Milongas in Buenos Aires

Active, Music, Nightlife
November 30, 2011 9:04 am

For my latest piece on Buenos Aires for BBC Travel, I spent time a bit of time exploring the city’s underground tango milonga scene. A milonga (also often called a práctica) is any place where people gather to dance tango. As I detail in the article, the and the city’s collective milonga scene comprises this nocturnal world where the tango lives, thrives and evolves.

BBC Travel article: The tango Buenos Aires tourists never see

Below I’ve included some photos I took when attending different milongas, and descriptions of some of the most popular and renowned milongas and prácticas in the city as a kind of supplement to my article. I left each milonga feeling even more enchanted with Buenos Aires than I had been before, and I cannot recommend attending a milonga enough. The scene is entirely unique to the city and of obvious cultural importance. Experiencing it brings another whole level of understanding of Buenos Aires.

To get you in the mood, here is tango great Carlos Gardel singing “Mi Buenos Aires Querido,” or “My Dear Buenos Aires.”

Milonga Parakultural at Salón Canning

One of the most historic venues, and the traditional milonga is always full of experienced dancers.

Milonga Parakultural Salon Canning

El Motivo Práctica at Villa Malcolm

A large venue and contemporary milonga.

El Motivo Practica at Villa Malcolm

Practica8 or Milonga10 at Club Fulgor

An intimate, contemporary milonga that attracts a younger crowd.

 

 

 

Practica8 at Club Fulgor Buenos Aires

 

El Beso

A beautiful venue, and the milonga attracts an older crowd.

El Beso Milonga Buenos Aires

Porteño y Bailarín

The milonga feels like a theater backstage, and everyone is dressed in their best.

Porteno y Bailarin Milonga Buenos Aires

El Beso Milonga Buenos Aires

La Glorieta Milonga

An unexpected outdoor venue in a spacious Belgrano park gazebo on Sundays, ideal for a mild night.

La Glorieta Milonga Buenos Aires

La Glorieta Milonga Buenos Aires

La Glorieta Milonga Buenos Aires

As I’ve metioned in a prior post about where to dance salsa and tango in Buenos Aires, La Viruta and El Catedral are popular milonga destinations too. Within tourist and foreigners circles these venues are more well known. La Viruta milongas attract some high-level dancers, while Catedral is more of a place to hang out.

The most effective way to start exploring the milonga scene is to do so with someone who is a frequenter and therefore familiar with the social codes (there’s a whole set, like don’t bump into anyone on the dance floor) and onda or vibes of each milonga. If you’re visiting the city, Narrative Tango Tours can get you in there with the insider knowledge. I tried out their milonga tour service and was highly impressed.

Karina

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2 Comments

  • Nice photos!

    Because I have lived and breathed the tango in Buenos Aires since 1997, I get a little annoyed when popular articles of the foreign press highlight only the alternative milongas of the young, the tourist circuit, and tango nuevo.

    It’s only good journalism to point out that the majority of the tango salons here are traditional, observe the codigos, and dance in the close embrace of the milonguero style to traditional tango music recorded in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. They are not “practicas,” but formal dances.

    A thorough piece on tango in BsAs would include such salons as Gricel, Nuevo Chique, Region Leonesa, El Arranque, Lo de Celia, La Nacional, La Milonguita, and many, many more, where people of all ages but especially older milongueros go to dance, not to see and be seen. Thank goodness you included El Beso.

  • Hello, Cherie! Thank you for your comment and for sharing your wealth of knowledge about tango in Buenos Aires. Many of the milongas are formal as you mentioned, though for the article I ended up selecting a smattering to also show how varied it is, to give a full(er) picture. The impression many people have is that tango only exists as a performance, specifically as a dinner-show, and even those who probe the scene a bit end up at more touristy locales, like Confiteria Ideal or Catedral, rather than the venues where the “real” tango is happening. I hope others who are looking for tango in Buenos Aires and stumble upon this post take the time to explore the traditional milongas you also mentioned.

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