Everywhere you go in South America – from the steaming Andes to the towering Andes; bustling metropolises to tiny villages – you’ll hear music playing. And when there’s music, dancing is sure to follow. Read on to find out more about three of South America’s best dance destinations: Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Cusco.
Vibrant, beautiful and culturally diverse, South America is an awe-inspiring travel destination. With magnificent natural diversity, fascinating ancient ruins and vibrant cultures, cities and cuisines, there is an abundance of things to see and do on the continent that never sleeps. Enrolling for a dance class is a great way to get a taste of the local culture, so dust off your dancing shoes and dare to get your feet moving to the beats of the tango or the samba.
Live the triste historia of the tango in Buenos Aires
It’s no accident that the elegant Parisian boulevards of Buenos Aires and neighboring Montevideo in Uruguay gave rise to what is perhaps the most elegant and sensual dance on the planet. The movements of the tango were influenced by the Cuban habanera and the ex-slaves of the local African community with the current style first appearing in the middle of the 19th century.
Tango is really difficult to master, but you have to start somewhere. Here are some of our favorite milongas (a place or even where the tango is danced):
La Catedral, in the Almagro neighborhood, offers daily classes for all levels as well as open dance sessions. Its laidback ambiance and good food make it worth a visit.
Villa Malcolm hosts classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Light snacks and alcoholic beverages are served at this venue.
If you’re looking for a really traditional milonga, head to Club Grisel, which is located in the Boedo neighborhood. With its elegant décor, it’s the perfect location to practice the sensual dancing that is characteristic of this region.
Visiting the Sunderland Club in Villa Urquiza on a Saturday night is an unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss. Regular classes as well as shows by famous tango dances, make this one of the best tango venues in the city.
Club Almagro hosts regular dance lessons. Its simple food and welcoming ambience add to the appeal of this venue.
Samba the night away in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With its colorful carnival, fun-loving people and breath-taking landscapes, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most incredible cities on the planet. And no visit to Rio is complete without a dollop of Samba – the pulsating music and dance which embodies the energy of Brazilian city life and is influenced by African rhythms and traditions. Learning the Samba is fun (it’s by no means easy but the party vibe makes it far less daunting than the tango) and is a great way to really get under the skin of Rio de Janeiro.
You can sign up for private classes at Jaime Aroxa and practice your dance moves with experienced professionals. The air-conditioning and great amenities make this a premium venue.
Whether you want to watch an incredible show or learn to dance, you’ll get more than you expected from the Ginga Tropical Show. The performances take place at the JW Marriott hotel and they include a variety of dance styles, such as the samba and capoeira. The venue also hosts regular dance lessons.
Experience the diversity of Peru through its many dances
The myriad communities and cultures in Peru all express their identity and traditions through dance. Peruvian dancers use movement to communicate both their feelings and their unique heritage. Cusco is famous for its colorful fiestas, which showcase a diverse range of fascinating dances that are distinctive to this region.
The Dansaq, performed at the Corpus Christi feast, sees dancers adorn themselves with circular skirts and bells. The Capac Chuncho is an Inca dance which was traditionally performed during times of war. This lively dance is characterized by eye-catching headdresses and bold movements which demonstrate the men’s strength. Another charming dance that’s unique to the Cusco region is the Capac Colla which tells the stories of merchants who visited the region to trade produce. A lot of the festivals fall in the month of June and at this time of year you can expect to see a wide array of dances in the Plaza de Armas.
If you’re visiting Cusco outside of festival season, the Native Art Centre on Avenida el Sol puts on mesmerizing local dance shows all year round.
Tunupa restaurant in Cusco is a great place to enjoy delicious local dishes (and drinks!) while being entertained by local musicians and dancers.
If you’re keen to check out a dance show in Lima, Las Brisas del Titicaca (a theatre-cum-restaurant specializing in music and dance from the Puno region) is far and away the best choice. There are two shows every night except Mondays and there are also lunchtime shows on Fridays and Saturdays.
Hopefully this blog has inspired you pack your dancing shoes on your upcoming South American adventure. Even if you have two left feet, there really is no better way to immerse yourself in the infectious culture of this party-mad continent. Check out our Argentina, Brazil and Peru itineraries or speak to one of our Destination Experts about making your own dream vacation.
Credit to Leandro's World Tour for the cover image of this blog.