The gaucho pulperias in the pampa (popular name for a sort of bar or tavern) was the main place of reunion and entertainment for both rural gauchos and urban popular sectors until the close of the XIX century.
They were places where popular classes found possibilities to share the “freedom” to drink, to play, to negociate, to manifest their disagreement and express everything that was repressed by the stiff rules of social control during that period in Argentina.
Pulperias established within the confines of estancias, or accompanying troops on their way to the frontier in the pampa, acted as the fundamental venues for these bonds. They reinforced ties between “boss and peon” or among armed men.
The characteristics of the pampas inhabitants made this specific form of sociability unique even within traditional sociability. The instability of work, liiving arrangements, and forms of family life made it difficult to establish lasting bonds.
Social reason for the gaucho pulperias
The weakness of social ties made the situation of the rural population more akin to that of the individual in modern society than to that faced by a member of colonial society in Buenos Aires. The type of egualitarian relationships that flourished in the pulperias was yet another characteristic that distinguished these social encounters from those found in a traditionally hierarchical society.
Moreover, since the pulperia was the only meeting place for an isolated and heterogeneous population of gauchos working in Estancias, it was not only a center for spreading the news – a necessary condition for any modern political culture – but also a place to sing folkloric songs and recite poetry, the cultural forms in which gauchos’ sorrows and joys were expressed.
In other words, it was a forum for “gaucho discourse,” instituted on the basis of the traditional sense of liberty and equality.
Extracted from: Revolution and Restoration: The Rearrangement of Power in Argentina, 1776-1860 edited by Mark D. Szuchman, Jonathan Charles Brown: This and some other related thoughts in: The gaucho experience
Travellers at a Gaucho Pulperias:
The pulperias in Argentina are the rendezvous of the gauchos, who set no value upon money, and spend it only in gambling and drinking. Their custom is to invite all present gauchos to drink with them; they have a large pitcher full of canespirit (for they dislike wine), which they pass round.
This ceremony they repeat so long as they have a penny left, and they consider it as an affront if any one declines the invitation.
Every pulperia nearby an Estancia is provided with a guitar, and whoever plays on it is treated at the expense of the company. These musicians of the pampa never sing any other than a continuous tour of yarabys, or Peruvian songs, which are the most monotonous and dismal in the world. The tone is lamentable, and they always turn upon a tour of disappointed love, and lovers deploring their pains in deserts; but never treat of lively, agreeable, or even indifferent subjects.
After all, these gaucho pulperias in the pampa, miserable as they are, are not much inferior to some of the inns, as they are called, in Spain herself. It is very true, that in the larger post-towns improvements have been made of late years in the accommodations for travelers; but in other situations, where they are obliged to remain during perhaps the whole night after a long day trip, the buildings are literally nothing better than huts, or low public-houses frequented by the poorest peasantry: they sometimes do not consist of two stories, or even of two rooms, but a separation is made by a curtain, the harbour of all kinds of filth and vermin.
At the pulperia near Buenos Aires they are frequently provided with a guitar, but the performaces upon it are the most wretched that can be imagined.
Picturesque Illustrations of Buenos Ayres and Monte Video: By Emeric Essex Vidal
How you can visit a real pulperia:
For experiencing some sort of old gaucho pulperia bar try this: Day trip to the gaucho Town and Estancia