There is no doubt that Buenos Aires, the ‘Paris of the South’, is the home of Tango. Not only does it have countless venues and classes dedicated to the beautiful dance, they even perform it in the street just for the fun of it!
Of course it was top of our list of things to do in Buenos Aires, so a day after arriving from our trip to Antarctica, we’d already booked our first lesson and tickets to a show! We wanted to see how the experts do it and try it out for ourselves!
Our First Buenos Aires Argentine Tango Club Experience
After dressing up in our ‘best’ backpacker clothes, we set off with our friends John & Lindsay to our first Argentine Tango experience! First up was a 1 hour lesson followed by a 3 course meal and live show. Arriving to the venue, we were excited to be greeted by our dance teacher, a beautiful and elegant Argentinian lady with a good sense of humour (thankfully!).
The first part of the lesson involved simply walking around the room, easy right? Well, there’s even a special way to do this in the world of tango. Five minutes later and we were no longer simply walking but trying to master the art of slow, deliberate, seductive walking whilst maintaining a serious and intense glare across the room towards our partners. It was tricky not to giggle! Next it was time to learn the basic steps. With females on one side of the room and all the men on the opposite, it was like a dance off! Each taking turns to learn the next steps before it was time to piece it together and attempt the routine as a couple.
After practising a few times, we were amazed to be pulling off the basic moves quite well! But we soon discovered we weren’t quite tangoing properly yet…the final part of our lesson was learning to add the tricky high leg flick and swift turn of the head to pull the famously dramatic tango pose! Again it was hard not to giggle! If only we were as good as these guys…
After learning the basics of tango it was time to see the real thing, so we were ushered through to our table ready for the live performance. Luckily we had great seats just one table back from the main stage, however this turned out to be not so lucky for Barry later in the evening (more on that later). A few minutes later the lights went out and the live band started playing.
The sound of an accordion, mixed with harpsichord, violin and double bass blasted out from the musicians positioned up high in the Venetian styled balcony above us, building our anticipation. A few minutes later and a silhouetted figure appeared in front of us, a smartly dressed man with sleeked back hair who began to sing a dramatic introduction to the story of the show. A few moments later and the dancers appeared on stage to perform their opening number. The ladies wore beautifully elegant silk dresses and wavy sleek styled hair, with their partners in smart pinstripe suits and skip caps over their smooth black gelled hair.All three couples were exquisite dancers and demonstrated their amazing tango skills. What impressed us the most was the smoothness of every movement no matter how difficult or stretching it was, they moved seamlessly and elegantly from one movement to the next, whilst always maintaining intense eye contact.
The intensity of the music and dancing drew all of us in immediately, it was fascinating to watch and time just seem to disappear. Before we knew it we’d watched around 8 different routines from the couples and it was nearly half way through the evening. It was at this point that to our delight (and perhaps Barry’s horror) that he was approached by one of the beautiful dancers and invited to dance with her!
With sheer panic on his face he waved us goodbye and headed off to show off his best tango moves! Relieved that he had other couples for company on the dance floor, he survived his 2 minute ordeal and returned to the table, happy that his turn was over, or so he thought. Perhaps impressed by his moves (or maybe just unlucky for Barry!), a second dancer then approached our table and scanned the table for a willing volunteer…Barry of course! Oh dear, he wasn’t happy and couldn’t believe he was picked again out of the 4 men at our table! Oh well at least he was getting the hang of it now haha! And luckily there is no photo evidence…
Much to Barry’s relief, the second half of the show didn’t involve any audience participation, so we just sat and admired the incredible skills of the dancers. With increasing intensity and skill, each routine was more impressive than the proceeding one, culminating in an incredible final dance off amongst the three couples. Full of high lifts, rolls, jumps and flicks, it was the perfect dramatic ending to an incredible show!
We don’t usually offer must-do advice, but after witnessing an authentic Argentinian Tango performance, it is a must if you visit Buenos Aires, you won’t be disappointed! And maybe even take a lesson or two in order to appreciate how complex and difficult it really is!