The Blog

Tango dancing in Montevideo

Montevideo tango milonga, Uruguay by Leo AlvarezThe tango milonga —or tango salon— scene in Montevideo is much more friendly and less intimidating than in Buenos Aires.

It is frequented by a small group of mainly locals. So when they see a new face, people will come up to you to find out what you are doing there and to ask you to dance! This is very different from the competitive atmosphere in Buenos Aires.

There is also a lot more space on the dance floor, useful for beginners.

So especially if you are a beginner or intermediate dancer, Montevideo is definitely the place for you to improve your technique.

Hey, wait! I thought tango was from Argentina?

Oops, don’t catch any Uruguayan hearing you say that. Tango is a heritage shared by Argentina and Uruguay.

It is a quintessential part of music and dance from both countries, and it’s actually more accurate to refer to tango as rioplatense* – meaning that it is from the Rio de la Plata or River Plate region. In fact the world’s most famous tango is half-Uruguayan, half-Argentinian.

Days, times and costs of milongas in Uruguay

Montevideo tango milonga, Uruguay by Leo AlvarezYou can find a milonga to attend any night of the week in Montevideo. There are at least two milongas, or tango salons, open every day.

Beware! Milongas start about 9.30 pm during the week and 10.30 pm on weekends, but most dancers don’t get there until hours later! On the weekends most people arrive about 11 pm and dancing goes on till 4 am.

Monday is the quietest day of the week with the Lunera milonga run by veterans Cristina and Oscar in the classic venue with the best floor in Montevideo, Joventango.

The busiest nights are Wednesdays and Thursdays with three milongas every night to choose from.

On Wednesdays from October, you can dance in the open air at the Milonga Callejera (Street Milonga) in Plaza Liber Seregni a few blocks from the Tres Cruces bus station. Organised on the premise that anyone can and should be able to dance tango, this milonga is entirely volunteer-run and includes a free class from 8pm.

It’s super popular and a lovely atmosphere which goes on till midnight, six months a year (the warmer ones obviously) and often New Year’s Eve too.

The same group that organises the Callejera organises a milonga on the last Friday of every month at the Montevideo Agricultural Market (the MAM) – “everyone goes” says my insider tango-dancing friend (more about her below).

La Conjura Bar, a bit of a hippie joint, has tango dancing at Sunday lunchtime from 1.30 pm. You could combine this with a trip to the Tristan Narvaja flea and antique market in the morning.

Saturdays, I’d recommend you go to Lo de Margot on a Saturday night anytime from 11 pm. Margot is the Grande Dame of Tango. She’s in her 80s and you are dancing in her living room. You’ll see her toothpaste in the bathroom. Yes, seriously.

Entrance fee to the milongas is usually charged at the door and it is modest, about 200 pesos (apx 6 USD). If you take a class before you will normally not have to pay for the milonga.

8pm tango cafe concerts in Joventango

A little tip: Joventango runs a tango cafe-concert on Sunday nights, with exhibition dancing and occasional live music followed by the milonga. The good news is that the cafe-concerts start at 8pm. Unusually early for Montevideo entertainment!

Find a milonga in Montevideo

Montevideo tango milonga, Uruguay by Leo AlvarezThe Montevideo milonga calendar can change at any given time. There is no one place to go to get up-to-date information. Sigh.. I know

The most up-to-date information appears on individual milonga pages on Facebook. This is very common with cultural events in Montevideo.

Tango DJ Veronica Bares’ website is one of the most up-to-date and Vero is very quick to answer questions. It is in Spanish but uses a graph which is easy to understand.

The Guru recommends Montevideo tango milongas

I don’t dance myself but I have a very good friend who does, and she shared insider observations regarding the character of each milonga which you can read in The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo in an extensive chapter on tango in Montevideo.

You’ll find out which milongas are frequented by “tangueros de ley” (old school tango dancers who are strictly orthodox in their attire, etiquette and dancing style).

Which are more “hippie” — including dancers wearing their street shoes, even tennis shoes (sacrilege!).

And which monthly milonga is held in a crumbling Art-deco mansion frequented by members of the national ballet that’s not to be missed…

You will also find collected contact details for each milonga in English (yessss), where to take dance classes, dance class etiquette and recommended tango teachers (thinking specifically of you as a non-Uruguayan).

So what are you waiting for? Support independent publishing AND your tango dancing with the Guru’Guay Guide in paperback (new!), for tablets and phones.

 

Photos: In a testament to truely how NOT-for-export the Montevideo tango scene is, I was unable to find a single Montevideo milonga photo for commercial use, till I got lucky enough to stumble on Leo Alvarez‘s photos of the Hijos de Galicia milonga in Parque Rodó. Thanks, Leo!

14 Comments

  1. Jorge

    January 29, 2017

    Update 1-29-17:
    I went down to La Conjura Bar at about 1:45 PM. The metal overhead door was shut tight and there was no indication that they were going to open up for Tango anytime soon.

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      January 29, 2017

      Hi Jorge, a quick look at La Conjura’s facebook page tells me that they are closed throughout January for the summer holidays. If you are still looking for tango, tonight JovenTango has their classic cafe concert on from 8pm.

      Reply
      • Jorge

        January 29, 2017

        Thanks for that info. Do you know what time they usually hold the performances?

        I’m not confident enough to get up there and dance but I would like to see the performance.

        Reply
        • The Guru of Guru'Guay

          January 30, 2017

          Hi Jorge, at 8pm every Sunday. Noone will force you to dance at a milonga! The nice thing is that here in Uruguay, you can just sit and watch the dancers if you don’t dance.

          Reply
  2. Sandra

    September 19, 2016

    Hi, I´ve wanted to know if there are any Tango Dinner Shows in Montevideo. We are travelling late November. Any help is really apreciated. Many thanks.

    Reply
  3. Marie

    June 10, 2016

    I’m really looking forward to discovering the Montevideo tango scene this November 🙂 Flight booked and just started reading your guide, so I think I’m all set! I was just wondering.. is tango also danced in other parts of Uruguay?

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      June 18, 2016

      Marie, that’s so cool!! Montevideo is definitely the largest city in Uruguay by far, having 50% of the entire country’s population. I can try and find out for you. All the best, Karen

      Reply
  4. legazcue

    May 20, 2016

    congratulations,felicitaciones
    Legazcue

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      May 23, 2016

      Eres la bailarina? Que honor que hayas visitado la pagina! Gracias!

      Reply
      • amilcar

        May 23, 2016

        Muchas gracias.soy el padre de la bailarina Laura.Cordiales saludos y exitos
        amilcar

        Reply
        • Welshwitch in Uruguay

          May 23, 2016

          Un honor igual! 🙂 Felicitaciones por haber producido una hija tan talentosa. Para mi, un honor ademas fomentar la cultura tanguera del Uruguay. Cariños – Karen

          Reply
  5. Idioma Uruguay

    March 14, 2016

    Excelente artículo, gracias por mostrar nuestra cultura. Me gusta mucho su guía, muy completa. Excellent article, thank you for showing our culture. I enjoy very much your guide.

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      March 14, 2016

      I always love getting the thumbs-up from fellow Uruguayans (I consider myself an honourary one after more than 15 years living here 🙂 ) Thanks for taking the time to comment! — Karen

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.