"Tango is a a four legged animal with two beating hearts."
Scroll down to find out
For newcomers to Buenos Aires, negotiating the city’s tango scene is an exciting, yet potentially daunting, prospect. The music seems to dominate every facet of metropolitan culture, as Argentina’s most famous form of creative expression is seen everywhere. For many people, tango is an essential part of visiting the capital, not just in the shows, street performances and milongas, but in a cultural identity that revolves around those unmistakable melodies, graceful moves and steamy embraces. While observing from afar is one thing, becoming immersed in the scene is another matter altogether. And, as personal experience as a clueless novice has taught me, looking for a way in inevitably raises probing questions like ‘What the hell do I do?” and ‘”Where the hell do I begin?
4 general categories of Tango
The city offers a massive range of tango options, for locals and tourists, for absolute beginners and supreme experts.
*The most common, and authentic, is the milongas, the multitude of neighborhood joints dedicated to those who want to dance and impress with their impeccable finesse. The milonga is the way the porteños, the locals, do it. There are hundreds of these places all over town.
*But if its glitz and glamour that you’re looking for, then nothing beats the highly choreographed and stunningly performed tango shows that take place in some of Buenos Aires’ grandest theaters. Starting at close to U$D100 per person, they’re not exactly cheap, but when you consider the multi-course dinners and constant stream of drinks that are included in the price, you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth while dancers pirouette and twirl across a stage.
*There is also street tango. The most typical spots are well-known places like Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo or along El Caminito in La Boca. Tango is a key ingredient of the city’s open-air cultural life.
*But if you haven’t ever danced tango before, it’s quite possible that you’ll want to at least learn some basics before unleashing yourself on an unsuspecting public. Fortunately, there are plentiful private classes, which can be taken either individually or as part of a group. An individual class, while more expensive, makes you the sole focus and will be tailored to your particular needs. If you’re just looking to have some fun with friends, a group class is the way to go.
4 good Buenos Aires tango shows
Located in the area where tango was born, this super traditional dinner show shows you how tango evolved through the years with excellent performances of the dancers as well as the musicians.
*El Viejo Almacén
The iconic San Telmo venue is one of the best-known venues in the city. In a protected 18th century building, this is an informal but highly enjoyable show that recalls tango’s working class origins.
*Roho Tango Show
The most exclusive show in town, located in Puerto Madero’s dazzling five-star Faena Hotel. The ballroom is draped in passionate red, while the dancers utilize the whole space, weaving in and out of the audience. It’s not cheap, but it takes the concept of ‘indulgence’ to the next level. There are plenty of tango shows in Buenos Aires, yet this one is unique.
*Café de los Angelitos
Another venue steeped in tango folklore, the Café, once a raffish music hall, is situated in a very elegant ballroom. Price-queality wise, one of the best tango shows.
3 recommended Buenos Aires milongas
We’ve put together a selection of milongas which reflect the many atmospheres and styles to be found. Bear in mind that some of these places don’t really get going until after midnight.
*La Catedral, Sarmiento 4006, Almagro
This is one of the best-known milongas and an excellent choice for beginners. La Catedral offers nightly dancing in an informal setting. The vegetarian restaurant and colorful artworks emphasize the bohemian vibe.
*La Viruta, Armenia 1366, Palermo
Relaxed but lively venue that peaks later than most, around 3 or 4am when the best dancers announce their presence. There are live shows, while you can take salsa classes as well as tango. It doesn’t close until 6am but don’t worry: breakfast is served in the early hours.
*El Beso, Riobamba 416, Balvanera
There are several different milonga nights at this traditional city venue, such as Lujos (Thursdays), Noche de Luna (Wednesdays), Milonga de las Morochas (Saturdays) and, last but not least, Cachirulo (Tuesdays), which, according to some, is the best milonga in Buenos Aires.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Tango
*DO take some time to select a milonga that meets your requirements. Ask around. Do a bit of research. If you’re an experienced dancer looking to encounter others like you, you probably won’t get too much from going to a beginners’ tango class. Likewise, if you’re the kind of person who tends to collide with those around them every 30 seconds, you might not want to mix it up with the tango elite.
*DON’T sit in the first empty seat that you see. Many milongas have been attracting the same clientele for decades, with tradition stating that they always occupy the same spot.
*DO play it cool if you’re not interested in dancing, and bear in mind that politely returning a smile may be misconstrued as being available.
*DO be respectful. It might just be a night out for you but for many people, the milonga is at the center of their social network. And remember that real milongas are not geared towards tourists. It’s not their responsibility to speak any language other than Spanish. Smile and the world will smile back at you.
There are several websites dedicated to the milongas of Buenos Aires, each of them worth checking out in order to get a clear idea of what’s out there. Some of the best sites include:
There’s also the Facebook group Mi Buenos Aires https://www.facebook.com/pages/MI-BUENOS-AIRES-milonga/380495941275