Tango Salons in Buenos Aires

October 12, 2007 by · 5 Comments 

*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.

Examples in Buenos Aires: El Arranque, Gricel, Salon Canning, Viejo Correo, Los Consagrados, Maipu 444, Lo de Celia, El Beso, Chique.

CONFITERIA BAILABLE

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 at the Confiteria Ideal, Buenos Aires
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.

BAILE JOVEN

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.

AIRE LIBRE

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).

PRACTICAS

Informal, bare-bones ambiance, no professional DJ.

Examples in Buenos Aires: Cochabamba 444, El Motivo, Tangocool, Soho Tango.

GAY MILONGAS

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]

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

October 7, 2007 by · 8 Comments 

A quiet nature reserve just steps from the city

Viewpoint in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

The hustle and bustle of the City Center are lost in the cooling mood of the only ecological reserve in the city, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur. A stone’s throw away from the trendy, modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero and you find yourself walking along the park’s boardwalk littered with nuzzling couples, parillas (steakhouses), and more pigeons than you can throw a stick at.

The Costanera Sur’s walkway borders the front of the reserve and from there you can see the greater landscape that opens up into the park. The boardwalk itself is entertaining, with beautiful architecture and sculptures, casual eateries and dozens of pickup games of futbol. Your initial examination of the swampy marshland is only an introduction to the many more birds and interesting views that await you upon entering.

Patio area in the Costanera Sur nature reserve

Buenos Aires grows its own ecological reserve

The city of Buenos Aires has seen its fair share of change over the years, and the history of the reserve is part of this constant transformation. During the city’s modernization in the mid-20th century, remnants of demolished buildings and construction debris were discarded into the Rio de la Plata. Gradually the debris, mixed with sand from the river began to create the marshy foundation for what is now the reserve. Soon, the plants began to grow, and not long after the birds followed. The ecological park is the result of this interesting history, and a great location for observing that fascinating border where city and country convene.

So although you may see more than a few empty bottles and wrappers that have been thrown all over the small concrete divider at the start of the boardwalk, just remember that debris and waste is the reason you’re there in the first place! And don’t worry, once inside, the heart of the park is much cleaner and well kept.

Nature consuming the city at the Costanera Sur?
[Photo Credit: jmpznz, under this CC licence]

Rent a bike to help explore the nature reserve

The park has two entrances. The main entrance is located on the southern side of the boardwalk and is an excellent place to rent a bicycle for the afternoon. This isn’t a bad way to go if you want to maximize your time bouncing around from view to view.

The entire walk around the reserve will take you more than an hour and that’s without stopping to peer through the reeds and to try and identify birds. The reserve offers several viewpoint stops that allow you a moment to pull out your binoculars and scan over the marshes that navigate through the wetlands. If you forget to bring your own, a few monedas (coins) will allow you a peek through the public binoculars that are placed along decks that skirt out over the marshlands.

Spectacular views with interesting backdrops

The views in the reserve are spectacularly endless. From the parks entrance a quick look back gives you a different view of the boardwalk with the city stretching up behind it. Wandering through the dirt laid paths are benches that offer a brief rest while you take in the quiet escape you’ve earned from your walk.

Perhaps most breathtaking are the views on the eastern side of the park. The Rio de la Plata borders this edge of the reserve and boats can be seen sailing in the distance. The air here is cooler and cleaner than in the busy city and the grassy areas for sitting are a great place to settle down for a relaxing view…

Costanera Sur View in Buenos Aires

This side of the reserve not only boasts amazing views of the river, but one of the best of the city. As you’ve chosen an afternoon away from the crazy downtown streets, it’s more than rewarding to see the city settled in the distance among a foreground of reeds and cattails.

Hide away from busy Buenos Aires down by the river

If you’ve entered the park from the south your walk continues past more scenes of the city and river. The river offers a true boardwalk where with some innovation and a keen eye you can find the entrance from inside the reserve and walk out along the river. On a hot day, or if you’re looking for a truer sense of solitude, this is one of the best hiding places in the city.

