Tango Ocho on Calle Ocho

Arts / Article

I wanted to do something different last weekend, so I did. I ventured out to Tango Ocho, a traditional Milonga, or tango event, that was once banned by the military government in Argentina. Held every Friday night on the second floor of a nondescript building, Tango Ocho thrives in a quaint dance studio on Miami’s infamous Calle Ocho. Men and women of all ages, dressed up and dressed down, filled the Milonga and danced all night with incredible passion.

Internationally recognized Argentinian tango dancer Lorena Arrestia, who just returned to Miami after a six month journey performing across Latin America, hosts the event that keeps the fiery cultural phenomenon of tango alive in the heart of South Florida. For a small fee of $15, I received tango lessons, tango night, where I could (but didn’t) show off my new steps on the Milonga dance floor, and a tango show.

What’s wonderful about Tango Ocho is that it is a welcoming space, a warm, unassuming and open environment completely focused on connecting humans together through tango. However, Tango Ocho is more than just tango. It is also a social event where South Floridians—friends, dance partners, old and new lovers—come together to share a common experience in the art of tango.

The pure joy and energy of tango, which UNESCO designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009, illuminated the faces of every guest. When I entered the studio, I entered another world, a piece of Argentina perhaps. I felt instantly comforted, at home, especially when I tasted the traditional Argentianian treats served by a grandmotherly woman from the Las Flores district of Buenos Aires. She wouldn’t reveal her recipes to my dance partner, but it didn’t matter. We bought more yummy treats anyway.

Lorena Arrestia

If you are not a dancer, are a dancer, want to be a dancer or if you’re just curious about tango, then you must go to Tango Ocho. Beginners and experts share the same floor without judgement—arm in arm and cheek to cheek—while Arrestia circulates among the crowd and makes everyone feel just right. Just like I felt that night.

For more information on the history of Milonga, visit here.

Tango Ocho, 1501 S.W. Eighth St., Miami, Fla. 33135 (**Note: entrance is on the side of the building on 15th Avenue. Open single glass doors and glide upstairs.) Cost: $15 per person, includes classes, tango night and tango show. Time: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.(class) and 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. (dance and tango show). Day: Every Friday. Contact: Lorena Arrestia at 786-290-5104.