All About Argentine Tango…

Let’s travel to Argentina & learn all about Argentine tango!  There’s a secret language to this dance that only some people know ~ & you need to watch true tango-lovers to figure it out.  Buenos Aires is the perfect place to learn, as it’s the “World Capital of Tango.”  During my three-week stay: I took a guided “Tango Tour” of the city, took lessons with pros, & watched professional shows at world-famous Cafe Tortoni.  But my personal favorite: we visited milongas all over the city, where “regular” people who love tango go to dance. 

In the process, I learned ALL about Argentine tango ~ or at least, A LOT!  I’m writing this post to help you make the most of your Buenos Aires experience.

All About Argentine Tango...Info for the Traveler, Girl Who Travels the World

Learn all about Argentine tango, as we travel to the best Buenos Aires tango spots: like this one ~ on Caminito Street in La Boca.


What You Need to Dance Tango

The most important thing when dancing tango: the shoes.  Women need high heels with a strap ~ to keep them well-anchored, able to twist & glide.  Even women I saw dancing in their 60’s & 70’s were wearing short heels!  Same goes for men: wear a dress shoe with a slick bottom, which is easier to glide with.

Best Places to Tango in Buenos Aires

  • Take a “Tango Tour” of Buenos Aires:  The best way to learn Argentine tango & get an introduction, is by taking a “Tango Tour” of the city with a local guide.  You can find these on “Airbnb Experiences,” Viator, or Trip Advisor.  It’s a great way to connect with locals & get more personalized, intimate tours.  We went to a milonga on our tour & got to watch locals dance!

Cost: $18-50+

  • Watch a Professional Tango Show:  Professional tango shows can be found all over Buenos Aires, & are specifically meant for tourists.  This is where professional dancers put on a choreographed show.  Lessons may be offered first, & the show usually comes with dinner. 

Cost: $35-70 +

  • Visit “Caminito Street” in La Boca:  Caminito is a colorful street located by the port in La Boca, where tango originated.  Cafes & bars offer outdoor seating here, & nearly all feature professional tango dancers.  Sit back, enjoy some wine or a beer, & enjoy the show. But be aware: they may ask if you want to come up & dance or take a photo with them (a tip is expected)!  It adds to the fun.  Visit before 8PM daily. 

Cost: Free.

  • Take Tango Lessons:  There are dozens of places to take tango lessons in Buenos Aires.  I took mine with the #1-rated couple on Trip Advisor: Lucia y Gerry.  La Catedral del Tango also offers classes daily.  But your options are endless. 

Cost: $10-70+ (depending on lesson length) 

  • Visit a Milonga:  If you really want to learn all about Argentine tango ~ visit a milonga.  I list the best milongas for every day of the week below!  This is where locals dance tango, so it’s much more intimate & engaging than simply visiting a touristy tango show.  You can also try dancing yourself! 

Cost: Free to $10+

Best Milongas in Buenos Aires

So you’re in Buenos Aires, & you’ve already visited Caminito Street & seen a tango show.  Maybe you’ve even taken a lesson.  But now, you’re ready to watch people dance tango in a less formal environment ~ & possibly try some steps yourself!

So where do you go?  To a milonga, of course!  There are milongas all over Buenos Aires, & all have different feels.  Every night of the week, there’s a milonga going on somewhere in the city…

Best Milongas by Day of the Week

Monday Milongas = Milonga Parakultural at Salon Canning, Scalabrini Ortiz 1331, Palermo Soho.  Arrive at 11:30PM, but performances start at 2AM.  This is one of the best general milongas in Buenos Aires, meant for all ages.  Also open on Tuesdays & Fridays.  And it’s set in the fashionable Palermo Soho district, which means you can grab a fashionable dinner first. 

Tuesday Milongas = La Catedral del Tango, Sarmiento 4006 (by Calle Medrano), Buenos Aires.  La Catedral is a Buenos Aires institution, & a great place for beginners try tango.  They offer tango classes everyday between 6-7PM.  But the official milonga starts at 11PM.  Dress is casual & many people stay to practice after classes. 

