Welcome to Buenos Aires, the holy grail of tango. It should come as no surprise that you can easily find a handful of milongas for every night of the week – ones that transfer you into the parallel universe of this sultry and melancholy dance, music, and culture. Read on as the tango experts at Narrative Tango Tours discuss their handpicked top five non-touristy milongas – from traditional to contemporary – to experience the tango, BA style..
Located at Villa Crespo’s “Club Fulgor”, Milonga 10 is a milonga with a casual, younger crowd. Held in a small, intimate space, it’s been around for about 4 years and its laid-back vibe and informal dress code lend to a fun, party atmosphere. A somewhat nontraditional establishment, its quite lenient when adhering to the codigos of the milonga such as the cabaceo. The night begins around 11pm and goes until 4 or 5am with a tango exhibition around 2am. The best dancers don’t show up until about 1am or later, when the dance floor finally clears up (read: if you want to see the pros, go late!).
Loyola 828. Best on: Tuesdays and Saturdays
El Yeite, known as the “after” milonga, starts around 1:30am or later, when people start trickling in from other milongas. And we’re not joking when we say “after” – many people are known to linger on the dance floor until around 7am. The atmosphere is a bit more hip than Milonga 10, and it boasts a young crowd of high-level dancers. They mix things up by projecting old and new tango videos on the wall, so everyone is always occupied (even wallflowers). El Yeite, which has been open for about 2 years, is organized by a group of young dancers; what once began as a handful of friends congregating in a very small, run down room to practice their steps has now grown into one of the most popular young milongas in Buenos Aires.
Avenida Cordoba 4175. Best on: Mondays and Thursdays
A bit off the beaten path, La Baldosa is a neighborhood dance hall located in the less trodden neighborhood of Flores. Although La Baldosa is a traditional milonga that attracts an older crowd, many young people attend because of its large, beautiful dance floor, its great traditional tango music and its high level of dancing. Here your typical tourists are traded for older couples that, despite their seeming disabilities when walking, somehow glide gracefully around the dance floor. Another highlight is great performances by well-known tango couples and orchestras.
Ramón L. Falcón 2750. Best on: Friday
On Saturdays Club Sunderland is the place to go to see the famous Villa Urquiza tango style. Located in the northwest part of the city (in Villa Urquiza, as the dance style denotes), it is a neighborhood milonga that attracts mostly older locals, milongueros and groups of tourists seeking the true, Argentine tango. Held in a huge gym where basketball courts and bleachers are converted into a dance floor, it is a unique milonga with lots of personality. Unlike the majority of milongas, the lights shine bright, and it boasts one of BA’s best DJ’s who plays classic tangos. Worth the longer trip, it is a prestigious milonga that always has performances from the best tango salon dancers in town.
Lugones 3161. Best on: Saturday
Inhabiting a 70s style dance hall tucked away in Congreso, El Beso is one of the most traditional milongas in BA. For real, though: men and women are seated on separate sides of the dance floor. It is an older crowd of milongueros/as, who have been dancing for over 40 years and emit pure Argentine tango. The cabaceo is strictly enforced, as well as traditional dress and music. Here you will really see what it’s like to dance in a crowded milonga in Buenos Aires; you’ll understand why tango is known as “a feeling that is danced” and witness the beauty of the tango embrace firsthand.
Riobamba 416. Best on: Wednesday and Sunday
Don’t miss out! Learn more about the tango sub-culture in Buenos Aires by joining Narrative Tango Tours on an exciting accompanied milonga outing to one of these fascinating milongas, or test out your moves with a tango class. All services are exclusive (groups are limited to six max) and led by professional tango dancers who live and breathe the tango. Let NTT show you the way the tangueros live in Buenos Aires – learn to embody the tango not as a tourist but as a local. For more information or to book a service email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Codigos: the tango rules and etiquette that are followed in the milongas and within the tango community
Cabaceo: the way a man invites the woman to dance with a nod of the head
Tandas: a set of 3-4 tangos that are played by a specific orchestra
Milongueros: normal people who frequent the milonga nightly