On Thursday night I went to my third dinner and tango show in a week. This time I was down at the Faena Hotel + Universe for the show at Rojo Tango, considered one of the best shows in the city. This was the third show in week that I was going to see which was considered one of the best in the city, so while I was excited, it also had a lot to live up to. It was clear from the moment I walked into the hotel, though, that this was top notch quality and deserving of a title.
Of course I got there on time and had to wait a half hour for my friend to show up, so I walked around the hotel briefly, though with limited access because of private functions. The hotel was built in the El Porteño building in Puerto Madero, in a very trendy and stylish part of the city that reminds me of the Baltimore Seaport. The hotel was cast in a dim, red light, and I couldn’t tell where the hotel actually began between the three restaurants, pool, and night club.
After my friend showed up we headed into the club for our dinner. The meal was great, albeit with small portions. Together we shared a couple of appetizers, steak and raviolis, plus champagne and white wine. As I’ve said, this was the third tango show I’d seen in a week, and the service at all of these clubs has been terrific. Only through my profession have I been able to score these tickets, because otherwise two tickets to dinner and a show would run about the total of my monthly salary.
As dinner and conversation went on, the lights suddenly dimmed, smoke filled the tiny room, and the show started. We were close to the back of the room and right in front of the band wearing all white, but still only about 25 feet from the stage. This was to be an intimate show. Rojo Tango takes you through the history of tango, with different period dresses and styles. Ultimately, this performance is a bit more modern, and different from the other two I’d seen at El Viejo Almacén and Esquina Carlos Gardel. Maybe it’s because I was tired after a long day, or because my guest was getting restless, or because it was the third show in a week, but I was getting a bit bored halfway through the show.
It’s not that it wasn’t good, but with more drawn out songs than dancing, my attention started to wander. The band was excellent, as were the singers. But maybe you’re only supposed to take in a fancy tango show like that once in a while. The show took a sudden turn when two dancers started undressing, and eventually the female dancer took off her top. The crowd seemed stunned, but I had already heard about this and therefore wasn’t too surprised. Still, it’s not the kind of thing you’d expect from a tango show.
So if you’re curious to know what my final thoughts are on the three tango shows, here they are. El Viejo Almacén had the best show, yet the worst food. Well, I don’t want to say worst, but it was simply not the best of the three. It was still an excellent meal. Esquina Carlos Gardel had the best food, though I was unimpressed with the performance mainly because I had just heard that my friend’s brother passed away. So I’m calling that one a scrub for obvious reasons. In my heart, I know it was still an impressive show, though the venue was less intimate. Rojo Tango certainly had charm and class, but the show itself just left me a little bored. The food was great, and I’ll suggest that it had the rotten luck of being third on my list of shows.
So if you come to Buenos Aires and can afford to spring for it, try going to one of these shows. You won’t be disappointed either way. And of course, always try to find a milonga (tango club, real people) or watch street performers, who are undoubtedly less talented, but hey, it’s free.