The Beginners Guide to Tango in Buenos Aires, by Tangocherie

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Beginners Guide to Tango in Buenos AiresWhen people travel to Argentina, most of them want a taste of tango. Either because they are tango dancers themselves or just because tango is so much a part of the culture. Either way, there are various ways to experience Argentina’s most famous export.

Tango in Buenos Aires falls into two categories: tango for tourists, and social tango that people dance in “milongas,” or tango dance halls.

Tourist tango is stage tango – what you see in all the “cena (dinner) tango shows” around town. Professional dancers perform choreography usually to live music that concentrates heavily on music by Piazzola (tango with jazz elements.) The dancers wear flashy costumes and do flashy moves and lifts; usually there is a scene in a brothel to illustrate the beginnings of tango.

The tango you see on the streets in tourist areas like Recoleta, San Telmo, Calle Florida, and La Boca is also stage tango, although the dancers are usually much less accomplished.

Stage tango is nothing at all like the “real” tango of the Argentine people, who have grown up hearing the traditional music and watching their parents dance it at weddings and parties. Most of the Argentines don’t dance tango, but they know the music and the orchestras of the Golden Age – the 40s and 50s.

With the success of touring stage shows like Tango Argentino and Forever Tango, more and more people around the globe have taken up tango. Sooner or later they try to visit Buenos Aires, the Mecca of all tango dancers. But often what they’ve learned at home is stage tango, and must start all over again in Argentina to learn the improvised “milonguero” style that is danced socially in Buenos Aires.

But young Argentines often dance another style of tango which is more athletic, and requires more space than the milonguero tango of tight embrace and small steps. This style is especially popular with European visitors.

TangocherieSo if you are visiting Buenos Aires and want to taste the tango, you can do it as a tourist, or you can jump right in with classes and watching locals dance at milongas. Along with steak and wine, tango is an Argentine national treasure.

Cherie is a published travel writer and dance critic from Los Angeles, and an expat tango dancer and teacher in Buenos Aires. She and her Argentine partner Ruben also do Tango Tours. Last year they were finalists in the Campeonato Metropolitano de Tango de Buenos Aires. You can read more on her blog, Tangocherie.


[…] ARGENTINA’S TRAVEL GUIDE: Advice and Travel Stories on Argentina, a really neat blog that is working overtime to make itself useful, asked me to write a guest post on tango. If you’d like to check out THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO TANGO IN BUENOS AIRES by yours truly, go here: […]

amanda beardall on April 11, 07


[…] Over at Argentina Travel Guide, a website of travel advice and stories contributed by other travellers, there is a nice article “The Beginners Guide to Tango in Buenos Aires” by Tangocherie, who is an expat Tango dancer and teacher living in Buenos Aires. Definitely worth your while to at least check out the Top 10 Destinations in Argentina if you were considering making the trip to Buenos Aires at some point in future! […]

[…] Cesar Gonzalez presents The Beginners Guide to Tango in Buenos Aires posted at Argentina’s Travel Guide.  You might be surprised to learn that the tango in movies and on TV is not the tango you’ll see in Buenos Aires, “the Mecca of all tango dancers.”  […]

[…] Sit back and go around the world with links to posts such as the Beginner’s Guide to Tango in Buenos Aires, the Carlsbad Village Street Faire, and of course, the Christchurch Tour Guides’s own ‘ Visit Christchurch and Spend the Night in Jail’. […]

Exit Row Seat on May 16, 07

Carnival of Cities – May 14th…

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Jami West on May 17, 07

Thanks for the great post! I had no real idea there was such a disconnect between real tango and stage tango.

Cherie on July 30, 07

So glad that I could shed a little light on my favorite topic. Please visit and learn some more. 🙂

[…] Ahh, Buenos Aires – where a dank, grimy rock scene thrives in a friendly atmosphere. Somehow this description doesn’t evoke the Buenos Aires of guidebooks and Discovery channel specials, but Tango, steak, and Malbec don’t tell the whole story. If you checked out the Buenos Aires Festival of International Music in Palermo Hollywood this week, you’re aware there’s a live music scene here in BsAs outside of Lily Allen at Luna Park. BAFIM hosted a wide range of bands from the raucous Quarteto/Ska of Los Pericos, and hipster favorites Los Alamos, to the gorgeous percussion and vocals of Mariana Baraj. There were four stages and bands all day from Thursday, August 29 through Sunday, September 2. […]

Melanie on September 30, 07

We have a ‘golden age of tango’ milonga night, dressed in 1930′ 1940’s style. Would anyone be able to advise me about that stile? Many thanks.

Cherie on October 1, 07

Hi Melanie,

Check out the look of the early scenes in Madonna’s “Evita.” Think “gangster” for the men, suits with shoulder pads and little peplum jackets or print dresses for the women, hats for both.
Carlos Gardel movies are another place to view tango outfits of the 30’s.

Sounds like fun!

[…] We went to several areas of the city before we got to our tango lesson. We purchased tango shoes handmade at 1/3 of the cost of those in the US. Our teacher was very sweet and patient with us and as we danced, others began to join us. Amazing women about 30 years younger than me found themselves in my arms, looking up to follow my interpretation of the classic music. I got to kiss each one on the cheek after a 3-minute jaunt around the dance floor. Somebody put a tango hat on my head and my wife began taking pictures of my giant grin and me. It ended all too soon with more kisses and hugs and laughs. And I did indeed find that I had manifested into Richard Gere. Perhaps even a little better looking. […]

[…] In the heart of San Telmo, across from Park Lezama, lies the elegant tango room El Tasso. El Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso – commonly known as El Tasso – is a supper club with tango orchestras, tango classes, and performances. This month El Tasso hosts their fourth annual Tango Festival with live bands and dance performances. […]

[…] Alan: I love to write, and therefore to blog, which is why its a shame for me that I don’t get much time to do so these days. However, I do have some friends that help my blog with contributions to keep it fresh… such as Tango Cherie, who writes some Tango Milonga reviews for me, and Diva (of Buenos Aires Through My Eyes), who wrote an hilarious article for my blog called “I hate Buenos Aires when…” (though i think some people that read that last one got the wrong end of the stick. Check out the comments at the end.) […]

[…] in the city of Buenos Aires is visual entertainment – from street scenes of tango dancers and stands of arts and crafts to breath-taking architecture, the city delivers significant sights […]

Madonna Meets the President on December 4, 08

[…] Christina Kirchner. She came to the country alongside her three children and a team of 200 dancers, technicians and other crew members.  Madonna has visited Argentina three times before, once to […]

National Tango Day on December 5, 08

[…] Saturday, December 6th, is the National Day of Tango.  It is coincidentally also the birthday of tango legend Carlos Gardel and orchestra conductor […]

info info antelope on June 7, 10

I like the social tango that people dance in “milongas,” or tango dance halls. It’s really cool.

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