I think many tourists go through Argentina without ever experiencing a Milonga, which is really a shame because it is such an important part of the culture.  It’s a term for a place or event where you can find tango dancing, but in the very traditional sense. Milongas happen all around the city, involving all different levels of dancers and age groups. The traditional aspect that I found so interesting was that men and women sit on opposite sides of the room and when a man wants to dance with a woman he tries to make eye contact with her across the room. If he does, that doesn’t necessarily give him the green light to go and dance with her – only if she nods her head in acceptance can he approach her. That means that even if you come with your spouse, you don’t necessarily dance together. I attended one at Club Grice on a Wednesday night that happened to predominantly involve an older group of people, and while most of my friends at the table were quite bored by it, I was so intrigued by how seriously everyone took the dancing. In true tango dancing, the couple dances so close that their cheeks are supposed to be pressed together, and most people seemed to be in this close a position with no awkwardness.

It takes two to tango at Buenos Aires milongas

Tango music is as dramatic and somber as you probably always imagined it to sound, a la “Scent of a Woman,” but what most amazed me was how elaborate the dresses and stockings of some of these 60 or 70 year-old women were and even more so, how at their age they managed to dance in 3-4 inch stilettos. Milongas don’t start until around 10pm and often run until 2am, even that Wednesday, so to say Buenos Aires is a nocturnal city is an understatement – even the old people stay up late. I had planned to visit another milonga to see the difference of a “young” people’s version but didn’t have a chance. Thankfully, no one attempted to make eye contact with me that night.

Electronic tango milonga