Canning restored

IMGP8095 Salon Canning is back on my list of possible Buenos Aires tango venues. I’ve been there twice this week. In fact I’ve been two nights in a row: ‘el lunes y el martes’. This is something I have not done for months. I had to go there on Monday night, to show it to my ‘dream dancer of Hampshire’. And we were all lured back last night by the draw of dancing to the live orchestra, Color Tango.

There is no doubt that Canning is restored to being an impressive place to take visitors. The organisers have completed their re-decoration: they have laid luxurious carpet around the dance floor under the tables; they have re-hung their gorgeous paintings and the giant photograph of  ‘Canning in action’; they have hung mirrors which bounce the light beautifully; they have installed lights to highlight the columns; even the paint colour looks good with all the finishing touches in place. Canning now has the luxurious feel that other Buenos Aires tango salons can lack. This is one of the upsides.

For me, there are several other upsides to Canning:

  • On Tuesday nights a live orchestra often plays.
  • The acoustics are good and the music is loud.
  • The ‘pista’ is beautiful: polished wood, and a perfect square.
  • It is easy to get dances.
  • It is effortless to reserve a table with a text message, which gets confirmed immediately.
  • The organisers are efficient and I find them friendly and helpful.
  • I can get there in 15 minutes on the number 15 bus.

But for me after eight months of Buenos Aires tango, Canning isn’t all good news:

  • It is a famous venue and therefore in the high season, packed with tourists. As I danced around the edge of the ‘pista’ last night, I think I heard American English being spoken at every table. OK, I know that I am still half tourist. But I have been living here a little while now and what I notice is that the standard of dancing, and the floorcraft can definitely be lowered by large numbers of holiday makers. It also means that if you want to dance with Argentines, you may be a bit disappointed.
  • The place can be absolutely packed between 12am and 2am, with the dance floor bringing back childhood memories of fairground bumper car rides.
  • Because there are a lot of tourists, there can be a higher proportion of men who are interested in something other than dancing tango. It doesn’t have to be a problem, but it is just something to be aware of. If you are here a while, you will start to know who to avoid.
  • At the moment anyway, the music selection can be a bit touch and go. Carlos complains that they often play one beautiful tango to start the tanda, but the remaining tangos just don’t live up to the first.
  • The coffee is terrible. I’ll be kind and say that the coffee is worse in a few other places but last night they didn’t have any milk (how can it be possible not to have any milk?) and so it was even worse than usual. For us coffee is an essential part of the Milonga experience. How else can you manage to stay up half the night? It may seem a tiny thing, but I think it’s a tiny thing that can easily be put right.

There are a couple of ways to get the best out of Canning, and minimise some of the downsides:

  • Get plenty of sleep beforehand and stay late. After the show, or the orchestra large numbers of tourists leave. Fresh dancers arrive from places like Villa Malcolm and the quality of dance partners, and proportion of Argentines increases. The floor clears and there is space to dance and really enjoy the splendour of the venue and the ‘pista’. As always, if you have stamina and are prepared to stick it out to the end, you will probably reap the rewards. I have had some of my best dances here late on in the night.
  • Come in the off season, find more Argentines, less tourists and more room to dance relaxed tangos.

Now, I do want to repeat that these points reflect my experiences and what is important to ME. There is only one way to make up your mind about any venue and that is to go there and experience it for yourself. There is no doubt that Canning has a splash of star quality. It is a great place to take visiting friends. It is definitely somewhere that I will be showing off to my parents when they come and see me next year. In its re-decorated state Canning is certainly a tango venue to elicit a ‘Wow!’ .

So will I be going back soon? Yes if I have visitors, or am meeting friends to socialise a little, and yes to see my favourite orchestras play. Otherwise until the big tourist season is over, possibly not. Mind you, if they install a new coffee machine and manage to get some milk… then, I might be tempted.

See pictures of yesterday in Buenos Aires, walking and Canning

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18 Responses

  1. One of my favorite memories was dancing with friends at Salon Canning, but before the makeover. I remember some great tandas and not so great ones, and a crazy floor that was slippery in spots and uneven in others. It wasn’t a floor you could relax on. From the looks of it then, you would not have taken it for a famous place…just a place like any other.

    I’d still love to give it a second go now that it is all spiffed up. On the off-season!

  2. Hi tangobaby, yep I think one of the reasons I keep going back now is the great memories I have of Canning. In my early months here Gabriella and I used to go three nights a week. We had amazing nights. We had nights when we felt like giving up. Every one of those nights I loved. Canning is part of my Buenos Aires history, and I will always want to keep it a special part of my story.

    And I know what you mean about the floor – there’s a smoothed out hole in the corner near the bar that always catches me out! SC

  3. Salon Canning can be so 50/50 never horrid but either great or meh. It looks gorgeous now! Can´t wait to return…un día.

  4. I´ve only been lucky enough to see it all spiffed up and new and it´s gorgeous. I love the layout, and especially the floor. I think it´s one of the best I´ve danced on in my trip so far.

    As for the coffee, I don´t drink it so that´s not a problem for me, but I can see how it would be for others and like you say that would be something so easy to fix… Tango gods, are you listening?

