survival milonga spanish

Survival Tango Spanish (2)- Essential Spanish phrases and “códigos” (rules) at milongas at Buenos Aires




Getting Started

Preparing for a trip to Buenos Aires for tango? Our Survival Milonga Spanish lesson will help you get started!

Feeling nervous for going to local milonga for the first time? Knowing some essential Spanish phrases and códigos (rules) of Buenos Aires milongas would help you feel more prepared and at ease for your first tango trip!

You can check out a daily listing of milongas at Buenos Aires at the website of Hoy milonga:

An Hoy milonga App is also available for iPhone and Android phones.



It is better to call the owner of the milonga to make a reservation before hitting a milonga, as this would help you to secure better seat(s). If you walk in, you may risk being offered a seat/table at the corner, or at the back which makes it very difficult to perform cabeceo (the use of eyes for dance invitation).


You can make a phone call to the owner and say:

Hola, me gustaría hacer una reserva para X persona(s).

Hello, I would like to make a reservation for X person(s)


The owner would ask:

¿Tu nombre?

Your name?


You can answer¨

Me llamo X, (y mi apellido es X)

My name is X, (and my surname is X)


Entering the milonga

When you arrive at the milonga, you can ask the reception for the ticket:


Quiero X entrada(s), por favor.

I want X (number) tickets, please


You may also want to ask for the price:

“¿Cuánto cuesta la entrada?¨

How much is the ticket?


After buying the ticket, wait for the owner to lead you to your seat. It is considered mal educado (bad-mannered) to find your own seat. If you don’t like the seat offered, you may politely ask for change:


¿Puedo tomar otra silla/mesa, por favor?

Can I take another seat/table, please?


Shoe changing

In Buenos Aires milonga it is considered bad manner to change your street shoes to tango shoes at your seat. You may do the shoe changing in a toilet/changing room.


You can ask for the toilet/ place for clothes changing:

¿Dónde está el baño? /¿Dónde puedo cambiar mi ropa?

Where is the toilet?/ Where can I change my clothes?


Happy dancing!


Fancy a tango Spanish class? Check out the profile of our Argentine teacher Marcella and book a lesson with her.


Want to learn more Spanish for tango? Check out:

Survival Tango Spanish (I)-Useful keywords and phrases for tango class

santa fe

Santa Fe, a friendly city


Santa Fe City is the capital of Santa Fe Province, situated in the North East of the country and surrounded by rivers Paraná and Salado. It is connected to Paraná (the capital of Entre Ríos Province) by an underwater tunnel.


This small city of about 750 square km and a population of 500.000 inhabitants is known by other provinces as Santa Fe “La Cordial” (friendly). For some reason, certain provinces in Argentina have a nickname like this. You have Salta “La Linda” (The cute or pretty), Córdoba “La docta” (the erudite), and so on.


We recommend you visit this city in fall, winter or spring, as most of the time in summer is extremely hot, with temperatures rising the 45 degrees. The “heat waves” are usual, and the level of humidity worsens the situation.


It is home to many universities and to many Argentinian students that come from other provinces to study here, as well as foreigners who come on exchange programs and stay for a semester.


Most visitors remember Santa Fe as a friendly and warm city, not only for its temperature but mainly for its people. Life quality is a big plus. Being a small city, people work mornings and then late afternoons and evenings, with a gap from noon to 4pm in which they rest, or what they call “siesta”. People come back home to have lunch with their families, take a nap, go to the gym or take a course on some interest, and then go back to work at 4pm (In some cases people work from 9 to 5, but this is not the usual thing).


During weekends the promenade is full of people who go there to jog, walk their dogs, skate, take a bike ride, sit down at the benches and have some “mate” (traditional infusion) with friends and family, or in the evenings share some beers and play some music from their car radios and hang out.


Another main feature of “santafesinos” (people from Santa Fe) is that they have a special weekday for friends. Yes! A fixed day in which all the members of the group (which could be your group of friends from school, college, team, etc.) get together, cook or order some food and enjoy the evening together, telling jokes, anecdotes from the time they’ve shared, and having fun. This gathering is called “peña”.


Our Argentinian teacher Javier is a “santafesino“, have you meet him? If not, book a class with him and learn more about this friendly city.




different dialects across argentina

Different dialects across Argentina…


Multiple Argentinian dialects? You may be more familiar with the “Porteño” dialect, found in Buenos Aires.  Being the capital and most populated city in the country, its accent has become well known around the world, for its “Italian” style and its exaggerated sound of the “s” in words, apart from the two language features called “Yeísmo” and “Voseo” covered in another post.


But this is not the only dialect found in Argentina, with 41 million inhabitants and more than 2 million square km going from the southernmost of South America up to the border with Bolivia, experiencing different climate conditions in each region and with a vast geography including mountains, glaciers, fields, rivers, ocean, hills, deserts, where cosmopolitan cities and small villages have grown to be part of a country full of diversity.


