Whether you’ve already caught a tango show or not, since you’re in its hometown Buenos Aires, you might be feeling inspired to pick up a bit of the fancy footwork yourself. Whether you’re mal coordinated with two left feet, or you’re a natural on the dance floor, Buenos Aires has plenty of places where you can easily give the dance a go.
While stepping into a milonga (tango ballroom) could feel intimidating, tango culture in Buenos Aires is actually incredibly friendly and open – beginners needn’t worry.
If you’re looking for a dance partner there’s no shortage of willing accomplices (particularly for women) and one on one classes are readily available at affordable prices.
For those who haven’t yet adjusted to the Argentine clock (it’s nocturnal) be prepared to hang on a little – classes are late in the evening and if you’re looking to see the pros, the action doesn’t tend to get going in milongas until well after midnight.
A bohemian take on the traditional milonga, La Catedral is based in a disused dairy factory. The outside is fairly non-descript – you could easily walk by none the wiser of what’s going on inside. Its walls are adorned with locally created art and draped with red fairy lights. Full of tango dancers of all levels, it attracts a particularly international crowd – perfect for those making their first foray into the dance. If you’re looking to learn the basics head to one of their group classes, on from around 8 PM, (be prepared to wait a little as the place isn’t really known for punctuality). Later on performances and live music kick off from around midnight, leading on into the early hours. The kitchen is also known to be excellent with a vegetarian menu – not so common in this carnivorous capital.
For those who hate the idea of following a stiff gender code, head to San Telmo’s Buenos Ayres Club on a Tuesday night for a LGBTQ milonga night. Turning tango on its head, and shaking up gender roles in this typically male-led dance, the night brings in dancers of all levels who aren’t afraid to challenge tradition and want to leave dated gender roles at the door. A great way to take an alternative look at the changing local scene.
Bar Los Laureles
One of the city’s historical bares notables, entering Bar Los Laureles is like taking a trip back in time to the 19th century. Located in Buenos Aires’ southerly Barracas neighbourhood, it’s a little out the way for most of the city, but worth the trip to see a true remaining part of Argentine heritage. Throughout the week it’s a neighbourhood watering hole but come the weekend, it transforms itself into a lively milonga.
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If you’re not keen on rubbing shoulders with pro dancers and just want to give learning the basics a go, La Viruta, based in the Armenian Cultural Centre is a good place to start. You’ll find a whole mixture of tourists and locals who come here to learn – throw your fears to the side and prepare to dance. Lessons tend to take place a little earlier here, from around 6:30 PM, later on, be prepared to sit back and let those in the know take over the floor.
An iconic Palermo haunt, Salón Canning is well known on the professional tango circuit. Dance lessons are available earlier on in the evening but by midnight the place will be packed out with the city’s finest tango dancers swirling across the venue’s polished wooden floors. If your moves don’t quite cut it, there’s always space for spectators who are welcome to sip at a drink and soak up the atmosphere.
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