Learning to tango in Buenos Aires


From the most fleeting of interest to the fanatical, there are tango lessons for everyone in Buenos Aires. Lessons come packaged with hotel reservations and Spanish lessons, as an adjunct to tango shows and festivals as well as being offered at many of the city's milonga ballrooms. For dedicated students of tango, there are master classes led by prominent dancers year-round as well as intensive teaching sessions associated with special events. It is also possible to pursue a professional career at the city's National Academy of Tango.

Even if only in Buenos Aires for a few days on the way to a Patagonia hiking tour, tourists may sign up for one or more tango lessons the way one would yoga lessons in the U.S. Experts suggest taking at least four or five lessons to become acquainted with tango's basic movements. To become proficient takes many years. For visitors wishing to schedule tango lessons around a busy sightseeing itinerary, one very accessible option is the Escuela Argentina de Tango. The school offers several classes a day at one of its three convenient locations, on the top floor of the Borges Cultural Center in the Gallerias Pacifico, a converted train station that houses a shopping mall, cafes, art galleries and ballet studio on calle Florida in the Microcentro neighborhood; in the Teatro de la Comedia complex (where there is also a gym and yoga classes) on calle Rodriguez Pena in the Recoleta neighborhood; or weekends at the Torquato Tasso Cultural Center in the heart of the San Telmo neighborhood. Individual and group lessons are offered, ranging from 1½ hour beginners' classes to morning-long seminars. For more information, go to www.eatango.org.

Many schools that provide Spanish classes for foreigners offer two or three 90-minute tango lessons or milonga excursions to its students as part of the curriculum. Spanish classes that teach the terminology of tango are also available.

If tango is an ongoing interest and total immersion sounds appealing, planning an Argentina adventure in March makes sense. That's when Cosmotango presents the world's largest tango event, the Congreso Internacional de Tango Argentino (CITA), offering a full week of classes. It is organized by Fabian Salas, one of tango's most distinguished ambassadors who appeared in the 1997 film, The Tango Lesson. In an afternoon and evening schedule, four classes take place each day in six salons on subjects ranging from beginner fundamentals to single-focus sessions covering just one distinct element of the dance. Classes are also offered on the different styles of tango, salon (traditional), milonga (close embrace) and nuevo tango. A total of 160 classes are offered by almost fifty professional teachers.

CITA also features theater shows by the master teachers, special performances by the best professional dancers of Buenos Aires, guided practice sessions and milonga events with live orchestras. Students needn't know Spanish. Classes fill quickly. For full details, go to www.cosmotango.com.

More cutting-edge types may want to schedule their trip when Norberto Esbrez is in town. One of tango's controversial innovators, he is nicknamed El Pulpo (the octopus) for his flamboyant style. When not teaching or performing in some other part of the world, El Pulpo teaches in Buenos Aires.

Tango Hotels

Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps, and tangoing until dawn is common. Several hotels have been designed with the tanguero in mind. The luxurious fifteen-room Mansion Dandi Royal, is a turn of the century stately home turned boutique hotel in the San Telmo neighborhood. It offers tango packages as well as classes in its basement dance studio and is located next door to a tango salon. Nearby is Lina's Tango Guest House, a boutique hotel that offers private tango lessons, recommends milongas to visit and sells tango shoes. Caseron Porteno is a ten-room guest house with a small dance studio located in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood. It offers free group tango lessons and use of its dance floor. Private tango and/or Spanish lessons may be arranged.

Travelers to Buenos Aires interested in watching instead of learning the tango may want to read our website article, "Watching Tango in Buenos Aires."