Already been to a tango show and liked what you saw? Then put on your dancing shoes and get in on the action at one of Buenos Aires’ many milongas (tango dance clubs), where the true spirit of tango comes alive. Ranging from informal, beginner friendly affairs to sophisticated upmarket venues where experts dominate the floor, there is a milonga in Buenos Aires for everyone, so read on to find the best one for you.
One of Buenos Aires’ best known milongas,La Catedral is famous for its relaxed and informal vibe. Classes are held everyday at 6 pm which are especially popular with beginners. It’s the perfect place for tourists as the casual dress code means no fancy clothes are required, while most participants are of a low to intermediate skill level. La Catedral is busiest on Wednesday and Saturday, although there is something going on every night of the week. An attached vegetarian restaurant provides the perfect place to relax between dancing.
The city’s number one late night milonga, La Virtua doesn’t really get going until about 3 am. It’s unpretentious though lively, especially on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday when it draws the biggest crowds. La Virtua is Buenos Aires’ premier tango after-party, the place people go to keep dancing when other milongas have closed. The best dancers don’t rock up until 4 am when they put on some spectacular live performances to show the crowd how it’s really done. Be sure to try their kitchen’s specialty, the media luna (croissant), said to be the best in the city.
An old classic on the Buenos Aires tango scene, Maldita is a great option for newbies and better dancers alike. The milonga’s standout attraction is definitely its live orchestra, El Atronfe, which plays once or twice a week (check Facebook to see when they are on and make a reservation). The orchestra is comprised of Maldita’s managers who founded the space some ten years ago, eventually becoming legendary in the local scene. Be sure to arrive by 11 pm when the orchestra starts, or by 9 pm to join classes that cater to all levels.
Cosy and intimate, El Beso puts on a different themed event almost every night. The most popular of which is the infamous Cachirulo on Tuesdays from 9 pm to 3 am, said by those in the know to be the best tango event in the city. But take note, this is an experts only affair so beginners will feel very out of place on the dance floor. Of course, feel free to turn up and watch the pros working their magic. LGBT dancers should check out their Friday event, La Marshál Milonga Gay, for some gay friendly tango action.
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Best on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays when the renowned tango production company Parakultural puts on an epic event including orchestras, singers and live performances. This longstanding milonga has been entertaining crowds for over 15 years, attracting a mixed bag of locals, tourists, beginners and experts of all ages. After the live performances finish in the early hours of the morning, some of the city’s best dancers take advantage of the excellent quality dance floor to strut their stuff in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
Not a night owl? Then check out Confiteria Ideal’s Matineé Milonga, an afternoon tango session that begins at the far more reasonable hour of 3 pm. Downstairs is an elegant cake shop, which although a little aged, is a local institution that has sold an exquisite selection of pastries to Buenos Aires’ elite since 1912. The upstairs dance hall features a massive domed roof and is lit by a series of graceful lanterns that exude old world charm. This historically important landmark also puts on a Saturday evening event from 10 pm for those who prefer late nights.