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Dancing with angels: Cafe de Los Angelitos Tango Show Review

Born in 1890 by the name of Cafe Rivadavia, this traditional corner cafe used to be a meeting point for poets, musicians and folk singers. So the story goes, the swindlers and scoundrels of the time, also used to meet there and the police officials of the barrio called them by the name of ‘little angels’. It wasn’t until 1920 that this little nickname, Cafe de los Angelitos (Little Angels’ Cafe), became the official name. According to locals, it was at this time that it was also the hot choice for dating porteños.

The cafe and theatre that now stands was rebuilt after the original cafe was torn down in 2000, 18 years after it was shut down. Its interior is both modern and elegant, evoking the original spirit through dark wood, stained glass depictions of tango and the old patterned floor tiles which adorn every old building of Buenos Aires.

Despite its 300 person capacity, the theatre retains a sense of intimacy, with its baby blue coloured walls that are lavishly decorated with gold floral accents. This coloured scheme continues right down to the detail on the plates, which can have a surreal calming effect.

There are various options available for this show that include dinner and the show, but also the option to dine in the cafe before moving through to the theatre to watch the show. Transfers are offered for an additional price. Pick up starts from hotels in various districts for dinner guests at 7.45pm and after 9.15pm for show only. Dinner is served at 8.45pm and the show starts at 10pm.  The Executive and VIP sections feature a more elaborate menu, with private tables on the main level and second floor. Regular tables are also considered private but are set out in long communal style as there are large tourist groups that often attend this show. The menu is written in English, Portuguese, Spanish and French - offering all the Argentine cuisine highlights and while a vegetarian option is not explicitly offered, the wait staff are more than happy to check what the kitchen is able to make to accommodate this preference. Drink options include a selection of red or white Argentine wines, beer or soft drinks and is continuously served up until the start of the show.

While exhibiting the long history of tango in its show, Cafe de los Angelitos also embraces the modern twist on tango music that bands such as Bajofondo and Gotan Project have been creating. The background music during dining is all ´tango electronica´ and they even have a Tango Nuevo dance number in the show. The show is an hour and a half long and delivers everything you expect from a tango show - fast agile movements with impeccable timing and dance moves that leave you breathless. They break from some other traditional shows by including the use of props and adding character and humour to the performance. Included in the heavens above the large stage, is a live orchestra which accompanies the dancers flawlessly.  

Located downstairs (accessible by lift) near the toilets, is a large function room which reportedly can be hired for parties, weddings or even tango lessons which are given by some of the dancers on request.

With such a stunningly decorated cafe and lavish theatre, it would pay to arrive early to enjoy a coffee before moving through for the dinner/theatre experience that Cafe de los Angelitos offers. And in spirit of its mischief past, it would be wrong not to accompanying the coffee with a few pieces of Argentina’s devilishly good pastries.


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