Traveling – Recommended Milongas in Istanbul, as of May 2016
Disclaimer: Things change from time to time in Istanbul. Please verify any information you find here! We are happy if you let us know if given information is outdated, thank you!
I am aware of the difficult times we face now. Terroristic acts hit many big cities around the world and in Europe. Nonetheless I will stick to sharing my experiences with you. These Tango scenes deserve your visit, these dancers deserve our dances. Don’t let some weird people prevent you from travelling and dancing around the world.
Travelling to Istanbul is fabulous for followers. Turkish dancers seem to be quite good, have a good musicality, highly developed technical skills, a nice embrace and often they are very curious to dance with “the new face” in the milonga. Compared to Greece, e.g., dancing as a single follower or a group of followers in Istanbul is quite easy.
For leaders it can be a challenge, because sometimes in turkish milongas there are more leaders than followers, which is at least not common for european leaders. Just to mention, in addition, that travelling followers might prefer to dance with turkish guys … but this varies a lot.
Most milongas are located on the european side around the taksim to şişhane area. If you plan to see many milongas, get your accommodation somewhere there. From there you can on normal days safely walk at night to and from the milonga venues.
//If you happen to be there while there are riots, demonstrations or other critical situations, especially on Istiklal Caddesi or Taksim Square: don’t stand inside of bulks of people, follow the directions of police officers, leave the area when tear gas is used. Ask around your turkish friends or milonga organizers how best to behave and what to do, they usually are very caretaking and help you in all situations. If you just see lots of cops, standing, waiting, just ignore them and walk away/your way. Furthermore it can happen that certain parts of the Internet do not work in Turkey, in the past e.g. youtube, twitter, … , depending on the actual political situation.//
A good overview about all options you can find on these websites (please make sure to double-check all information, because not all events seem up to date), as well you can find most milongas on Facebook:
In some milongas alcohol is served, in some not. Don’t be too surprised if you can’t have a good glass of wine at your dance night.
Usually only very good dancers (and the ones who travel) are used to cabeceo and mirada. So don’t be surprised – if you are a follower – if a dancer shows up right in front of you, asking you verbally for a dance and at the same time he might even grab your arm. If you are willing to dance, just follow the leader to the floor. If you are not willing to dance, say no and stay on your seat, even if he tries to pull you away. Turkish men are not used to rejections, so reactions on saying “no” vary from perplexed staring at you to loud-voiced complaints. Be aware of it 🙂
As a leader it can happen to you that none of the turkish girls reacts on your cabeceo, because they chat with friends or type on their phones, or simply do not watch out. You can either be frustrated, and/or focus on the mirada-used tourist followers, or you change your behaviour to a more active-action based one. But please, leave this behaviour in Istanbul!
At the end of a milonga or practica often some people go out to “drink a soup”. If you are invited, join the crowd, because only friends are usually invited to come. So feel honored if you get an invitation. Usually people walk to a near restaurant to eat lentil or other soups, have a tea, and then head home.
Music is usually played in Tandas with Cortinas, and I hardly ever heard more than one tanda of non or nuevo tango in one practica. In the milongas the music is 99% classic. Here comes my recommendation list, where to go if you are after high level of dancing and good comfortable milonga setting:
Galata practica, 21-22.30 h at Noa, close to Galata tower, with a wooden floor, a small bar, a relaxed atmosphere, and younger crowd.
If you are the first time in Istanbul, you can try to go to Armada Hotel (21 – 2 h). I did not like it, it has a stone floor and older/intermediate level dancers, but good dinner options.
The long year tradition is “La cumparsita”, 21:30 – 2 h, easily reachable by metro (exit at Mecidiyeköy/Sisly station, follow the exit to Ortaklar Cad.). It’s rather small, stone floor, but with very nice hosts, a small cosy bar, and an outdoor sitting area in the patio.
There is a new milonga on Tuesdays in the city centre, it is called “Milonga Dual” (21.30 – 1:30 h), but I did not try so far.
Milonga 333, 21:30 – 2 h, near Taksim square – it has the most beautiful view over the Bosporus, especially from the tiny balcony, a nice wooden floor, an extra practise room, and some shopping options (shoes and clothes). The ronda is a bit difficult because of the layout of the room. Nice hosts, good sound quality. Level of dancing is on Wednesdays usually higher than on Saturdays.
Milonga NAR, organized by teachers of the Tangolic School, location is Tango NAR, around the corner of Tangolic, nice wooden floor, friendly hosts, 21:30 – 2 h.
At Academia tango school, on Istiklal Cad., near the Galatasaray Licesi, milonga “Para Bailar”, 22:00 – 2 h. Nice wooden floor, beautiful painting on the ceiling, friendly hosts. Dancing with the assistant teachers is possible and recommended 🙂
Tangolic (in the same building like Academia, just one floor higher), 22 – 2 h. Nice wooden floor, friendly hosts, small bar. Dancing with the assistant teachers is possible and recommended 🙂
If you are more after intermediate level dancing, you can go to Milongahane (at Bora Erdem Dance Sport Centre), 21:30 – 2 h, located in Besiktas, take a Dolmus or Bus from Taksim Square. Big dance club with wooden floor, many people and lots of space, nice chill out area with sofas.
Afternoon: Practica at Tangolic (see Friday), 16 – 20 h.
At night: Milonga “El Huracan” at Noa (see Monday), 21:30 – 2 h, or 333 (see Wednesday), 21:30 – 2 h.
Afternoon: Practica at Academia (see Thursday), 17:30 – 19 h, followed by a group class, and then:
Milonga dark at Academia (see Thursday), 21 – 1 h, a milonga with candle light only!
Alternative in the afternoon: Practica NAR, (see Wednesday), 16 – 20 h.
Enjoy the turkish delights, and for some more general information on Istanbul, read here.