Tango has been filling the streets of Buenos Aires for centuries but in recent years the milongas (dances) have been moving to a different beat. Welcome to the era of alternative tango!
Nuevo tango (new tango) began to develop over twenty years ago with the adoption of different musical elements into the traditional orchestra-based tango music. Hints of jazz and classical were gradually introduced and at the same time dancers began to infuse the traditional dance steps with a combination of new styles including salsa and swing.
Nowadays you can catch all types of milongas in Buenos Aires where people dance to anything from electro tango to Elvis. Acoustic and electronic blend, dancing styles mesh and milongas are held in living rooms however even with new, alternative tango it is still not a case of ‘anything goes’. Before attempting to dance at a milonga make sure you know at least some of the basic steps, as the dance is still taken seriously and tradition prevails that those dancing in public should be good enough to warrant it.
Don’t let this put you off though as alternative tango nights are a great deal of fun and show a different side to this still dynamic dance that has been somewhat homogenized by poorer tourist shows.
On Friday nights in San Telmo, the humble Club La Independencia (Avenida Independencia 572) hosts an alternative tango night, Otros Buenos Aires (www.otrosbuenosaires.com). Here you can expect to see some of the city’s hot young dancers working themselves around the floor to anything from contemporary new tango to old jazz classics. Also recommended for a spot of new tango is Soho Tango (Cabrera 4849), which usually fills up with a young crowd, or La Catedral (Sarmiento 4006) for some alternative nights.
Another way to experience alternative tango if you aren’t quite ready to put on your dancing shoes is through the music. Electro tango is a widening genre and outfits including Gotan Project and Tanghetto are projecting it onto the international music scene. While groups such as Ultratango still regularly play in BA.
For listings of special alternative tango events keep your eye open for the bi-monthly Time Out Buenos Aires magazine and bi-lingual website www.whatsupbuenosaires.com
Whether you want to engage your feet or your ears, alternative tango offers you a different way into the nation’s cultural blood stream.
Image by zabara_tango
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