Ah, Buenos Aires! The seductive and cosmopolitan capital of an Argentina a city of contrasting scenery, rich culture and diverse neighborhoods which so throughly preserve their characteristics and idiosyncrasies. There are three things that are so deeply embedded in Buenos Aires’s culture, that they become almost defining for the city: tango, soccer and Malbec.
Tango, the Essence of Buenos Aires
One of the most fascinating things in Buenos Aires is tango. In fact, Buenos Aires is tango. This vibrant and powerful dance was born in the suburban murkiness of this city that took in millions of immigrants who mixed with the native culture. Tango became the song of the marginalized people, the soul of Buenos Aires.
There is tango everywhere in the city. You can find it in special venues, in cafés and restaurants, in people’s homes, or on the streets. “Academies” for teaching tango abounded throughout Buenos Aires.
Tango never goes out of style in Buenos Aires because it is not just a hobby, it is a culture. A lifestyle that is passed on from generation to generation.
A Unique Kind of Tango
Argentine tango is very different from the tango danced in the international and American ballrooms. It is more of an interpretive and improvisational dance with slow and very sensual movements, foot drags and leg hooks.
It exults passion like no other dance I know. The two partners dance intimately close, like in an embrace, with the man slightly leaning forward. Their bodies touch in the chest area making the two appear to move as one body, in perfect coordination.
Where to See Tango Shows in Buenos Aires
There is a wide variety of locations where you can see tango shows in Buenos Aires. Two of the most remarkable locations where you can see tango at its best are Teatro Avenida and the Confiteria.
There is also a multitude of tango parlors, clubs, and music venues that have performances every night. Some programs include dinner and a tango show. Others may just offer drinks.
We’ve spent two weeks in Buenos Aires and have seen a tango show almost every night, from low-budget to very lavish ones. There are a few that still stick to my mind as very unique experiences.
Tango Shows With Dinner
One was the most remarkable tango shows in Buenos Aires was at Esquina Carlos Gardel, which had a very romantic atmosphere.
Another very entertaining show with dinner was Tango Porteño, that re-enacts the golden age of tango – the 1940s.
El Viejo Almacen, also a tango show with dinner, was held in a historic building in Buenos Aires.
And last but not least, La Ventana, a tango show in a refurbished historical “Conventillo,” like the ones we’ve seen in La Boca, one of Buenos Aires’ most famous barrios.
Where to Dance Tango in Buenos Aires
If you want to be more than a watcher, you can go to a milonga – an organized event where people can dance tango. A milonga is also a special type of music that you can dance to and a style of dance related to tango. So you you can go to a milonga and dance milonga to a milonga tune.
The good news is that you don’t have to be able to dance tango to go to a milonga. You can just sit around the dance floor and watch other people dance, while enjoying a glass of wine. Which brings me to the second most attractive thing in Buenos Aires, the wine.
Malbec, a Wine Tradition in Buenos Aires
Malbec is the most popular wine in Argentina. The country is also one of the largest producers of Malbec the world. The dark purple grape is very high in tannins and makes full-bodied red wine.
But before it became associated with Argentina, Malbec was grown in the Southwest of France, where it was known as Cot and was used as was one of the six grapes that made the blend of red Bordeaux wine.
After the phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800s, much of the vines used for Malbec were destroyed. In 1860 the grape was brought to Argentina and found a new home in Mendoza where the climate is sunny and dry.
Interestingly enough, the Argentine Malbec turned out better than its French ancestor, so the culture of appreciation of this wine became very strong in Buenos Aires. While the French Malbec has a very high acidity, Argentine Malbec is very fruity and intense.
I am by no means a wine connoisseur, but after tasting it in Buenos Aires, Malbec became one of my favorite wines. So I did my fare share of wine tasting while visiting the city.
Read Next: Best Day Trips From Buenos Aires
The Culture of Soccer in Buenos Aires
Argentineans are by nature huge sports lovers, but soccer is by far their most beloved sport. For years Argentina has been almost identified with names like Messi, Maradona, Boca Junior, or River Plate.
But with so many teams in Buenos Aires to pick from, it’s hard to decide which team to support. Those of you who are soccer fans know what I am talking about.
Soccer is so deeply embedded in the culture of Buenos Aires that many people visit the city just to experience the tradition of a good game. Weekends in Buenos Aires bring out huge crowds of enthusiastic fans that fill the soccer stadiums.
Boca Juniors, one of the most famous Argentinean soccer teams is based in La Boca neighborhood, in the southeast part of the capital. There is an interesting story behind the colors of Boca Juniors which are blue and gold. The team decided to use the colors of the next ship that docked in port. It turned out to be a Swedish ship, which resulted in those colors being used.
I am not a soccer fan at all, but my husband is. So while we visited Buenos Aires, every time there was a game in town we had to find a restaurant that would have big screen TVs where he could watch the game. The passion I saw within the fans for their team was amazing!
A Final Word
Much can be said about the intense culture of Buenos Aires, the numerous shows, and the artistic variety the city has to offer. However, it is in the cafés of Buenos Aires that a large part of the social, artistic, and cultural life of the city lies. A “Porteño” café is not only a place for people to meet and talk politics, it is at times a vocational theatre, or a corner where lovers meet.
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