For my latest piece on Buenos Aires for BBC Travel, I spent time a bit of time exploring the city’s underground tango milonga scene. A milonga (also often called a práctica) is any place where people gather to dance tango. As I detail in the article, the and the city’s collective milonga scene comprises this nocturnal world where the tango lives, thrives and evolves.
BBC Travel article: The tango Buenos Aires tourists never see
Below I’ve included some photos I took when attending different milongas, and descriptions of some of the most popular and renowned milongas and prácticas in the city as a kind of supplement to my article. I left each milonga feeling even more enchanted with Buenos Aires than I had been before, and I cannot recommend attending a milonga enough. The scene is entirely unique to the city and of obvious cultural importance. Experiencing it brings another whole level of understanding of Buenos Aires.
To get you in the mood, here is tango great Carlos Gardel singing “Mi Buenos Aires Querido,” or “My Dear Buenos Aires.”
One of the most historic venues, and the traditional milonga is always full of experienced dancers.
El Motivo Práctica at Villa Malcolm
A large venue and contemporary milonga.
An intimate, contemporary milonga that attracts a younger crowd.
A beautiful venue, and the milonga attracts an older crowd.
The milonga feels like a theater backstage, and everyone is dressed in their best.
La Glorieta Milonga
An unexpected outdoor venue in a spacious Belgrano park gazebo on Sundays, ideal for a mild night.
As I’ve metioned in a prior post about where to dance salsa and tango in Buenos Aires, La Viruta and El Catedral are popular milonga destinations too. Within tourist and foreigners circles these venues are more well known. La Viruta milongas attract some high-level dancers, while Catedral is more of a place to hang out.
The most effective way to start exploring the milonga scene is to do so with someone who is a frequenter and therefore familiar with the social codes (there’s a whole set, like don’t bump into anyone on the dance floor) and onda or vibes of each milonga. If you’re visiting the city, Narrative Tango Tours can get you in there with the insider knowledge. I tried out their milonga tour service and was highly impressed.
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