Where to dance tango in buenos aires

Where to Dance Tango in Buenos Aires

From the very beginning, Buenos Aires and the tango have been inseparable.

It was in the brothels of this burgeoning South American port city that, around the turn of the century, Italian immigrant laborers first invented the dance. By the 1920s and 30s, with these brothel beginnings largely relegated to the past, tango reached its golden age, a time of immense popularity for both the dance and the music alike. During those years tango could be heard, in both its sung and its orchestral versions, on the radio and in dance halls around the world.

Tango, of course, remains popular to this day. And Buenos Aires is still the best place in the world to dance the tango or see it performed on the stage.

Tango dance halls are called “milongas.” Even the uninitiated are welcome at a “milonga” – which is to say that anyone is free to take a class or to watch from the tables which encircle the dance floor. But those with little experience should be aware that in the late evening, when the “milonga” is in session, you are expected to be a highly proficient dancer before you should think about selecting a partner (Ladies, don’t even think about it! According to the tango code, only men may do the asking). Stepping on toes is not appreciated and anyone who does so will not be asked to dance again. “Tangueros”, as tango dancers are known, are not a forgiving lot.

“Milongas” don’t begin until 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening and normally will not end before 4:00 or 5:00 am., so make sure you have a siesta the day before.

A list of some of the nicest “classic” milongas in Buenos Aires includes:

Bien Pulenta

La Confiteria Ideal

Salon Canning

El Ni?o Bien

All of these are traditional dance halls, with marble or hardwood floors, chandelier lighting, gilded ceilings and black jacket waiters – places that are imbued with no small amount of class, and perhaps an even larger amount of snobbery. Many of these milongas will offer mini-shows with famous dancers, usually at 1:00 or 2:00 am, as a break in the middle of the dance session – check with the show’s organizers beforehand. Most of the same dance halls will also offer classes, normally in the early evening hours before the “milonga” begins.

Contact information for these and other “milongas” can be found on the official Government of Buenos Aires site: www.tangodata.gov.ar

For those who don’t yet have the skills to take on Buenos Aires’ best dancers, or who are looking for a more relaxed or more youthful atmosphere, the “practica” or practice session has recently been gaining in popularity on the traditional classic “milonga”. A variety of these less formal, even “underground”, dance halls have risen up to the task of providing young Argentines and foreign visitors with a place to dance where they won’t be beholden to the constant pressures of tango-world snobbery. Some of these “milongas”, like the more traditional dance halls, also have shows. Amongst these places, you’ll find:

Tango Cool! (in Club Villa Malcolm)

La Viruta (in The Centro Cultural Armenia)

Catedral

Finally, for tourists and for tourists only (most Argentines could scarcely afford the ticket price), a number of places in Buenos Aires offer dinner – show combinations. The food is mostly forgettable, and the shows are of the Andrew Lloyd Webber variety, with flimsily constructed plotlines, a random selection of music, unfunny jokes told by garrulous MCs, and plenty of spectacle and special effects – in one of the shows, a live horse is brought onto the stage every night! The dancers are, however, true professionals and, especially when more than one couple is dancing together on stage, the spectacle is truly amazing. For that alone it may be worth paying the entry fee. The price for these shows is, however, extremely steep, especially by local standards. Expect to pay around one hundred US dollars for dinner and a show – more if inflation continues its current course of eroding away the savings that tourists used to see from the devalued peso.

The best of the tango dinner/shows include:

La Esquina de Carlos Gardel

Se?or Tango

El Querandi

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