Encore Buenos Aires!

Business Traveler|November 2019

Encore Buenos Aires!
Even as it uncovers its past, Argentina’s capital tangoes with the future
By Gretchen Kelly

Two decades of tourism dollars flowing into Buenos Aires has had an effect. The formerly funky-cool streets of San Telmo and La Boca are now marked by “For Sale” signs on paint-faded French doors and ancient family mansions. Real estate sales in these barrios has rocketed and some of these atmospheric residences are being torn down and replaced by chic, high-design condominiums.

The “tango-for-export” culture of the late 1990s when Madonna’s “Evita” – filmed largely in Buenos Aires – brought wide-eyed wanna-be tangoistas to milongas (tango tea dances) and nightly shows in San Telmo is not gone. But today, a milonga at one of the city’s trendy dance clubs might end up being a group salsa dance rather than the steamy thrust and give of traditional tango.

Buenos Aires is still a lively city of colorful barrios – such as areas dubbed “Palmero Hollywood” and “Palmero Soho” for their distinct style-vibes. But increasingly, these areas are being marked by gentrification. As money and business revitalizes, it creates challenges for locals and for generations-old businesses to survive.

When Business Traveler first covered Buenos Aires as a destination in the early 2000’s, the Argentine peso was fragilely pegged to the US dollar. A steak dinner for one at the legendary Cabaña Las Lilas restaurant cost a hefty 60 dollars and a taxi ride from posh Recoleta to a tango show in arty San Telmo could set business travelers back 20 dollars or more.

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November 2019