Berlin is often referred to as the European Capital of Tango and with several milongas every night of the week all around the city, it can be difficult to know where to start as a visitor. In this post I share my top five Berlin tango trip tips…
1. Research before you go
The Berlin tango scene may be vast and varied, but there are a great deal of tools which can help you plan your trip. A good place to start is the Berlin Tango Guide which has been published since 2012 and is updated annually. The paper version is available at many milongas around the city, but there is also an online version. This is also really helpful for deciding where to stay. While you are there, the Hoy Milonga Berlin App provides up to date information about daily tango events including cancellations. You can also check the information on their website. Note that the Hoy Milonga app is also available for Buenos Aires, New York and the state of North Rhine Westfalia in Germany! The apps can be downloaded here.
2. Start networking
Joining a few tango related, Berlin based facebook groups a few weeks in advance of your trip can help give you an idea of what’s going on and is also a place where you could ask questions. Try Wo tanzt du heute Abend Tango in Berlin? (where are you dancing tango this evening in Berlin?) or Berlin Tango Guide (facebook group of the guide mentioned above).
3. Consider visiting during a festival
This is not necessarily just advice for Berlin, but it’s true that the tango scene there has a reputation for being rather closed to outsiders. During a festival, there will be many people visiting from outside of the city and even from other countries. This is particularly true for a city like Berlin which is well known for its vibrant tango scene among dancers. You won’t be the only person unfamiliar with the tango scene and this can be a good opportunity to make connections for your future trips. I was in Berlin during the Embrace Tango Community festival and met dancers who had travelled from Norway, Italy, Lithuania, France and Australia.
4. Take a class or workshop
Even if you are not visiting during a festival, try to take a class or two as this is also a great way to meet local dancers. Some schools offer drop in classes or practica before their milongas. Many school offer workshops at the weekends, there are often visiting maestro/maestras, so make sure you do your research in advance of your trip. If you don’t have a partner, contact the school and see if they can help out. Many of them can help you find a dance partner – obviously the more in advance you can contact them, the more likely it is to work out. The Berlin Tango Guide, mentioned above also has some information about tango schools and teachers.
5. Stay with a local tanguero or tanguera
I booked my first week’s accommodation via bed and tango and I’m so glad I did. Run by a German, this site is kind of like air bnb for tango dancers, but without any commission charge. So far most of the accommodation offered is in Germany (with a lot of options for Berlin) and Buenos Aires, but there are quite a few options for Paris and Copenhagen too. Basically, the site is a platform for local tango dancers who want to offer a room or their sofa to a travelling tanguero or tanguera. In the best case, they can also introduce you to the tango scene. Obviously the extent to which someone will do this depends on the individual and it is clear from some of the ads that it is accommodation only. Others specify that they only provide accommodation for tango dancers. Make sure you contact the host in advance to clarify what help they can provide if this is important for you. I paid 30€ per night for my room in Berlin-Mitte, including breakfast. This was my first experience with bed and tango and it was very positive. I stayed with Laura who was a fantastic host and knows the Berlin tango scene very well. We went out together a few times during my stay and it really helped to have a local guide at the milongas!
More about that in the next post …
Your turn …
What are your top tips for dancing tango in Berlin? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!