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Tips for tango classes in Buenos Aires

(Photo credit and copyright Rebecca Travaglia)

The small, barely furnished living room felt cosy on an unusually humid spring eve. A murmur of disbelief went through the group as we saw what it was we were to learn. He delicately pointed his toe while wrapping his leg around the girl's before gently displacing it and causing a sweeping motion into a backward ocho. The first attempts by us students ended with dissolving into giggles - relieving the nervous tension that usually accompanies learning new steps.  My partner and I tried attempting the step slowly, to get our head around the mechanics of it all, but it just ended with my partner hopping on one foot as I tried to make sure my front leg was in the right position. Our teachers stepped in to take us individually through the step, giving us individual attention before letting us attempt it together again.

It's the type of tango class I always imagined. 6 friends gather once a week to take lessons from the professional dancers of the group. The teachers are attentive but relaxed, alternating between watching intensely and suggesting improvements, to singing loudly with the music and playing air-bandoneon giving students time to practice the step alone. Mate (tea) is often passed from person to person, during the step-explication as we stand in a circle around the demonstration. Usually one of the girls of the group had baked cookies or a cake and would bring it along for us to nibble at throughout the evening. Each of us has gathered for our shared enjoyment of dancing tango, but it was also an opportunity for us to spend time together as everyone's hectic schedule usually left little time for friendship catch ups. This is a way that we can all be together, laugh and enjoy the company of close friends, while doing something we all share an interest in. This reflects the warmth of the Argentine spirit to me and I feel so happy to be a part of this group class.

There are so many opportunities for classes in Buenos Aires that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. The amount of different styles, teachers and venues can be enough to drive a new tanguero crazy. Developing a favorite teacher can be difficult in a short space of time and trying a huge amount of classes can be exhausting for both you and your wallet. Here are some recommendations and tips to think about before you take your trip down to this wonderful city:



No problem! Plenty of classes cater for first timers. The Milongas Maldita and Bendita cater to first timers in their class before the milonga.  There are also many recommendations for private instruction from teachers who speak english and offer one off classes or week long intensive instruction. As long as you stick to classes for principiantes, you ll be welcomed!

Talk to your local community before heading out.

If you have a set amount of time here, I suggest that you go easy on yourself and sample a few of the styles or recommendations from your local tango community who have visited Buenos Aires before. Definitely talk to fellow dancers, use chat forums, research and watch videos to see if the teachers you have found, have the style that you like.

Check out the classes before milongas.

This is definitely an easy way to fit in a class while making friends and enjoying a milonga. Most classes are 1 to 1 1/2 hours before the milonga and occasionally have guest teachers who are well known dancers in the community here. The added bonus is that you can get to know some of the students in the class and guarantee yourself some tandas during the milonga. The class is also included in the price of the milonga so it makes the whole evening worthwhile.

Check availability of your favorite teachers.

Like most of us, you'll probably have some favorite star tangueros whose classes seem unattainable for many reasons - expense or availability. Often these stars are off traveling or teaching in Europe or the States so be sure to check their availability before your trip to Buenos Aires. Maybe you'll be able to catch them in your home town rather than in Buenos Aires. Don't be afraid to plan some classes before leaving and leave some spare days for those spontaneous recommendations while you're here.

Private or Group?

There are a lot of pros and cons for both of these types of lessons. Private gets you the attention to detail approach and can allow you to really focus on those little things that affect your dance rather than focusing on learning a new passage of step. Group classes can be a lot of fun, a chance to make friends and also to try newer steps you may not have tried before. Private lessons are obviously more expensive than group lessons and most visiting dancers prefer to take a mix of both in order to get the best of both worlds. Open group classes also give you the ability to dance with a variety of other people during the lesson. There are also specialized group classes catering solo to men or women's technique. This is an opportunity to really focus on your half of the tango and practice steps and techniques with your own kin. Most teachers will offer both options so get emailing if you want to get individual classes. It is better to plan before hand incase they are already booked up the week that you arrive. Also, it is best if you can confirm your individual class with the teacher, whether it is via email or telephone, a few days before your first class. It is better to ensure they have remembered me than to turn up to the first one and not have the teacher arrive.


Some places offer a group class before a practica, which functions in a similar way to a milonga but the floor is filled with people practicing steps, rather than only dancing. Again, this is an opportunity to try a group class and relax in a less formal setting to chat to other people who may have recommendations for other teachers.

Accommodation/Room mates

If you are staying at a tango hostel or guesthouse, be sure to get to know the people you are staying with. They too will probably have recommendations or suggestions and it is also fun to head to a group class with someone else so you can discuss it afterwards or even practice together. The more, the merrier!

It's common to hit the ground running when landing in Buenos Aires and it's not uncommon for people to rush at the tango scene like a bull to a flag and fill their days with classes and milongas. The crash usually comes after day 6 when the body gives up and the mind can't take in any more. Remember to take it slow, enjoy the classes and not overwhelm your mind with too much learning. The brain also needs rest in order to internalize the classes so pace yourself!


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