When the taxi driver finds the address, we wonder if there's been a mistake. It's nearly midnight the time we were advised to come but the only thing visible through the smudged glass door panes is a half-filled ashtray on an old desk. When we step into the building, though, we hear the strains of tango music from up above.
My lady friend and I had come to Buenos Aires to immerse ourselves in the city's seductive, ubiquitous tango culture. Walking around, we heard the songs of Carlos Gardel tango's composer laureate waft out of cafés, and espied couples in deep embrace dancing late into the night. At the Sunday flea market in San Telmo, we joined the crowds gathered around dancing street performers. And we took in the exhilarating El Cabaret show at the Faena Hotel and Universe. But having had some lessons back in New York City, we wanted to participate, not just watch.
That's how we wind up at La Catedral. The cavernous room half dance hall, half lounge gives no hint to the passions it plays host to every night. Most of the chairs and tables were found on the street, as was much of the artwork. It gets drafty and the roof leaks when it rains. But when the music comes on, none of that matters. Young, casually dressed men and women step onto the dance floor and begin moving with exceptional grace and artistry, easily the equal of any professional (later, we're told that stage performers come here after their shows to work on their moves). The couples appear to intertwine and communicate with seemingly imperceptible gestures, becoming a single instrument through which the music flows.
We are transfixed and a little intimidated. But when we dance a few songs, using the few steps we know, no one laughs. They are too rapt in their own dance. Soon enough, our inhibitions fall away, and we too are lost in the tango. tel: (54-15) 5325 1630