10 December 2016

 
Enjoy the passion of the Tango in colourful Buenos Aires
The arty side of Argentina
It's famed for tango and great steak - but Deirdre Fernand finds that Buenos Aires rivals Paris for art and culture
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f New York is the Big Apple and New Orleans the Big Easy, Buenos Aires is the Big Tango. Pitch up at La Viruta, a dance hall in the Palermo district, at around 10pm and you need not leave until 4am. Buenos Aires is in thrall to tango. No wonder Pope Francis said it had been one of the greatest pleasures of his youth in Argentina.

Tango is thought to originate with Italian immigrants who settled in the 19th century. Architecture is redolent of the Europe they'd left: leafy boulevards and Belle Epoque apartments. More than 40,000 Britons visit each year, most spending a few days in town before moving to the pampas or Patagonia.
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La Boca, a colourful neighbourhood, or barrio, of Buenos Aires
The National Museum of Fine Arts
more than £20 a head. But there's much more to this exhilarating city than tango and T-bone. With art to rival any European capital, Buenos Aires is one of the great cultural cities, boasting eight impressive galleries. The National Museum of Fine Arts has an enviable collection of Degas and Cezanne. Radical Geometry showcases the best of South American modern art from Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela.

You might not be familiar with Joaquin Torres Garcia, Jesus Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez, but you'll recognise their debt to modernism and European masters such as Mondrian and Matisse. For a cultural break, Buenos Aires offers a true alternative to Paris or Madrid. Museums are uncrowded and favourite pictures never out on loan.

Because Argentina has defaulted on debt repayments, none leave the country for fear of them being impounded. So Degas's magnificent pastel of Two Dancers, for example, is always waiting. The city also rivals Europe in opera and ballet. Great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso crossed the Atlantic to perform at the Colon opera house in 1917, and it continues to attract the finest performers.At our final tango session we felt rather confident. Too much so, we soon realised. Seeing our confusion, a young woman took pity. 'It's easy,' Paola breathed, holding my husband close. Under her spell, he glided around the room. We plan to return soon. Perhaps Paola will be there. As everyone knows, it takes three to tango.


Original article published in July 2015. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
It helps that food and drink are sublime - beef straight from the grasslands and wine from incomparable Mendoza. But book late - restaurants don't fill until 10pm.They can be extraordinarily cheap. With 14 Argentine pesos to the pound, it was hard to spend
"It helps that food and drink are sublime - beef straight from the grasslands and wine from incomparable Mendoza."
 
 
 
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