Dustin Luke Tells Us: Why Argentina?
Interview by Vivi Rathbone.
August, 2008, Buenos Aires – Sitting in the office of the owner of a large Buenos Aires night club, loudly negotiating in perfect Spanish exact terms with the club owner, an intimidating man with a raspy voice, who is best described as mafioso, twenty-four Dustin Luke had a surreal experience.
It was that kind of impalpable movie-moment when first-person time stands still, but everything else keeps moving around him – the passionate negotiations that to an outsider might appear to be a heated argument. Dustin heard only silence, and was struck by the profundity of his realization that “this is my life right now”. Running a successful business in a wild foreign city, just a year out of college, negotiating big deals in his second language. The realization that he had met his goals to perfect a second language and run a business by the age of 24 was incredibly satisfying.
The story of a young expat converting from tourist, to international entrepreneur has been told several times on this blog, but what is so captivating about Dustin’s story is that he has only just begun. After going majorly viral, becoming an international Youtube star, and recognized local celebrity, we wait with baited anticipation to see what Dustin will do next.
Dustin Luke – you may recognize him for the iconic smile – started studying Spanish in elementary school, in Norcross, GA. Coming from a community with a significant hispanic influence, Dustin continued his Spanish language education through high school. This interest in language lead him to study abroad during the summer of 2004, where he had his first destined encounter with a group of Argentines in a hostel in Madrid, who encouraged him to go to Buenos Aires. In the legendary year of 2006 – the year expats still talk about – when you could get unlimited steak and wine for under $10 – Dustin made it to Buenos Aires for the craziest 72 hours of his life.
“This is South America?” He recalls asking himself amidst a whirlwind of beautiful people, hot empanadas, the pretty cadence of Porteno Spanish, and legendary all night parties. As many of us have – Dustin fell in love with Buenos Aires. In February of 2006 he made a promise to himself to return.
Over his senior year at college, Dustin started to plan his return to Buenos Aires. Along with a couple of friends from college, he developed the idea for The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl. While pub crawls are quite common in most tourist destinations, there was not yet one in Buenos Aires. Dustin returned to Buenos Aires immediately after graduating in August of 2007, and launched the BA Pub Crawl in November. Within a year it had expanded to Chile. Dustin’s entrepreneurial ambitions were being realized. In 2008, at the age of 24 he was an international entrepreneur, negotiating deals behind closed doors with some of the largest clubs in the city, in his second language.
Where does one go from there?
Dustin was always a Youtube fan, and started reaching out to Youtube publishers to assist in marketing efforts for the BA Pub Crawl. The idea that any average person with a camera could potentially reach thousands was fascinating to him. This lead to his next business idea – to work as a social media consultant. Driven by a desire to be location independent, Dustin sold his business in Buenos Aires, and moved back to the States, and started to find new clients. He also started creating videos in English and Spanish for his own Youtube channel. The videos tracked Dustin’s travels across Thailand and Tanzania, but eventually he started to find a niche making videos telling stories about his time in Argentina. His first video that kicked him off was about the difficulty he encountered when introducing himself in Spanish to Argentines.
He caught major viral action with the video “Cosas Que Dicen Los Argentinos”, which now has a million and a half views. The video was well received for it’s totally accurate imitation of things Argentines say, and also for complete lack of detectable accent. It was a timely spin off of the wildly popular “Sh*t Girls Say” video, and it was hilarious:
The video went instantly viral, getting over 10,000 hits in 10 hours, and by morning had caught the attention of local mainstream media. Overnight, Dustin had become a household name in Buenos Aires. Over the next few weeks, his Youtube subscribers skyrocketed from 500 to 10,000.
Returning to Buenos Aires in October of 2013, Dustin started working on his newest series – “Que Dicen Los Yankees”, a six episode series featuring Spanish speaking Americans reacting to viral videos in Spanish that are largely unknown to the English-speaking world.
Dustin has seen many of his dreams come into fruition – from being fluent in Spanish, to an international entrepreneur at 24, location independent after that, followed by his whirlwind success as a Social Media Celebrity. Dustin plans to continue to publish videos sharing his perspective of an American that loves Argentina. Dustin addresses the common question “Why Argentina?” in this video:
Dustin strives to change this negative perception of the country, and really show locals and the world how incredible it is! His expansive following gives him the unique position to connect both of these cultures and combat the negative stereotypes that each hold for the other. Isn’t that beautiful?