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The Price of Addiction To Argentine Tango

It’s happened. I fell for the sultry dance, hard. (I even made its own category!)

I leave class with a big smile on my face. I read Argentine tango forums and blogs. I fall asleep thinking of boleos and molinetes. I’m not sure how my wallet feels about the possible financial impact, though.

At $12 to $15 a class, the costs quickly add up. Eventually I’ll need to get proper tango shoes which can exceed $200. My eyes are on Comme il Faut – leave it to me to pick a hobby where even the shoes are gorgeous! Then if I want to practice dancing in a social setting, I should attend practicas (after-class practices) and milongas (dance parties), which can range $10 to $15 in cover charge.

Some hard-core tango students get private lessons (~$80+ per hour) and attend festivals and special workshops all across the country, paying $40-$100 per session with traveling instructors (in addition to the price of airfare, lodging, etc.) If I get really crazy, I can actually travel to Buenos Aires, take classes with maestros and attend milongas.

In an episode of House Hunters International, a Californian couple bought a $200,000 pied-a-terre in Buenos Aires just so they can focus on tango! The lady insisted on an apartment with enough open space that she can turn into a salon for her tango parties. Now that’s dedication.

If I’m not careful, I can easily see myself spending thousands a year on this addiction hobby (4 classes / practicas a week x $15 per class = $60 per week x 40 weeks per year = $2,400 per year) just on classes alone.

But oh, the embrace, the music, the gilding steps. Though I am very budget-conscious (especially right now), there’s something about Argentine tango that makes me want to throw my budget to the wind and just dance to my heart’s content.

  • Farnoosh Brock - I guess I am the hard-core kind, although funny enough as you now know, I quit tango for a while…..I have been going to festivals, buying shoes and going to Buenos Aires in December. I’ll be broke but in heaven. I say, do it ;)!ReplyCancel

  • Mari - Welcome to the addiction! Argentine tango took over my life about 7 months ago and I’ll never be the same! And I have to admit – the shoes are amazing!! Of course I need a second job to pay for my tango expenses – except that would interfere with tango time lol.ReplyCancel

  • Pete | The Tango Notebook - Dear, you deal with the same problem all us tango enthusiasts face: working to tango!

    Here’s my basic monthly tango budget and, yes, it’s typed out in Microsoft Excel:
    - 2 private lessons @ $40 each (I split them with my partner)
    - 2 group lessons @ $20 each
    - 2 milongas a month free with group lessons

    More or less, I spend about $120/month or $1440/year on tango. That doesn’t include festivals and last-minute seminars that catch my attention (damn them all!).

    You’re on the right track, though. Tango is incredibly rewarding and compliments your current goals, so don’t be too frugal with it. Wonderful post! Thank you,

    Pete | The Coolest Tango Shoe Contest EverReplyCancel

  • L.A. Daze - Let’s go to BA together. You for tango, me for Polo.ReplyCancel

  • savvy - Aaah, tango. DH and I took lessons for a few months about two years ago and went to BA shortly thereafter. Milongas in BA are nothing like milongas or classes here in the States. While we were among the better students here, we absolutely sucked in BA. I’m talking about bumping into people, stepping on toes, etc. The club was very crowded and there wasn’t much room to move so you really had to know what you were doing.

    That said, good luck and enjoy! :-) ReplyCancel

  • Farnoosh Brock - I am getting all psyched now about Buenos Aires and just thrilled to be back into tango…..I am sure I’ll write up posts about that trip when I return. My hubby wants to focus on classes, practicas and workshops and is, well, terrified of milongas down there. I am a little braver (or something else) ;)!
    The shoes absolutely rock. On my way to Montreal and Toronto and stopping to buy my first pair of Comme Il Faut. Oh la la.
    Oh how I love tango….keep dancing :)!ReplyCancel

  • mary - i don’t tango, but if i were going to have a pied-a-terre it would undoubtedly be in buenos aires! oh my gosh, the city is heaven.ReplyCancel

  • emma - While I don’t tango, I do go to a dance studio up the street from where I live, dropping into classes at least once a week.

    I may start taking three a week, so my 20 pack of classes will not quite give me 2 months of classes … my budget will need a re-working to factor in the classes (my bulk classes end up costing around $12/class, instead of $16). More expensive than a gym, but a heck of a lot more fun!ReplyCancel

  • Cherie - Saludos de Buenos Aires!

    Your post brought to light the reality of having a hobby–money must be spent. Even if your hobby is to run, how much are the special running shoes?

    In the scheme of things, tango–or any dance–is really not that costly. Compare it with skiing, for example.

    In the beginning more money must be spent on learning; this is not the time to be frugal. You need to learn great technique that will serve you all of your dancing days, and for that you need private lessons with the best teachers. Once you can self-correct and know about the correct posture along with connection, elegance, and improvisation–you can branch out with group classes to have fun and meet people. In the meantime, you can practice at home walking, walking, walking, and ochos against the wall, always to music. Listen to the great tango orchestras at every opportunity and never practice without the music.

    You only need one pair of tango shoes while you are learning.

    After you have a basic secure technique, yes, you should go to milongas.

    And then, save your money to come down here to Buenos Aires to really know what tango is. After you've bought your airfare, life is somewhat cheaper here than Europe or the States. The best milongas are a short taxi ride away and cost $5 usd.

    And here Comme Il Faut shoes are half or less the price of what you have to pay to resellers in other countries. Also, there are many many tango shoe stores with great and sexy designs where you can buy gorgeous shoes for much less than CIF.

    So I think if you consider your return on the investment–and the fact that tango is something you can enjoy your whole life–you will find that it's an economical hobby indeed–as well as great for your health!

    Good luck! Have fun!


  • From China to California, Tango Addicts Unite - [...] actual tango dancers in the blogosphere like Fishnets & Fedoras or Well-Heeled who summarizes “The Price of Addiction to Argentine Tango” here beautifully. “In an episode of House Hunters International,” W-H writes, “a [...]ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Ah yes, I can relate. I've been dancing for 8 years and my wardrobe (and shoe collection) has completely changed from my pre-tango days. The only thing that helps is that most of my tango-worthy clothes are from vintage shops. ReplyCancel

  • JudeThom - I don't get this addiction. Something must be lacking in your life. ReplyCancel

  • 20 Ideas for a Cheaper Night Out | Well Heeled Blog - [...] you’re like my wife, you love going out because dancing is fun. But she’s also perfectly content spending the night at a dance lessons improving her [...]ReplyCancel

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