Tango, Buenos Aires
If in Buenos Aires, you do have to watch one of the many places that offer live Tango dances.
VTer risse73 wrote me and said it was even banned by the Vatican at one time...
I opted for one which provided dinner as well in one building, and then we moved across the street to the opposite theatre where the performances were done.
Tango is a very mysterious, complex, alluring and sultry dance which depicts the angst and joys of human desire. You see quick jerky tilts of the head, sudden spins and turns, snappy kicks and knee bending. The year 1913 was when the Tango was the dance craze in Europe.
The “bandoneon” is that small accordion which sounds so tortured, playing to the themes of complex relationships between men and women – friendship, loyalty and betrayal. Tango is also called making love in the vertical position.
What struck me most was that a middle aged lady went up the stage and then sang a song which brought tears to a lot of the Argentinian audience (I mean, you really see tears going down their cheeks! Very passionate people, indeed!). Apparently, it was a very patriotic song about the struggles of the commoner, and the locals who knew the song were easily moved.
I made a video of my short trip to Buenos Aires on Youtube. Hope you like this:
JUMPING NORMAN IN BUENOS AIRES
If you haven’t been to a Tango show in Buenos Aires I recommend the La Esquina De Carlos Gardel dinner show. The show is named after famous Argentine singer Carlos Gardel.
The theatre is located in district of Abasto is where Carlos Gardel used to hang out and dine at with his friends. When you enter the theatre you will see Carlos Gardel statue. The theatre has the ambience and the sophistication of the thirties.
The show began with the orchestra which is located above the dance stage. The orchestra playing melancholy music with female violinist doing a solo act before the Tango dancers in thirties costumes excite the audience with their intricate steps. The show has number of different scene, each scene come different artist performing different dance in relation to the stories. Not only dancers, there are also singers performing as a soloist. The show is about ninety minutes.
The dinner is a must with excellent menu. The dinner show cost $80 that was in 2006.
Now, I'll be the first person to fake a leg injury to avoid dancing in front of a crowd. It's happened before and if necessary it will again, but no one should fear a tango club while in Buenos Aires.
We went to the Bar Sur which was fairly expensive, but worth every penny. The bar is intimate and dark with an old world atmosphere and service. Pictures of celebrities like Antonio Banderas adorn the walls and low curtains prevent passersby from getting a free show. Pizza is served throughout the performances and bottles of wine are reasonable.
Demonstrations of tango dancing, singing and band instrumentals are performed right in the middle of the bar. Most of the tables border the dancefloor and there isn't a bad seat in the house. The performances last longer than you may care to stay, I spent about 2 1/2 hours there easily and I would do it again in a heartbeat as it was probably my best experience in Buenos Aires.
This club, named after Tango legend Carlos Gardel, offers dinner along with the tango show. It is a very elegant looking building, inside and outside, with top-notch service. As I mentioned in a previous tip, this is oriented toward tourists. You can likely make reservations through your hotel.
There are so many places in the city to see and dance tango that my suggestion is you choose for yourselves from the wide variety of options you have.
Many tanguerias offer beautiful shows -and indeed quite expensive- along with a meal, but you may find these tango shows to be a bit "for export" and if you would like to see the real thing what you should do is go to the places Argentinian people can afford and actually go to. -parks like Barrancas in Belgrano, are a meeting point for most spontaneous tango dancers who dont pay a cent to dance at the park...
Go to the nice old cafe "Tortoni". The next door at its left is the "Academia Nacional del Tango". There you can ask for a brochure called "El Tangauta", with adresses and schedules for the +100 places to tango in BA.
Of course everyone knows that Buenos Aires, and well Argentina I suppose, is famous for the tango. And I wanted to go see what an exceptional Tango performance was all about. I was fortunate enough to be invited by some friends to the Tango Show at "Tango Recoleta", next door to the swanky Alvear Palace Hotel in the Recoleta district.
At first thought, one might think that this is just another tourist trap catering only to gullible tourists. But though it may have had tourists, I saw mostly locals, dressed up for a night out and was overwhelmed by the performance. The show we saw was very highly regarded in the press for "giving a very commendable and worthy presentation by a prestigious group of dancers."
It was a dinner show and the food was excellent (great wine too, natch!). But the tango performance was just awe inspiring, and I came away with the feeling that we had just watched something really special. It made me want to find out more about this wonderful dance, and I hope to do just that on my next trip. Some may consider it too flashy or expensive, but it's a good way to be introduced to Tango nevertheless. Next stop -- to actually try the dance!
The semi-cheesy photo here was taken after the show with one of the dancers. Alright, it is kind of a touristy thing to do, but it was a nice souviner.
The Web link below is from a review from a Bs As newspaper and is translated (thanks to Google) into English.
