Soy porteña. Well, not exactly – I am from Oklahoma. But what I am is a milonguera and my Argentina is late nights that spill into early mornings, the beauty of the tango embrace and lots and lots of Malbec. Buenos Aires is full of tango. Most tourists visiting the city only ever have access to smallest section, the part the city creates for them. The dancers in La Boca, the tango shows hawked by tour guides and hotel concierges. But Buenos Aires IS tango… there is so much more. And it’s way more complicated than it looks on stage.
If you are a keen dancer or a curious spectator, where do you go? It’s about time The Real Argentina put together a guide for all tastes. Below is a pick of top milongas. For the uninitiated, these are the tango dance clubs, where novices and experts go to practice, rather than the made-for-tourists dinner shows. Most milongas offer lessons, too, and for different abilities, so come early for the class, then stay to dance – and people-watch – until the early hours.
Buenos Aires and its porteño residents have never been a particularly disciplined lot, so the idea of sending visitors on a traditional sightseeing tour complete with an officious flag-bearing guide is wrong on all accounts. However, BA, as creative as it is, offers a whole host of alternative ways to see the city via its street art, boutiques, sacred grape and a photography workshop.
Walk down Buenos Aires’s central shopping street, Avenida Florida, and you’d be forgiven for presuming that Argentine music tastes encompass just one genre: tango. So where should you be heading to catch the city’s hottest bands? Here’s a rundown offering something for all tastes.
Just after midnight, one drizzly Friday morning in the poor Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Abasto, I wandered through a rusty door. Inside the cavernous Club Atlético Fernandez Fierro, The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ echoed, anti-globalist art was lit up under a roving mirror ball and students knocked back the cheap Italian liqueur fernet mixed with cola. It was clear this wasn’t the average stuffy tango hall