What is the best Tango Show in Buenos Aires?

August 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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]

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

Chiqué Tango Milonga

August 21, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Tango dancing in an authentic Spanish club

Tango Dancing at the Chique Milonga in Congreso, 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.*

There are countless ways to experience the art of tango in Buenos Aires, the city where it was born. If you’ve already seen a flashy show and some impromptu street performances but are STILL not satisfied, attending a a tango milonga (a venue for dancing tango) where the dance is found in its natural habitat may be the answer.

Chiqué Tango Milonga is one such venue. Chiqué is held every Thursday afternoon on the first floor of Casa Galicia, a Spanish club in Congreso (near the city center). A Spanish restaurant is on the second floor. The hall consists of a very old wooden dance floor in excellent condition, which is surrounded by tables with tablecloths, women sitting on one side, men on the other, and couples at the end in the traditional manner.

There is a small stage at one end where the DJ does his thing. The other end of the salon has big windows with a balcony. There is no physical bar, but waitresses take all orders to the kitchen where they are filled by bartender just the same. There is a coat check, and a bathroom attendant. The organizers are always there to welcome their guests. Patrons are expected to order drinks, from bottled water to champagne. Snacks are also available.

The Dance Hall in Casa Galicia

A friendly, welcoming milonga

This milonga has a family feel – very comfortable and friendly. There are good dancers but people don’t go there to strut their stuff; they go to mix and mingle and have fun dancing. The Cabeceo (the inviting to dance with nods of the head) is strictly observed, but still the milonga feels informal and relaxed. There is no pressure or elitism.

A few foreigners attend, but the milonga is not dripping with them and those who prey on them. The dancers are well-groomed and well-dressed and generally between the ages of 50-80, but with younger exceptions. If a lady isn’t dancing much, the organizer himself may invite her.

Dancing up a tango storm at Chique

Strictly Tango

Unlike some other milongas, there are no tandas (blocks) of other types of music. It’s strictly tango (tango, vals and milonga) in Chiqué.

Chiqué used to be held at Club Español where it drew many more attendees due to the elaborate architecture. Many visitors would pay to go into the milonga just to gape at it’s beautiful gilt salon. This isn’t so in Casa Galicia, which is still very nice, but nothing extraordinary in terms of architecture. There is an image of Santiago el Major in a glass case on the wall, and several huge oil paintings of the homeland (which could use a wash). There are chandeliers and gewgaws on the ceiling, and air conditioning is rumored to be on its way.

Help support Chiqué

Unfortunately, with the move from Club Español, some people have gone elsewhere. And if more people don’t begin to frequent this new location, perhaps Chiqué will be in trouble.

However, as of now, Chiqué is a great place to spend a charming Thursday afternoon sampling the Buenos Aires milonga scene, before running off to dinner or to dance at a late-night milonga.

[Article written by Cherie Magnus]

Location of Chiqué Tango Milonga

Casa Galicia: San Jose 224, corner of Alsina, City Center

If you want to try Chiqué on your own:
Open Thursday afternoons 4pm-10pm
Organizer: Julio Auliel / DJ: Dany Borelli
Reservations: 4201-7199 or 15-6140-7830

Cochabamba 444 Tango Milonga

June 22, 2007 by · 7 Comments 

An authentic milonga in San Telmo

Red Hot (Leggings) on the Tango Milonga Dance Floor

*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.*

For an authentic tango experience in Buenos Aires, there are many options beyond the professional Argentine Tango Shows. For a different side of Tango, head to Cochabamba 444, the San Telmo milonga where the city’s best tango dancers come to strut across the dance floor with people of all ages, walks of life, and nationalities. The bar is dimly lit by chandeliers with yellow bulbs, giving an aura of antiquity that takes you back to Buenos Aires in its Golden Age of high-society and sizzling tango bars. It’s located on a quiet street just three blocks from Plaza Dorrego, where the Sunday antiques fair is held.

Tango dancers at the Cochabamba 444 milonga in San Telmo

Buenos Aires tango lessons

If you’d like to try out your dancing shoes, tango lessons are offered Thursday and Friday nights at 8pm at Cochabamba 444 (arrive a little late and there’ll be no problem – this is Argentina, after all). The teacher gives the class in Spanish, but if your Spanish isn’t great have no fear, because there is bound to be some English-speaking expat or even an Argentine who will happily translate for you as you whirl around the floor (or trip over your own feet, as the case may be). There may be better places in Buenos Aires for instruction on dancing tango than Cochabamba 444, but this milonga is really known for is its atmosphere and music.

Dance the night away, or just watch and enjoy

If you just want to come to watch the dancers and enjoy the music, you can show up around 10pm or 10:30pm and grab a table near the modest bar in the back. The bar serves bottles of cheap wine and things to munch on like empanadas, and picadas (plates of meats, cheese, olives etc), all at very low prices, even by Buenos Aires standards. Overall, the bar is populated by Argentines who are serious about tango, but there are certainly some foreigners on the scene too.

Once the music starts, even the most unassuming of patrons will whisk out on the dance floor and dazzle you with their grace, covert sensuality, and intensity. There’s a method to the madness, though: the culture of tango is outlined in strict rules that you can only learn from being a part of it. For example, the men always ask the women for a dance, and sometimes it’s done subtly with just a raised eyebrow. And once a couple is dancing tango, they will continue as partners for an entire song set.

A traditional Tango band belts out some classic tunes

Cochabamba 444: a performance worth coming for

Toward the end of the night, Cochabamba 444 will typically offer some sort of performance. It’s usually a traditional live tango band, who will bang out classic tunes with style on a stand-up bass, bandoneon (the type of accordion used in tango), and piano. Sometimes, however, you might get lucky and see a hilarious puppet show or a singer belting out some soul tunes.

Make note that Thursday night is arguably the best night to go, although you will probably also see some spectacular dancing and live music on Fridays too.

Make note, dress is casual but it’s best not to wear jeans and sneakers, as tango culture is somewhat more refined and traditional. You may not easily meet other travelers or Argentines at Cochabamba, but you will certainly observe a beautiful dance, authentic tango culture, and stirring musical performances.

[Article written by Rachel Singer]

Location of Cochabamba 444

Cochabamba 444, between Defensa & Bolivar, San Telmo

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