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Let yourself be carried away by the rhythm of the bandoneon, by the dance floor embrace, by the nostalgic poetry… and learn the most intimate secrets of the city.

Tango can be found at suburban little cobblestone streets; facades of hundreds of immigrants’ houses; bars, book stores and music shops in downtown; tango houses, where tango and milonga are danced embracing tightly your partner. Buenos Aires lives in 2x4 rhythm. Tango is a musical expression and sensual dance but, also, a lot more! It is a particular language –the lunfardo (a local jargon linked to immigration and the suburbs), a way of dressing and walking, briefly: a way of life. Declared Mankind Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2009, tango is the Río de la Plata’s registered trademark.

Of marginal and brothel origins, during the first half of the 20th century, tango became the new urban music par excellence. The footprints of that golden age are still vivid in the omnipresent images of Carlos Gardel, the “ Creole Song Thrush” that, as porteños use to say, “each day sings better”, Many streets in Buenos Aires pay tribute to tango musicians and poets: Enrique Santos Discépolo, Cátulo Castillo, Aníbal Troilo, Roberto Goyeneche, among others. Visiting the typical tango neighborhoods is a good way to learn about the mythic of this music. Although it is quite frequent to find sidewalk musicians that play the bandoneon or dancing couples that pass the hat around the spectators after the performance (very common at the pedestrian Florida street or the fancy squares in Recoleta). There are emblematic neighborhoods due to their tango backgrounds: Boedo in the south and Abasto, in the center. Two classic and very picturesque postcards of the “tango city” are Caminito, at La Boca and Dorrego Square in San Telmo.

At the Buenos Aires of the 20th century, tango is not just a memory. The 2x4 culture has nowadays a renovated tango scene, enriched by new generations of musicians that fusion this urban music with other musical expressions or, simply, adapt the musical sensibility to the emotions of these days. When the evening falls on the city, tango awakes with all its sensuality and charm at tanguerías (tango houses), tango shows or high level theater shows. The circuit is broad and diversified and it is mostly concentrated in the southern neighborhoods where first class orchestras, singers and dancers offer both classical and vanguardist proposals, together with an exquisite authentically Argentine dinner (tango, asado, empanadas and wine constitute a perfect pairing of pleasures) Dancers rehearse very difficult movements, with posses, rounds and jumps full of sensuality. The garments are particularly luxurious. Singers and orchestras make their contribution adding glamour to every tango evening in Buenos Aires.

“Milongas” are less popular but not less attractive (at Almagro, Abasto and Palermo neighborhoods) where the purpose is “dancing until the lights are off”. Far from the show concept, at these popular “milongas” everyone plays a leading role. Here, tango is not contemplated; it is danced. The dance floor gathers experts, amateurs, beginners and adventurers… no matter their age. Some milongas start with dance classes where the basic movements are taught. But to take these classes it is necessary to arrive early. Then, it is a question of letting oneself go: improvisation is one of tango’s most fascinating characteristics.

 

Tango can be enjoyed all over the year in Buenos Aires, but August is particularly important for this music lovers provided they have an obliged date: Tango’s International Festival and Dance World Cup. Multitudinary concerts, outdoors milongas, tango design exhibitions, presentation and visits of recognized dancers and musicians convert tango into an actual party for the porteños.  

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