Recently added to UNESCO’s list of the world’s intangible cultural treasures, Argentinian tango has come a long way from its 19th-century origins in the slums of Buenos Aires. Today you’ll find Argentines of all ages, and devotees from around the globe, dancing in tango clubs all over Buenos Aires from dusk to dawn. Here are five of the best places in the tangopolis to watch—and to learn—the iconic dance.
Set in a 19th-century warehouse in the up-and-coming Almagro neighborhood, La Catedral attracts a young, hipster-friendly crowd, thanks to its funky-surreal décor and its anything-goes dress code. There are at least two tango classes for beginners every night, and you can stay afterwards for the milonga (open tango dance) and watch some of the city’s coolest dancers heat up the floor.
Many of Buenos Aires’ best dancers and tango teachers frequent this traditional venue in Palermo Viejo, where they offer classes for beginners on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings, with a milonga (open tango dance) immediately following. Canning regularly hosts live concerts with world-class tango musicians, along with solo performances by professional tango dancers. Check the ‘programación’ section on their website for dates and details.
This open-air tango club – set under a lovely gazebo in the middle of the Barrancas de Belgrano park – is worth a trip to the city’s tranquil north side. Held on Saturdays and Sundays from September to April, it draws tango lovers of all ages and skill levels. The dancing starts around 8pm, and there’s always a class beforehand.
One of the liveliest, and most welcoming, tango clubs in the city, La Viruta is where you’ll see beginners taking their first steps alongside Buenos Aires’ most respected tango couples. Located on the bottom floor of the Armenian Cultural Center in the Palermo Soho barrio, it’s a casual, church basement-style spot where they offer tango classes for all levels every night except Monday. There’s a milonga (open tango dance) starting at midnight from Wednesday through Saturday. On Saturdays, they also host live tango concerts.
By day, Villa Malcolm is a no-frills sports and social club in the center of the Palermo Viejo barrio. At night, it morphs into a tango hotspot where tradition meets the cutting-edge. If you’re a total beginner, you may feel overwhelmed by the classes before the milonga. Still, it’s a great place to come if you want to hang out in the epicenter of the Buenos Aires tango community – and witness some breathtaking modern tango. Classes and milongas happen seven days a week, and on Saturday evenings, there’s a beginners’ class with an English-speaking instructor.