Update 2020 (after my Buenos Aires visit in november/december 2019): This is an update of the first version of this post, which was published one year ago.
Disclaimer: A complete milonga guide for Buenos Aires is a mission impossible as things are shifting and changing all the time.
Update 2020 – remarks:
Compared to the year before I noticed one major change: The increase of so called „hippy milongas“ – young, informal milongas, which often actively question traditional (gender) roles in tango. There is no dresscode, there are no (or only a few tables) and you often can’t reserve a spot in advance. The level is in general quite good. The ronda might be a bit difficult, as the venues are often small and a bit challenging.
Another thing I noticed was that the venues changed a lot compared to last year. I found myself very often at La Nacional and not much at Villa Malcolm or El Beso. I also visited La Viruta less than the year before. And I found that, in general, more milongas are taking place in Almagro, which is a very nice barrio and might be an option to stay for my next trip.
Here you find my milonga and practica recommendations for Buenos Aires (referring to december 2019) – a very personal selection.
On Mondays you can choose between hot, hip, traditional or just rest
- Dance until dawn at Milonga A la Parilla (close to Palermo), including party cortinas, and have breakfast with other crazy tango people at La Bomba. Be prepared: Here people like to dance as if they danced a show
- You prefer it more relaxed? Go to Muy Lunes Practica (San Telmo) and have nice dances on a small and a bit challenging dancefloor with a very welcoming atmosphere
- In case you like it more traditional: Parakultural, Salon Canning, after 2 am
- Ah, I always forget, of course El Motivo is an option as well. It is the longest running pratica in Buenos Aires (they say) and it’s at Villa Malcolm. It’s better to go there with friends as you never know how many potential dance partners you’ll find there
To be honest: For me, Monday was the day which was most appealing as a rest day (eventhough I have never taken a rest after all).
Tuesdays are for traditionalists:
- You might love it or hate it, but you have to try it: Cachirulo. My dear El Beso lovers (yes, I am one, too) you have to be strong, because Cachirulo is not at El Beso anymore, it is now at Obelisco Tango. Apart from that everything stays the same: Hector will seat you (men and women separatly), and then „all in“ for your cabeceo
- When you have enough, go to Parakultural at Canning, after 2 am (my favourite Canning day). Or skip Cachirulo, take some friends, reserve a table and do the whole Canning thing: Shows, live music, many tourists and taxi dancers…
- A more relaxed alternative is La Maria in Almagro (although I don’t like their Tuesday venue in the basement, the one on Saturday is much better). They stop at 1 am, to be continued at Salon Canning
Wednesdays are Viru-Days:
- My top recommendation before midnight: La Chiquita in Almagro, another one of these relaxed and „en vogue“ practilongas: Very warm atmosphere, good level, great venue
- Other possibilities: Cheek to Cheek (relaxed dancing in Almagro), Porteno y Bailarin (finally something traditional in El Beso) or El Rodriguez (meet some old milongueros) …maybe even try something new. I once went to La Milonguita for example, it’s refreshingly different, but better take some company with you
- Later let’s meet all at La Viruta (my favourite Viru-Day) and maybe have breakfast in front of the panaderia around the corner (La Flauta)
On Thursdays join the young crowd or play safe.
- You want to start early? Go to De Querusa until midnight or check out La Glorieta (more for the place than for the dances)
- Later join the young crowd at Batacazo, there is a lot of smoke, no air and no space, but it’s very cool. After they closed, you can walk to La Catedral, knock on the door and chill out until the morning there.
- You prefer something more traditional: Go to Lo de Balmaceda at La Nacional. There you find the more traditional package with tables, reservations, nice ronda, a good level and some really special hosts.
Fridays offer the whole spectrum from easy going to snobby:
- Up for a dance in the afternoon? Try out Cheek to Cheek practica, dancing with teachers and tourists
- You like it relaxed, social and nice? Go to Las Malevas practica in the early evening. It’s also just a lovely place for a glass of wine, an empanada and a nice chat in the „patio“
- Another option for the „early“ friday night is Dos Orillas (also called Doso) in Palermo: Crowded, hip, with good dancing
- For something more alternative, go to Milonga Del Pez Canon with new and traditional music, normally live music and shows. People dance more experimentally, and I really enjoyed the open atmosphere
- How is your mood for the second half of the night? What about a crazy, loud tango party @ Pipi Cucu, the place to be on Fridays. Just be warned, some people refer to Pipi Cucu as a „party they didn’t feel invited to“. It lasts until 6 am, so you can easily arrive very late and go somewhere else before
- And of course, there is Viru as well, just in case…some people really like La Viruta-Fridays
Saturdays are packed.
- Dance at La Maria Practica in the afternoon. They even have little snacks for free
- Then try Cachirulo at Salon Canning, it might be a bit difficult to cabeceo because the place is huge, but give your best, the dances are worth it
- Another option, more cozy is Entrevero, a smaller, good level traditional milonga. I just hate the place because of the aircon and the far too many fans – no option for me, but maybe for you
- Late at night, there it is… the new place to be, the hippy milonga La Careta. It’s in a small theater, a bit far in Recoleta, but you should go anyway. Just don’t go too early, they open at midnight, it’s packed until 3 am, you can start dancing around 3.30/4, they stop at 6 with a small breakfast.
Sundays are easy:
- La Rosa Practica in the afternoon (welcoming atmosphere, very international)
- And for the evening: If you have the chance to go to La Tremenda Milonga, take it. It’s not happening every week. It is at La Nacional, but they arrange the place differently and I loved it. They also play the famous „tanda de los lentos“.
- On other Sundays there might be La Milonga Solidaria at La Nacional, which is also a very good choice.
- Other options are: Viva la Pepa with shows and often good teachers for the seminars, or even more traditional: Gente Amiga
- Or grab some friends and go to Milonga La Comedia. Don’t go there too late, people are leaving early, it’s not too crowded (nothing compared to La Careta on Saturday night at the same venue), with „buena onda“ and new and traditional music.
- Whever you go first, we all meet in the end to visit Horacio @ Viru again – what else? It’s a very good Viru-Day.
If you have more time in Buenos Aires or are just adventurous, start exploring: Take some friends or go on your own and check out other Milongas in other barrios: Like La Baldosa, El Tacuari (great place, friendly atmosphere), Los Zucca, La Yuyu, Manzana de las Luces or La Furiosa. If you wanna go wild: There are many small milongas and practicas which are not on Hoy Milonga, sometimes you see them on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll find out.
Some helpful tips:
- To find information on milongas use the Hoy Milonga app and Facebook. And, of course, personal tips and recommendations.
- Don’t get confused: The names/organizers of the milongas count, not the venue. In one venue are very different milongas happening on different days or even on one day.
- Practicas are informal milongas, not shortened tango classes as it is here. At practicas you usually don’t need a reservation for a table, sometimes there are even no cortinas. Practicas have a relaxed atmosphere, it’s easy to get in touch with people. They can be a gentle way to get used to the tango world in Baires, as they feel more like „our“ milongas.
Just to be said: I like traditional music, generally functioning rondas, acceptable floors, and I like the cabeceo. I lived in Villa Crespo / Palermo, so maybe I didn‘t explore the San Telmo neighbourhood as much as it would have been worth it. All that certainly influenced my personal milonga selection.
I am curious to learn about you reccomendations and experiences in the comments!