Festival of Tango

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The 8th Campeonato Mundial de Baile, August 13–31, attracts tango lovers from all over the globe. Forget last month’s soccer World Cup; Buenos Aires is always number one in tango. And to understand and experience Buenos Aires, and even Argentina, you must taste the tango.
 

The 8th Campeonato Mundial de Baile, August 13–31, attracts tango lovers from all over the globe. Forget last month’s soccer World Cup; Buenos Aires is always number one in tango. And to understand and experience Buenos Aires, and even Argentina, you must taste the tango.
 

They say if you come to Buenos Aires and you haven’t danced tango, then you haven’t been to Buenos Aires! The tango permeates life, art, and the media in this Latin city that never sleeps.
 

Most visitors to this city of three million people don’t realise there are two tangos: that of dinner shows and street performances; and the more hidden tango of the people who dance socially, just as they have done for over 100 years.
 

The World Championships in August each year are divided into two categories: Stage and Salon. For two weeks the public is invited to watch professional and non-professional dancers compete, as well as enjoy lectures, films, live performances, classes, and milongas (social dances). Rub elbows with the glitterati of the tango world and participate yourself. Exhibitors sell everything from hand-made shoes, flowing costumes, and myriad CDs, books, DVDs, and souvenirs you didn’t know you needed.
 

For up-to-date information on venues, schedules, tickets, rules, and to enrol in the competition online, check out: www.tangobuenosaires.gov.ar.
 

Should a one-stop tango extravaganza not be to your taste, or if your trip doesn’t coincide with the planned festivities, there are scores of other tango options around the city 12 months of the year. Tourist tango dinner shows abound, each one more elaborate than the next (think: Las Vegas), but locals and savvy tourists go to the many milongas to get their tango fix.
 

Serious beginners who want to learn correct techniques from the outset, and advanced dancers who want to learn more ‘milonguero style’ elegance and improvisation, should consider private lessons with a milonguero (someone who has been dancing in the milongas for decades). Alternatively, group classes (usually in Spanish) flourish in dedicated schools and before most milongas. Tip: sample different classes and teachers to find the one that suits you.
 

Tango began in the streets, and even today it is a dance of the common people. No elaborate costumes are required. There are shops which cater to the tango tourist and sell flashy fringed and beaded outfits for the ladies, and striped suits and fedoras for gentlemen. But casually elegant ‘party’ clothing is preferred for dancing in the tango salons – ladies wear dresses or skirts and the men dark trousers and shirts with their tango shoes.
 

You can dance in more than 120 milongas every week in Buenos Aires – if you know where to go. Some begin in the afternoon while others go from midnight until dawn. Pick up one of the free tango magazines, listing all the options, at tango shoe stores and the Festival, or check La Porteña online: www.lptango.com.ar/en.
 

An historic salon which should not be missed is La Confiteria Ideal, the star of all the tango films. Everyone is welcome.
 

As Anibal Troilo, famous composer and bandoneon (type of accordion) player, said, “The tango is waiting for you.”
 



Buenos Aires, Argentina
Distance: 13,319 km
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