Tango Buenos Aires Festival

August 13 - 26, 2014
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Photo credit: FestivalesGCBA
Buenos Aires Tango Festival and World Competition
Crowd
    Intimate to                 Massive
Attendees
    Local to                 International
Participation
    Spectator to                 Immersive
Preparation
    Simple to                 Complicated
Transformation
    Quiet to                 Life-Altering

Overview

If there’s one thing Argentina is known for, it’s tango.

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Festival Stats
  • Crowd
  • Attendees
  • Participation
  • Preparation
  • Transformation

Location

The dance competition is held at the BA Exposition Center, while other events are held throughout town, sometimes literally in the streets.

Chip's take

Argentine tango isn’t just a visual and dancing splendor; it’s a seething,…

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Argentine tango isn’t just a visual and dancing splendor; it’s a seething, sensual and psychological joust. At the core of tango is cabeceo, the non-verbal way a man invites a woman to dance, an intimate act expressing at once a man’s vulnerability and confidence in his quest to connect with the woman of his choice. For a woman to surrender to this mating dance of the eyes, she must be both full of desire and patient.

If you can experience the Buenos Aires Tango Festival with this pair of insightful glasses, you’ll find it to be one of the most entertaining and fascinating festivals in the world. If your relationship with your partner is lacking in romance, this festival may be just what you need to reignite the fire.

If your relationship with your partner is lacking in romance, this festival may be just what you need to reignite the fire.

Photos & Videos From the Festival

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  • Tango Buenos Aires Festival Tango Buenos Aires Festival
  • Tango Buenos Aires Festival

Essentials

Check out live concerts and films. You'll find them all over the city during the festival and, of course, all related to tango.

Experience the city. Eat a world-renowned Argentinean steak, cruise bohemian cafes and take mid-afternoon siestas so you can keep up with the world-class nightlife.

Learn to dance. While the festival itself is free to attend, it's worth the extra cost to take a tango class in BA—if you haven't already taken one at home.


Practicalities

Fly into Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE), and take a shuttle or cab into central Buenos Aires (there’s an airport closer to the city, but it doesn’t serve international flights). There are inclusive packages that include airfare, accommodations and admission to classes, milongas and the Tango World Championships. The festival is free, and the city is not as expensive as it used to be, so spend some money on classes back home so you can keep up with the portenos (Buenos Aires natives).

Details

The tango’s evolution from back-street bordellos to high-society ballrooms proves that sexuality cannot be contained by class—passion is in everyone. That passion is celebrated every August during the Tango Buenos Aires Festival. Pairing this famously intimate dance with a half-million spectators may seem strange, but the festival’s artistic director Gustavo Mozzi insists there’s no better platform. “Tango is at a time of growth, evolution and expansion, and the more the festival is in tune with the booming, effervescent scene, the more it turns into a live, provocative space.”

The tango may have originated in Argentine brothels. This dance oozes sex and is a visual metaphor for the very ritual of seduction.

It Takes Two

The roots of tango stretch back to the 1800s, when the port town of Buenos Aires saw a preponderance of influences—from culture and art to music and dance—meld together. Tango, which is a mixture of European stoicism and African extravagances, has ambiguous roots, but many theorize that it started amongst lower-class citizens and may have originated in Argentine brothels. This dance oozes sex and is a visual metaphor for the very ritual of seduction. In 2009, tango was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The festival’s organizers call it “the world’s biggest tango extravaganza,” and although most of Buenos Aires has tango fever all month (and pretty much all year), the festival is officially 18 days long. It begins with La Festival, a 9-day celebration of tango shows, recitals, classes, milongas (dances) and film screenings at venues across the city. La Festival opens with a massive open-air milonga, where you’ll find tens of thousands of tangueros dancing along the streets.

These opening ceremonies generate excitement for the Mundial de Tango (Tango World Championships). Last year, 8,000 people came to Luna Park to cheer on the world’s best tango dancers, who performed myriad variations of the traditional form. Legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel is the event’s emcee, and you’ll hear his lustrous baritone throughout the various competitions. His roots trace back to the 1920s, when he began singing accompaniment for dancers in Buenos Aires. The championship is an elegant, classy affair, and dancers will be dressed to the nines; it’s good idea if you are, too.

Planning on learning to tango? Classes and milongas take place every day for tango enthusiasts of all skill levels. Although no one would call tango easy, it’s not as hard as you think; just bring your passion and patience.

Professional Argentine tanguero Daniela Borgialli says it’s a lifelong commitment. “The people who are most attracted to it are the people who love a challenge—always,” she says. “They learn something new and then it's like, ‘Well, wait a minute…how does this work?’ and then there's more. The next thing you know…10 years have gone by and you’re still going.” No one conquers the tango in mere days, but like any complex relationship, it will continue to challenge and seduce you over the course of a lifetime.