Dancing in Uruguay: Tango, Candombe, and Milonga

Like their Argentine and Brazilian neighbors, there’s no doubt that Uruguayans have dancing in their blood. Traditional dances like the tango, candombe, and milonga are an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. Here’s how to experience traditional dance on your next visit to Uruguay.

Tango
The most popular dance in Uruguay is the tango, and Montevideo has long refuted Buenos Aires’ claims as the birthplace of the iconic dance. In reality, the sultry dance emerged on both sides of the Rio de la Plata (the sliver of water that separates the two capitals), and both countries are named on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Visitors to Montevideo can see the city’s best dancers in action with a dinner show at one of the city’s historic tango venues.

Milonga
While the glitzy tango shows often steal the limelight, Uruguay’s milonga dance halls are still the best place to experience the city’s local dance scene. Montevideo’s milongas take place almost every night of the week, often with a live band and professional dancers, a pre-dance tango class, or an open dance floor where you can watch performances of more informal dance styles and street tangos.

Candombe
Although Candombe originated in Africa, the modern-day dance is quintessentially Uruguayan. It’s a feast for the eyes and ears, blending rhythmic drumming with spirited dancing. Head to Montevideo’s Parque Rodo, where you can often see live drumming troupes on the weekend, or get a taste of candombe at one of the city’s lively tango shows.
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