A closer look at the passing barges and water below will bring you even further away from the demanding pace of downtown. The northern side of the park offers many other surprises for those with a sharp eye. If you’re riding your rented bicycle too fast you may miss the small veterinary clinic and adoption center at the northern entrance of the park. Designed to offer veterinary assistance to the many birds that inhabit the reserve, you can see hawks and larger birds of prey that may usually be flying too high overhead for such a close examination. The small building also houses some wayward dogs that are now up for adoption; probably a better bet if you’re a Buenos Aires inhabitant rather than a traveler.

The Rio de la Plata as viewed from the Costanera Sur

The end of a relaxing day at the Costanera Sur, Buenos Aires

From here, you’ve almost completed your circle. Your choices of return are to take the northern exit and walk back using the footpath, stopping for any number of snacks along the way (sure to be meat). Or, heading back from inside the park instead gives you a chance to prolong your afternoon oasis and take in more of the reserve.

When you do in fact decide to head on out of the nature reserve, Puerto Madero and the water diques (canals) are your transition home. You’ve probably found yourself hours later and the countless restaurants and bars located here are a perfect way to end your afternoon, or begin your evening. Whether you’re a Buenos Aires native or first time visitor, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur is an ideal way to escape from the city without the headache of organizing day trips or the burden of their cost. Whether you’re a country mouse stuck in the city, or simply looking for an afternoon off, put this attraction near the top of your list.

Location of Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Av. Tristán A Rodríguez 1550, near Padre M Migone, Puerto Madero

La Milonga de los Consagrados

October 1, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

Tango dancing in the south of Buenos Aires

La Milonga de la Consagrados, 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.*

La Milonga de los Consagrados is just one of the many places in Buenos Aires where you can spot locals dancing tango in a more traditional setting. Different from the professional Tango Shows in Buenos Aires, a milonga is full of regular Buenos Aires residents who come out to dance tango for their own entertainment!

Same venues, different milongas…

As mentioned in the excellent overview on Tango in Buenos Aires, even if a milonga is in the same salon as another, each event will still have its own character depending on the day of the week, the organizer, the crowd, and if it’s in the afternoon or at night.

Los Consagrados is in the same salon as the famous former Niño Bien of Thursday nights (in the wonderful Centro Region Leonesa, which is in the barrio of Constitución, just a few blocks away from the adjoining San Telmo), but it is a totally different experience. The fact that it’s held on Saturday afternoons, the traditional “difficult” day for singles, makes it even more of a plus.

Mass of tango dancers at the Los Consagrados milonga

A perfect tango salon

For one thing, the salon is perfect: large wooden dance floor, high high ceilings with a skylight, a bar, red velvet curtains at each end, a balcony for smokers. It is old and elegant at the same time, with the faded ambiance that foreigners especially love about Buenos Aires.

This is not a tourist milonga by any stretch of the imagination, despite the fact that several tourists do find their way there. The majority of the dancers are locals and regulars – sitting at the same tables week after week.

The atmosphere is friendly and open (although the strict codes of tango – or codigos – do apply). Men sit on one side, women on the other, couples and mixed groups at either end. It is necessary to cabecear (nod) to get a dance. There is very little of the snobbishness and elitism that permeates milongas such as El Beso and Maipu 444. There are also very few of the “bottom feeder” types, who come to prey on foreigners, such as can be found in La Ideal. The level of dancing is fairly high.

A Tango Champagne moment at the Milonga de los Consagrados, Buenos Aires

Tango with a twist

Unlike many milongas (Chique, for example), tandas (blocks) of other rhythms are always played during the afternoon. You can expect a tanda of tropical rhythms (merengue and cumbia), rock ‘n roll (Dixieland to Elvis) and folklore (La Chacarera). The DJ is capable, but tends to be a little unoriginal and repetitive.

Cherie and Ruben dance the Chacarera

Finally, for added excitement, each week there is a sorteo, an entrance ticket prize draw, for a bottle of champagne or a snack plate. Best of luck!

[Article written by Cherie Magnus]

Location of La Milonga de los Consagrados

Humberto Primo 1462, between San Jose & Saenz Pena, Constitución (a few blocks from the neighborhood of San Telmo)

Reservations: 15-5892-2056.
If you want to attend Los Consagrados on your own:

  • Opens Saturday afternoons 4.30pm-10.30pm
  • Reservations are necessary (see below for telephone number)
  • Organizer: Enrique “Gordo” Rosich

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