Rojo Tango: Our Favorite Show in Buenos Aires

by Miles Griffis

Consider the lines “if the universe of a glorious kiss/ still embraces my life” by Argentine writer and poet, Jorge Luis Borges, as you arrive at the Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires for the award-winning Rojo Tango show.

Indulge in the thought of that kiss, one full of worlds and stars and space and time as you walk through the hotel’s long, over-the-top, Starckian lobby that drips curtains of red velvet onto dark wood floors. Consider the gold embellishments climbing the refurbished bricks to lofty ceilings as you pass the hotel’s pool ornamented by an enormous crown fountain that some very sexy people were swimming below earlier in the day in some very sexy Argentine sun.

Consider them, but also the white unicorn heads (with red eyes) hung above the fashionable diners of the hotel’s restaurant, Bistro Sur, as well as the cocktail sippers in the zippy bar, Library Room, and understand why the hotel is a Flaunt must when we zip direct from the City of Angels to the City of Fair Winds.

Do all of the above, but be sure not to be late for your reservation at Rojo Tango where a rich Argentine dinner (complemented with the country’s famous Malbecs from Mendoza, Patagonia, and Cafayate) will be uncorked in an the intimate room of El Cabaret, beside a stage that will soon be filled with twirling dancers. As you’re seated, be sure to look around at your peers for the show is one of not only Argentina’s favorites, but Hollywood’s—past guests of the exclusive show include Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, Bono, Sting, Antonio Banderas, Keith Richards and Ron Woods, John Kelly, Teri Hatcher, and John Travolta.

After the desserts richly glossed in dulce de leche are cleared and the second (or third or fourth) glass of wine is poured, the lights will dim and behind you, a quintet orchestra in luxuriously detailed red-and-black suits will begin to play the perpetually arresting “Lluvia de estrellas”.

The song begins with the pianist before he is joined by two bandoneónists (perhaps the heart of the tango show), a double bassist, and a dramatic violinist. As soon as the mood is set, everyone turns their attention from the band behind them to the stage before them, where a pair have suddenly begun dancing in a close abrazo cerrado hold as the woman’s leg slides up the lead’s. Their costumes are ornate 1920’s ensembles—flapper dresses, furs, tuxes, cloche hats— they are soon joined by four more pairs until there is a perfectly choreographed flurry of dipping, dress twirling, and lifts, the women’s feet nearly skimming the front row during spinning leg wraps.

The many following performances follow one after another flawlessly like pearls on a necklace. They alternate between exciting group choreography that fills the stage, room, and bar top at large, romantic one-on-one solos that will have you considering signing up for dancing lessons after the show, and lovely vocal performances by Vanesa Quiroz and Ariel Altieri. The show oscillates between slow and fast, soul-stirring and high entertainment. Towards the middle, the show does not slump, it begins its modern take on tango.

It isn’t only the costume changes to more contemporary, high fashion wear (like one man in bright purple pants and a green short sleeve button-up that is very Prada Spring-Summer 2019), but particularly, it’s the attention to choreography that becomes less rigid in the traditional—combining further elements of swing and modern dance. There are also innovative, sensual scenes, like the shirtless sax performance by a man in tight, white pants who woos his partner, before he places the sax down and they dance, the two of them, across the room. Each short three to five minute dance within the 90-minute show is its own story, ones of love, of lust, loss, community, that celebrate the cultural history of Argentina, paying  tribute to the form that originated over 140 years ago along the Río de Plata from African, European, and Indigenous peoples.

It is not long after the last chord of the song “Rojo Tango” is struck that the dancers and musicians begin bow and the small room roars in applause. It is not long after you are finishing off your last glass of Malbec, walking the long, red hallway of the Faena into the night air of the Puerto Madero neighborhood with the dramatic crescendos of  “Lluvia de estrellas” still stuck in your head that you are Googling the best place to dance in Buenos Aires, sure that “the universe of a glorious kiss/ still embraces (your) life.”


Photos courtesy of Rojo Tango at the Faena Hotel