Buenos Aires, Argentina, is synonymous with tango: the passionate music, the unforgettable dance. People come from all over the world to find tango’s spiritual home, the place where tango is most vibrantly felt and most expertly danced. The place where tango culture lives and breathes every day.
However, there's no better time to discover tango than during the annual Tango Buenos Aires Festival and World Cup (called the Tango Buenos Aires Festival y Mundial in Spanish). This two-week event is typically held in August and celebrates tango culture in all its forms, with a variety of tango-related activities all over the city.
Tango championship winners — Photo courtesy of Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
The festival offers many opportunities for tango lessons for beginning, intermediate and advanced level dancers. In addition, there are plenty of spaces and parties all over the city in which to enjoy and dance tango with live bands or DJs.
One such interesting space is La Milonga del Puerto, which hearkens back to the past of Buenos Aires as a proud, tango-dancing port city of immigrants.
Tango dance cannot exist without the music, though. You can come to appreciate it at the series of concerts featuring tango music by orchestras, ensembles and tango singers (young and old, new and traditional) that perfectly capture the deep soul of tango in a few minutes of song.
You can also attend tango dance shows and dance exhibitions that combine elements of dance and theater, showcasing Buenos Aires’ strong theater roots. There is even a series of film screenings from the Golden Era of Argentine Tango, as well as tango-related talks and book launches.
The main event, however, is the Tango World Cup, the finals that determine the year’s world tango champions. The competition focuses on two categories: salon tango (tango de pista), as it is danced socially, and stage tango (tango escenario), for shows and exhibitions. Tickets are required to attend.
The first has more rules on the types of moves that are allowed, but it values improvisation. Meanwhile, the latter is more free in allowing showy moves to be incorporated from other types of dance, but the effect is more scripted. Both demonstrate that tango requires good communication between the dancers, as well as the ability to improvise.
Since 2013 dance couples of the same gender have been allowed to compete, too.
Argentine tango is a beautiful, emotive dance, where being inspired by the music and expressing emotions as one moves across the dance floor are as important as dance technique.