While Cafe Tortoni is the most famous of the old-fashioned, elegant tango clubs, it's crowded and filled with busloads of people coming, going, order their coffee and cake, and snapping photos.
However, Confiteria Ideal is another story. A grand dame of tango salons, she's not aged particularly well....but is gracious nonetheless.
For instance, we stopped in on a Monday late afternoon, 3 or 4 o'clock, and people were tangoing the late afternoon away. We could have stayed for hours and hours, just watching the entire scene....men asking the women to dance, people dancing, people going their separate ways, and then people dancing again. Just another one of BsAs's many delights.
If you come to Buenos Aires I strongly recommend you go to a Tango Show. I've been in a couple, like Calos Gardel Corner and Aztor Piazzolla Tango show. I liked the second one better. Food was great and wine even better. The dancers and the tango singers create a very nice and cozy atmosphere.... you can't miss it! you'll love it.
This tango place is housed in one of the oldest buildings of the city, and is an icon of Buenos Aires.
The Viejo Almacén building dates from 1798, during which the first 40 years it functioned as a General Store (Almacén de campaña). Later, during 1840 it was transformed into the British Hospital where the first ether induced quirurgical operations took place in Buenos Aires. At the beginning of the century the place was bought by Paula Kravnic, daughter of a Russian inmigrant who transformed the building into a bar where the bohemians started to gather to hear this new popular music.
In 1969, Edmundo Leonel Rivero, one of the most popular Tango singers in Argentina, bought the building with the idea of preserving this traditional place as the Temple of the Tango. This is how the Viejo Almacén was born. The greatest tango singers, musicians and dancers performed at the Viejo Almacén and where applauded and celebrated by international personalities, kings and presidents of all around the world who came to Buenos Aires.
From Sunday to Thursday the show begins at 22.00 hs. and from Friday to Saturday there is show at 9:30 PM and at 11:45 PM.
Tango cafes are part of the Argentinian history. Tango started as a way of entertainment for those immigrants who spent all day working very hard and wanted to relax and have fun at night. Prohibited for women, tango was danced only by prostitutes and amongst men as well. Bit by bit, tango songs and the dance itself started gaining everyone's heart and soul.
Cafe Tortoni is the oldest of all cafes where you still can smell the life of those immigrants. Founded in 1858, still the passion and sensuality of those days are printed in each wall.
You can take a chance and see couples performing as in 1900.
Every time I see Tango in a film it's always the same picture: a man or woman bitting a red rose and walking up and down the dancefloor with the arms stretched to the sides... what the hell...??? Tango is definitely NOT that, Tango is really passionate and it's about conecting with your partner. Not many people dance tango here, or at least good tango! Whenever you go to a Milonga (that's where amateurs go to tango) don't even try! All the people who fo there are experts.
There are many couples dancing tango along Florida street and in San Telmo area, and they are all really good.
La Viruta could be an option if you want to take a few steps, as they have classes before the Milonga starts.
Check the site below to watch REAL tango!
The most famous cultural contribution to the world ever to come out of Argentina is probably the tango. While it is now considered a sophisticated and sultry artform, its origins are a little more salacious. It was originally performed by the working class of Buenos Aires's La Boca and San Telmo neighborhoods and was often accompanied by music with obscene and provocative lyrics.
Eventually the form made its way to Europe and gained acceptance in Paris and in turn by the upper classes of Buenos Aires. It was modified and refined, but thankfully it never lost its elegant and flirtatious style.
Carlos Gardel was the man primarily responsible for making tango well-known throughout the world by singing in both Hollywood and Broadway productions. Gardel's birthday, December 11th is known as Dia del Tango in Argentina and is still celebrated today.
The Tango is alive in Buenos Aires. You can see it on the streets of La Boca, San Telmo and Downtown BA.
You can also watch a tango show whilst having dinner. If you go an hour before the show starts, a lesson is part of the package. An evening of tango can be one of the highlights of your visit to BA.
La Viruta is a pretty popular place that opens every day and offers tango, rock and roll and salsa lessons the first few hours and then there's practice. The lessons are divided in elementary, intermediate and advanced, and in the practice you can find from a total rookie to an expert. The people's ages range from 25 to 75 and the ticket is just 15 pesos (5 dollars). No need to dress up! Just wear comfy clothes and shoes! From 9 o'clock onwards. But check the schedules in the website! There's an English version as well.
This working class barrio is where tango first took hold in Buenos Aires. It was originally the city's docks until they moved in the late 1800s.
The buildings are a riot of colour and there are some great bars and tango shows on offer as well as the chance to see some professionals practicing their steps outside the local tango cultural centre.
Be advised to come and go by bus or taxi (no subte). Although the touristy area is pretty safe (though watch your bags and cameras) some of the surrounding streets aren't - maybe not suprising when you consider that many locals live here in poverty and must get pretty sick of being used as a photo opportunity by thouands of tourists.