Tango Salons in Buenos Aires
*If you want to check out some authentic tango salons in Buenos Aires, the easiest and most fun way to do so is on a private tango nightlife tour, where your personal guide will show you the local scene and explain everything that is going on to you, taking you to the best places on the night of your choice. For more information, click here.*
If you want to dance tango in Buenos Aires, where do you go?
A good question, but this depends on many things: your age, what style you dance, what day or night of the week you want to go out, if you go with or without a partner, and so on…
Dancing social tango in Buenos Aires has nothing to do with the Tango Show Dancing on the streets of San Telmo, La Boca, calle Florida, or Recoleta, or the many Tango Cena-Shows with an orchestra, stage dancers and dinner. The first thing to know about tango is that what you’ll see in those places is a different dance – Tango Entertainment for Export. And that is another post entirely!
Types of Tango Salons in Buenos Aires
First, a tip: when checking where to go to mingle with the locals in Buenos Aires on the dance floor, remember that dances in the same salon vary greatly depending on the organizer, day of the week, time of day etc. In other words, every milonga at Region Leonesa or Canning will not be the same.
The following is a general break-down of the different types of places to dance tango in Buenos Aires, with some examples of each…
SALON DE BAILE
A formal atmosphere especially for dancing, with predominantly elegant attire, tables with tablecloths, uniformed waiters, tango codes are strictly respected, professional DJs play tango, vals and milonga music of the 1930’s-50’s, often with tandas (blocks) of Latin and Jazz music. The public here is older (50-80) with an intermediate to high level of dancing in the close-embrace milonguero style. Women and men sit on opposite sides of the salon and use the cabaceo (traditional nodding of the head as an invitation to dance). The afternoon milongas tend to be more formal and traditional than the late night dances.
This old-fashioned type of salon has many of the same characteristics of the Salons de Baile, but also has a restaurant. The public is more varied, with lots of groups. The only example today is the Confiteria Ideal, which is famous for its long life and its architecture. Nowadays only a few Salons de Baile have restaurants, such as Nino Bien and El Beso, but they are milongas first, and only very few of the clients order food from the kitchen.
Dancing Tango in the Confiteria Ideal, Buenos Aires [Photo credit: Gerrysan]
CLUB DE BARRIO
The dance floors are cement basketball courts or the club restaurant. Meals are usually available. Predominantly attended by the neighborhood families and older married couples; the music includes tango, jazz and tropical.
Examples in Buenos Aires: Sin Rumbo, Los Bohemios, Sunderland, Club Chicago.
Informal atmosphere, young public (18-30), variety of casual dress, often with live music and dance exhibitions. More relaxed standards, a more diverse level of dancing, and more salon-style than close embrace. You will hear the music of Piazzolla, some rock ‘n’ roll, as well as salsa and cumbia.
Examples in Buenos Aires: La Estrella, La Viruta, Parakultural, La Catedral.
Outdoor milongas that attract a wide variety of dancers.
Examples in Buenos Aires: La Glorieta and Plaza Dorrego (year round) and La Calesita (in summer).
Informal, bare-bones ambiance, no professional DJ.
Examples in Buenos Aires: Cochabamba 444, El Motivo, Tangocool, Soho Tango.
Informal, relaxed atmosphere, anybody can dance with anybody, alternative music along with the classics.
Examples in Buenos Aires: La Marshall, TangoQueer.
[Article written by Cherie Magnus]