Wednesday Milongas = Maldita Milonga, Perú 571, San Telmo.  We went to this milonga after a tango lesson, listened to live music, & tried out our new steps!  I loved the atmosphere, & it was great (but slightly intimidating) to watch fantastic dancers on the floor.  Arrive before 10:30PM to get a table, or make a reservation. 

If you want to see live music, this is your spot. 

All About Argentine Tango...Info for Travelers, Girl Who Travels the World

There’s always live music at Maldita Milonga in San Telmo. We visited this milonga after a 2-hour lesson with Lucia y Gerry.

Thursday Milongas = El Yeite Tango Club, Av. Cordoba 4175, Buenos Aires.  This is the young & hip, late night milonga.  Meaning: it gets good around 3AM!  If that’s too late, you can always show up at 1:30AM & get started “early.”  On Thursday nights, they also offer salsa & bachata on the downstairs dance floor.  This club is where a lot of the best dancers go & is high-energy…so, maybe not best for beginners, but a good place to watch! 

Also open on Mondays.  

Friday Milongas = La Viruta, Armenia 1366, Buenos Aires.  Located right in the middle of trendy Palermo, La Viruta is more nightclub than milonga ~ but they definitely dance tango here.  It’s a late night spot, & gets good between 2-4AM.  They’re open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday. 

If it gets too crazy for you: there are plenty of bars & restaurants nearby to duck into. 

All About Argentine Tango, Girl Who Travels the World, La Viruta

La Viruta is more like a night club than a milonga ~ but they definitely dance tango here!

Saturday Milongas = Milonga Cachirulo, Avenida Entre Ríos 1056, Buenos Aires.  This is a more traditional milonga, & an earlier one ~ it starts between 10-11PM.  Men & women sit on opposite sides of the room here, & if a man wants to dance with a woman ~ they’ll try to make eye contact with her, to get the “OK.” 

If you don’t want to dance, make sure you’re seated with friends, away from the dancers. 

Sunday Milonga = La Milonga del Indio, at Plaza Dorrego, in San Telmo.  This is a great milonga to visit after strolling the famous San Telmo Market, that happens every Sunday on Defensa Street.  The milonga starts around sundown, or when the market closes, making it one of the earliest milongas. 

It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, & you can find a seat anywhere in Plaza Dorrego to watch the dancers. 

Milonga Etiquette

This was my favorite part of learning about Argentine tango: learning the secret “language” of the milonga!  

In a traditional milonga, men & women sit on opposite sides of the room.  It reminded me of a junior high dance!  As the new set starts, men eye the women from across the room, getting a feel for who they want to dance with.  If they’re interested in a particular woman, all the man does is make eye contact with her, & raises his eyebrows. 

That’s it.

  If the woman smiles or nods acceptance, that’s considered a “yes,” & the man walks over & officially ask her to dance ~ knowing she’ll accept.  On the other hand, if the woman doesn’t want to dance ~ she simply looks away & doesn’t hold his gaze.  Simple as that!  Our guide, Maria, told us that this helps to minimize feelings of rejection, as well as any awkward encounters. 

The man can then move on to find another partner, & the woman can wait for a partner who better suits her ~ or simply rest if she’s tired! 

All About Argentine Tango, Girl Who Travels the World

The traditional milonga aims to minimize rejection, with a subtle language for finding dance partners.

If you’re visiting a milonga for the first time, & really don’t want to dance ~ that’s perfectly fine.  Just tell the hostess, & they’ll seat you in a section for “non-dancers.”  In this way, you won’t have to decline dance offers.  Maria told us that it’s best to dance at a milonga after having at least one lesson, to keep up with the flow of the dance. 

Also, be sure to tell partners that you’re a beginner if you decide to dance!

All About Argentine Tango…

I hope this post enhances your visit to Buenos Aires & Argentina!  When I was in the middle of my tango lesson, I thought to myself how great it would be, if more Americans learned to dance tango.  It’s a great lesson in intimacy ~ & in letting go of judgment & ego, to make way for learning. 

What a greater sense of connection we might feel.

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: Best Milongas in Buenos Aires