  5. I’m so relieved to hear Canning is back on the milonga route!! It sounds fabulous! We had so many good nights there and now there will be more to come! Yay! Thought of you especially on Monday night when I had a couple of amazing tandas. I wished you were there to discuss the details!! I declined what would have been a third consecutive tanda due to the social circumstances of the evening-like who I was there with. I wanted to keep dancing but knew there would be repercussions. Aahhh, the social implications/obligations and intricate situations and the post-milonga conversations! However, worry not, my dance life is as good as it can be, considering I’m not in Buenos Aires!
    Hopefully there will be some decent coffee at Canning by the time I get back-I can’t survive there without it!
    Beso, querida!

  6. …Aahhh, the social implications/obligations and intricate situations and the post-milonga conversations! …

    Bloody hell! Don’t I just know what you mean, and don’t we just love it?!!! SC

  7. Aw, I’m so glad it’s all up and running… when I was in BAs, the place was going through repairs, so I’m looking forward to see it all shiny 🙂

  8. I saw the mural back on the wall before I left but didn’t see the mirrors with the lights. Now that mustardy yellow makes sense, we just had to see it all put together. Or in my case, imagine it. Will be living vicariously through your stories.

  9. 10 more days to touch down in BsAs. Can’t wait to dance on the floor of Canning for the first time. When is the best night out to Canning?

    Saludos,

    TP

  10. Hey TP! Yes I have been reading your countdown to Buenos Aires… exciting!

    Well, I like Canning on Tuesdays because they often have a live orchestra playing and I love dancing to live music. But Monday is kind of known for being ‘Canning night’. And Friday is popular there too with people before they walk the few blocks to La Viruta. On Fridays Viruta is free entry after 3.30am, so those who want to dance all night might do Canning or another milonga till then, and Viruta until 6am! Great medialunas (the freshest and yummiest in the city) and cafe con leche available at La Viruta around 4am to keep you going! For me, although La Viruta can be a bit manic, the whole night thing has to be tried at least once…
    Whatever you decide, enjoy! And if you want any more tips please ask and I will do my best.

    Oh one other thing. When you get here try to get your hands on the free magazines like La Milonga, La Tangauta, and BA Tango for the month because you can find out what orchestras are playing where on what nights, and also who is performing at the milongas. This may help you plan things a bit. And the Caseron Porteno Tango Map and Guide has details of all the milongas, their hours and locations. All these things can be found at the milongas if you are lucky. SC

  11. Wow, SC,

    Thank you so much for the milongas infos. I guess I would have to dance two weeks non stop then, which suits me just fine. Any recommendation for tango teachers? I am going to take some privates with Javier y Andrea (main reason I am coming to BsAs this time of the year), and probably go to Copello’s school (took some private with Maxi here in NYC) for some groups as well.

    Saludos,

    TP

  12. TP,

    When I came here I had plans to take classes with various different teachers but for me I discovered that I got more out of it if I stuck to one I really liked. I tried a few but everyone told me slightly different things: my body got confused and my head got upset! In the end because I was really only a tango baby I decided it was better to learn one way and learn it well. So I stuck with Ariel (who you see on my videos): a lovely guy and for me, a great teacher.
    Maybe he is not famous, but to me that is unimportant.

    Occasionally I see a couple perform at a milonga, I love their style and I think that one day I may take a class with them. I think that’s how I would do it. Maybe that is how you have chosen your teachers for this trip. My thoughts would be, if you love how they dance and can afford it, stick with them and learn as much as possible from them.

    Group classes I gave up on long ago because I found that I learned little except maybe how to follow a sequence that I might never dance again. Also if the leaders couldn’t lead the sequence well, then it was impossible for me to follow it well. Group classes were a way of meeting people but the travel time, the time in the class on my feet in 4 inch heels… sounds mad, but it wore me out and I wanted to save myself for dancing in the milongas!!!

    What I found was that if I wanted to dance all night, I just couldn’t pack in loads of classes all day/evening as well. So I reckon, quality with someone you LOVE, not quantity… then you will learn something great AND be able to make the most of the nights too!
    GOOD LUCK! SC

  13. SC,

    I can’t possibly tell you how much I appreciate your candid opinion on this matter. It helps me to focus what i want in this trip: to be able to learn from J&A and enjoy the milongas in BsAs. Quality over quantity, that is so true. For a moment, I lost sight of that and wanted to take lessons from everyone. I felt like a kid going into a candid store.

    Thanks again,

    TP

    BTW. You’ve probably heard this many times: you looked amazing in the video, like some one who has been dancing for a long long time.

  14. Hey TP, am really happy that what I said was helpful to you. And thank you for your lovely comment about my video. It brought a wide smile to my face.

    And if you see me in the milongas please come and say hi! SC

  15. SC,

    if I see you in the milongas, I will try the cabeceo! Haha…
    Will definitely come and say hi to a beloved tango blogger.

    Thanks again,

    TP

  16. Hmm.. I’ll go to BsAs in January and what you write worries me a bit. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to choose what I like and I was thinking of sticking to the group classes mostly…
    😦

  17. Hey 545AM,

    Worry no more! We can only do what we have time to do, and after all your experience may turn out to be very different to mine.

    There is no doubt that many people find group classes that they love here. Some people then find a private teacher through the group classes. Other people see someone perform during their first couple of days and approach them for a private class. Others maybe have a tango ‘hero/heroine’ who happens to be in town when they are. All our paths are different. There is no right way or wrong way, just the way that suits each of us.

    What is certain is that there is enough variety and availability here to satisfy everyone… SC

  18. 🙂

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