Advice and Tips for Tango Tourists in Buenos Aires

by Tango

Cherie Magnus just wrote another great article on her blog: this one will help North American visitors learn the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in life between Argentina and the US or Canada. You might ask, who is Cherie and why should we listen to her?

About six months ago I became a “Facebook friend” with Cherie Magnus. She is an American from Los Angeles, CA, who moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2003 to be close to her passion – Argentine Tango. It should not surprise anyone that she found her “other” passion there as well – Ruben Aybar (see photo below).

Cherie Magnus and Ruben Aybar

Ruben and Cherie teach bilingual private Tango lessons, accompany tourists to milongas to make them feel comfortable, and organize private tours to the most interesting places in Buenos Aires. Need advice on Tango shoe shopping? They will help you as well.

With Cherie’s permission I am re-printing the highlights of her advice and tips for tourists traveling to Argentina, and Buenos Aires in particular. Please keep in mind that what you read below are her personal views and opinions which may differ from someone else. Yet, considering that Cherie knows very well North American lifestyle and customs, I would follow her advice without a hesitation if I were to visit Argentina now:


Is Buenos Aires Still Cheap? Was It Ever? Tango Tourist Tips

My first trip to Buenos Aires in 1997 was very expensive–the dollar was pegged to the peso and the city was as expensive as Paris. However I remember well that a bottle of Lopez vino tinto was 2 pesos, or $2 usd.


Remember that there is no Target, Trader Joe’s, or .99 Stores here–everything is full price and usually then some–if you can find it.

My advice to the Tango Tourist, especially the First Timer:

1) Don’t bring lots of clothes. No one knows or cares if your outfit is designer from Barneys of New York. And in fact, it helps for you to look the same at milongas so that folks recognize and remember you. That said, ladies, plan on not wearing wigs or changing your hair style too drastically. If you have a dress or blouse with back interest, that shows off better than the front while dancing.

2) Bring just one pair of comfortable tango shoes if you have them. You will want to pick up more while here, but in any event, it is not necessary to have zillions of different shoes color coordinated to go with every outfit; this marks you as “tourist.” Two or three basic black in leather and/or suede will do for the men–goat skin, or cabra, is the most flexible and comfortable. And please don’t fall for the two-toned. Ladies only need a pair or two in black, one in red, and another in a color. Beware of glittery or white shoes unless you have perfect footwork.

3) Bring a very comfortable pair of walking shoes, preferably not white.

4) If you’re not that fond of bland food, bring a small bottle of Tabasco Sauce and as well as some Lemon Pepper, garlic salt, or whatever else that gives flavor and makes you happy.

5) If you love cocktails more than wine, pick up a bottle of your favorite spirits in the Duty Free.

6) Leave your good and/or flashy jewelry at home. Cheap costume stuff is the way to go here.

7) Bring your iPod and your laptop. Most tourist residences have WiFi, and many cafes do too. Then you can download your photos and add tango and folklore music to your iPod on the spot. CDs of local music are much cheaper than at home, and furthermore most tango DJs sell great music for dancing to those who inquire at milongas (don’t worry; they pay their union/copyright fees)

8) Bring your favorite perfume, cosmetics, and OTC drugs; while many are available here (and many not), the prices are extreme. If you think you may get an infection, know which antibiotic works for you and your condition, as you can buy them OTC here. The controlled drugs are the addictive ones, like Ativan, and you do need a prescription for those.

9) Forget about ethnic food; get used to the delicious cuts of beef and pork that abound. And if your habit is to go out for breakfast, get used to coffee and sweet rolls with fake orange juice. Better and healthier to eat breakfast at your hotel or apartment and have cereals and fruit.

10) Don’t walk the streets and wait for buses in fancy dancing attire; even if it’s hot, cover the décolletage with a scarf until you get to the milonga.

11) Never take drinks into a milonga and put them on your table. You must order a consumacion from the waiter as well as leave him or her a tip.

12) Your best bet is to bring clean, new dollars to exchange for pesos. Forget Travelers Cheques; nobody takes ’em and nobody wants ’em. Don’t rely on paying for everything with a credit card. But bring 2-3 ATM cards, the easiest way to get local cash.

13) Don’t worry about going to fancy and expensive restaurants. Chances are the food is better at home. Just stick to Argentine beef, wine and salads.

14) One tango show is like another; if you must go, choose the cheapest.

15) Have a good guidebook, like SallyCat’s Happy Tangos.


The old adage still is true: bring less stuff and more money. Other than leather goods, there’s not really a lot of appealing things to buy and take home. Your money is better spent on good private tango lessons, lots of milongas, and taxis for late at night when you are tired, and even a taxi dancer if you want to quick-start your milonga experience. Splurge on the memories, which can be priceless.

To read the full article visit .


So if you are planning to go to Buenos Aires you could enhance your experience by contacting Cherie and Ruben and learning things about this wonderful city you would have missed otherwise. By the way, they do have 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor!

Please leave your comment and tell me whether you found this post useful. Already visited Bs.As.? Then share your personal experience here as well.


P. S. For those of you who either plan to go to Buenos Aires or already came back and want to see what Argentine Tango is all about, check out our Tango Atlanta page and join others who are already having a great time on Monday evenings, as well as enjoying milongas in Atlanta.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cherie February 3, 2012 at 7:20 am

Thank you, Ilya. It’s so nice to know someone actually reads my blog posts! :)

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