Archive for the ‘Salones de baile’ Category

Paris of South America

April 23, 2009

That’s what Buenos Aires is often called.  There was a time when French was taught in schools.  French architecture with impressive domes is prominent in the city.  Many of the cabarets during the 1930s used French names.  Porteños enjoy croissants with café for breakfast, only they call them media lunas.  The influence of Parisian life is evident in many ways in Buenos Aires.

balajo1The same is true for Paris where tango was popular in the 1920s.  Paris has its tango clubs Le Temps Du Tango and Le Bistro Latin for many years.  The tango has left it’s mark on Parisian life. 

The last time I visited Paris was 1989.  I searched for a place to go dancing in the afternoon and found La Balajo, established in 1936.   It’s where Edith Piaf won the hearts of Parisian music lovers.   The club had a variety of music played by a deejay including tango.  It was just like an afternoon milonga in Buenos Aires.  There were more women than men so some danced alone or with another woman.  La Balajo still has tango dances in the afternoon.




Salones de baile

April 7, 2009

The ballrooms have stages where orchestras performed for dancing.


Salón La Nacional – Asociación Nazionale Italiano – Adolfo Alsina 1463 – Montserrat


Salón Reduci – Pte. Luis Sáenz Peña 1441 – Constitución  – since 1929


Salón Sur – formerly a movie theater, now a Disco – Avenida Sáenz 459 – Nueva Pompeya



Salón Suiza – Sociedad Filantropica Suiza – Rodriguez Peña 254 – San Nicolas – founded August 6, 1893

 Blacks rented the basement and first floor for dances and called it The Shimmy Club.  It’s where candombe was danced in the 1940s-70s.



Salón Asturiano – Centro Asturiano – Solis 475 – Montserrat

Where Osvaldo Centeno did his first cabeceo.

Salones de baile

April 6, 2009


The Palais de Glace opened in 1910 in Recoleta as an ice-skating rink for the upper class. When interest in skating declined, an oak floor was installed to convert it into a ballroom for tango. Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, and Julio de Caro performed there.  Posadas 1725.


Salón El Pial – Ramón L. Falcón 2750 – Flores

Thursday and Sunday dances in a modest neighborhood club with one of the largest floors in the city.

Salón Savoy – Savoy Hotel – Callao 181 – San Nicolas

The Savoy was originally built in 1910 and had a ballroom for dancing. Unfortunately, the recent renovations to return the hotel to its original splendor included meeting rooms instead of a ballroom.  The photos on this site give a glimpse back at what it was like a century ago in Buenos Aires.

Salones de baile

April 5, 2009

Salónes de baile are ballrooms of Buenos Aires where dancing was the main event.  They were established by cultural organizations that wanted a home for events.  Many of these salónes had to be closed in 2005 when new city safety regulations were established after the fire at Cromañon of December 2004.


Salón Belgrano – Av. Belgrano 3965 – Almagro


Salón Moreno – Moreno 1768 – Montserrat

Pocho Pizarro and Stella Barba held classes and a practica in Salon Moreno in 1997.



Salón Rodriguez – Club Liber Piemont – Gral. Manual A. Rodriguez 1191 – Caballito


Salón Augusteo – Societa Unione Operai Italiani – Sarmiento 1374 – San Nicolas

Established in 1858, and the building was completed in 1913.  The Teatro Colón used the salon for rehearsals this year.



Salón Akarense – Donado 1355 – Villa Ortuzar

I saw Ada Peloso dancing there in June 2001, and three months later it closed.

Centro Region Leonesa

January 28, 2009


Centro Region Leonesa, located at Humberto Primo 1462 in Constitución, was built in 1916, and it has been a dance venue for many decades.   Luis Calvo and Gaby Artaza started their milonga “Niño Bien” on Thursday nights in 1998, when the five peso entrada included a glass of champagne.  Many refer to the place as “Niño Bien.” 

A saxophone quartet was performing the night I took this photo (November 1998).  Salon Leonesa has one of the best dance floors in Buenos Aires.  The ballroom was redecorated a couple years ago and improved with air-conditioning and an elevator.  I recall the hot summer nights dancing there before A/C was installed and the ceiling fans kept the air circulating without much relief.

The first apartment I rented was located three blocks from Leonesa.  I go there regularly for either Atilio Verón’s milonga “Mi Refugio” on Monday, or Luis Trapasso’s milonga “Entre Tango y Tango” on Wednesday and Friday or  Enrique Rosich’s “Milonga de los Consagrados” on Saturday afternoon.  It’s a convenient 25-minute walk for me.   Enrique started seating women on the east side of the room and men on the west side–the other organizers have followed his lead. 

Centro Region Leonesa is one of only a handful of milonga venues with a stage for live orchestra.  You occasionally might notice strange sounds coming from the downstairs room where bagpipers rehearse.  At least their piercing sounds don’t reach the milonga upstairs.


Italia Unita

January 22, 2009

italia-unita-balvaneraThis magnificent structure, located at Tte. Gral. Juan D. Peron 2543 in the wholesale shopping district of El Once, was built in 1878.  I went to dance there on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons in 1999 where Ruben Harymbat, Enrique Rosich, and Enrique Ferreira started Milonga de los Consagrados.  Felix Picherna was the deejay in those days.  I recall dancing there with so many wonderful dancers.  The milonga lasted only a few months because of problems with management.  The building was eventually closed for renovation in October 2000 and was returned to its original splendor.  It was the last place where Juan D’Arienzo performed in the 1970s.  Today it is known as Sabor a Tango, where a nightly dinner tango show is presented in the Palazzo Rossini (named after the Italian composer).  Salon Italia Unita and Salon Agusteo (Sarmiento 1374) were two milongas during the 1950s for 35-50 year-old dancers according to milonguero Miguel Angel Balbi.




Milonga de los Consagrados in Italia Unita (November 1999) photo by Lisa Penninger

Milonga de los Consagrados in Italia Unita (November 1999) photo by Lisa Penninger

Salon La Argentina

November 2, 2008
Salon La Argentina

Salon La Argentina

 The salon was designed by architect Juan Manzini and constructed in 1902, a time when it functioned as a place for social encounters for the members of the Argentine Philanthropic Society.  Given its excellent acoustics with oak floor from Slovenia, chamber music concerts were held there during the 1910s.  The association rented the salon to organizors, some of them orchestras who played every Saturday.  During the 1930s, the first tango dance was organized by alumnos of the College of Medicine.  The 1940s was an era of splendor for the salon when it had regular gatherings.   The orchestras of Juan D’Arienzo and Osvaldo Pugliese performed on stage, and Angel Vargas, Julio Sosa, Alberto Castillo and even Carlos Gardel among many others sang there.

The ladies wore long dresses, and the men gladly paid the entrada for the privilege of inviting someone to dance with the cabeceo.  Salon La Argentina was characterized by its hierarchy, differentiating itself from other tango venues with compadritos and lower class elements.  From the 1970s to the 1990s, the salon was rented out for dances and other social events.  It remained closed from 2001-2004 for a restoration project and transformed into a modern theater while preserving the original identity of the edifice.

The address is Rodriguez Pena 361 near Corrientes.  Nearby at  Bartolome Mitre 1759 is Nuevo Salon La Argentina, named after the original, where the milonga El Arranque is held four days a week.

It must have been crowded for dancing at Salon Argentina
It must have been crowded for dancing at Salon La Argentina

Photos and historic sketch from Palacio Rodriguez Pena