Two to watch the Tango
February 13, 2012 4:36 PM   Subscribe

What is the best Tango Show in Buenos Aires? Or are they all fabulous?

Mr Tabubil and I will be spending Easter Weekend in Buenos Aires. We want to be tourists and spend one of our evenings at a Tango Dancing Dinner show, but we have absolutely no idea where to start planning. Does anyone have any experiences or reviews or a need to tell us that THIS PARTICULAR SHOW is amazing and should not be missed?
posted by tabubilgirl to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: They are definitely not all fabulous. That much I can tell you. There's plenty of horrible tourist trap tango shows where two Theater Kid types will drag each other around between some dinner tables while a scratchy boombox threatens to send the laptop that's perched on top of it clattering to the floor.

I don't really know the best tango show to suggest you go to, but I do suggest you at least once go to a milonga at La Catedral. Check the schedule before you show up because while they have many milonga nights each week, some nights are reserved for "folklore" or other types of music, but the biggest night is usually Tuesday.

So, La Catedral has a more-or-less unmarked entrance off Sarmiento, and inside, there's a guy at a card table with a cash box, who'll charge you a few pesos to come in. It resembles nothing so much as a VFW hall punk rock show at this point. Then, you make your way up these rickety stairs into the cavernous main room. It has big timber beams holding it up, and there's a giant red heart hanging from the ceiling. The walls are covered with dusty art projects that seem to want to Challenge Your Notions of what Painting Is (meaning a lot of old computer chips are glued to a canvases). No worries, you didn't come here for the art.

There's a bandstand at one end, a huge bar area with cafe tables at the other, and a dance floor in the middle. Around the border are the types of couches parents let their teenage children drag down to the basement in sitcoms.

And then actual normal people dance tango! It's pretty crazy. Not everyone is very good. Some few people are, but most are beginners. Tango is rather difficult. But it's awesome to see, that people actually do it, in this crazy old building, even if you are just an observer. You can also get some vegetarian food in the cafeteria off the main hall, and they serve pretty cheap bottles of wine and beer. It gets extremely hot up there, but by Easter it will probably be not too bad.
posted by jeb at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What Jeb is talking about and what you are talking about are 2 different things. La Catedral is a milonga which is where people go to dance tango. As far as "authentic" goes it's pretty much it and there a few good ones around. You go, you can have a lesson and you watch. A Tango Show on the other hand is a purely touristy thing but can be a great night out. It's a show, so there won't be a single local in the audience, but generally it's a good show. Places like El Viejo Almacen or Complejo Tango are good, professional entreprises. But you will not be seeing "the real Buenos Aires" whatever that may be. Plus they can be eye-wateringly expensive, upwards of USD200 per person for meal and show. A milonga is generally a more rewarding experience as you feel as though you are being let into a secret. I'm a tour guide here, if you any more questions, feel free to memail me.
posted by jontyjago at 8:09 PM on February 13, 2012

Yes, listen to jeb above and don't waste your time on one of the corporate 'tango shows'--they serve expensive (awful) dinners and the staff do nothing but mug for tips and upsell you on extras the entire time. Some of the dancers are great, but they're not better than some of the incredible locals you'll see at La Catedral.
posted by yellowcandy at 8:28 PM on February 13, 2012

I too would recommend that you go to a milonga rather than a tourist tango show. My favorite is La Confiteria Ideal. This page does a great job of summing up the vibe of a variety of milongas.
posted by amaire at 10:09 PM on February 13, 2012

« Older How do I become better at spewing BS in art...   |   Desk or near-desk exercise options Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.