For these very reasons, dialects found across this nation are totally different one another, whether it is for the pronunciation of certain sounds, the rhythm of their speech or the use of specific grammar structures, just to mention a few examples.


Let’s classify them into these categories:

  1. Rioplatense Spanish: This dialect is the one spoken mostly in Buenos Aires and Uruguay, being both parts of the Río de la Plata region. Both accents are alike. Some of its main features are:

    1. The use of “voseo” to replace the “tú” (People say for instance: “Vos sos mi amigo” instead of saying “Tú eres mi amigo” – which means “you are my friend” as verbs in the present and imperative forms are conjugated differently).
    2. The preference for the immediate future (“Voy a ir”) instead of “Iré” and the use of simple past forms (“Fui”, “Estuve”) instead of complex forms such as “he ido”, “he estado”.
    3. Lunfardo (Covered in another post), the use of certain words originated by the Italians influence, like “pibe” which comes from the Italian word for boy “pivetto”, and many others.
    4. Yeísmo: The pronunciation of “elle” sound as the “sh” sound in English.
    5. An intonation and rhythm very similar to Italian, and also to Spanish.

2. Cuyo Spanish: This is the Spanish dialect spoken in the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, and certain areas in La Pampa, La Rioja, San Luis and Neuquén. Due to its proximity with Chile, it has many similarities, for instance, the pronunciation of the “r” sound and the “elle”.

Also, they tend to use complex verb forms of tenses such as “he ido” or “he viajado”.

But this area is influenced by others as well, so each province has been influenced by other provinces close to them (for instance San Luis shares certain characteristics with Spanish from Córdoba).

3. Cordobés Spanish: The Spanish spoken in Córdoba is popular across the country for being funny, and when you hear them speak they seem to be “singing”. One feature is they tend to extend the length of the last syllables. Some historians say this dialect differs from the rest because it is influenced by a tribe that lived in that area long time ago, called “Comechingones”.


4. Andino Spanish: This dialect, which is shared with other countries such as Perú and Bolivia, is spoken in the north of Argentina.


It is influenced by two local dialects called “quechua” and “aimara”. Some of the features including the use of complex verb tenses instead of the simple forms; and the different sounds for “y” and “ll”. There are many others we’ll be describing in future posts.

5. Paraguayan Spanish: Because of the proximity to Paraguay, certain areas of Argentina are influenced by its dialect, such as Corrientes, Formosa, the north of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos and Misiones. They share some features of other Argentinian dialects. For instance, they use the “voseo” from Río de la Plata. But they have some unique features: the use of the personal pronoun “le” to replace “lo” and “la” in direct complement and they are influenced by local dialects such as “guaraní”, “lunfardo” (described in 1) and others.


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Tango Spanish

Survival Tango Spanish (I)-Useful keywords and phrases for tango class


Very often we would take a private class with Argentine tango masters for more personal advice, instructions, and correction on our tango technique. While many Argentine tango teachers who travel internationally would have a practical level of English, still it would be useful to know some tango keywords and phrases in Spanish for better communication. And who doesn’t love to hear people speaking in their native tongue on a foreign land? You may well impress your masters and make them remember you better.


Of course, these keywords and phrase can be used in group class too…


Saludos (Saying hello)


Hola (Hello)

Me llamo…..(My name is…)

¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)

¿Todo bien? (Everything’s good?) (It is actually more common for Argentines to use “¿Todo bien? than “¿Cómo estás)

Mucho gusto (Nice to meet you)

Un placer (A pleasure)


Los pasos y la técnica (Steps and technique)


Apertura (Sidestep)

Adelante (Forward)

Atrás (Back)

Aguja (Needle)

Barrida (Sweep)

Bicicleta (Bicycle)

Castigada (Cross)

Caminar (To walk)

Calesita (Carousel)

Empujar (to push)

Enrosque (Screw)

Girar (to turn)

Ocho adelante (Front ocho)

Ocho atrás (Back ocho)

Ocho cortado (Cut ocho)

Parada (Stop)

Boleo (An embellishment caused by the whip action of the follower’s leg)

Dibujo/Lápiz (Drawing/Pencil: drawing circles or other small movements on the floor)

Molinete/Giro (A full 360-degree turn around the leader, usually done by follower in a 4-step sequence of front, side, back, side)

Sacada (Displacing the partner’s leg or foot using one’s own leg or foot)

the floor with one’s toe)

Chico/a (Small)

Grande (Big)

Hacer pasos más grandes (Make bigger steps)


At the end, don’t forget to kiss on the cheeks of your maestros, give them a big hug and say Muchas gracias!” (Thanks very much!)


Want more tango Spanish? Book a class with our Argentine teacher Marcela now!

Check out our next blog post for more survival tango Spanish expression:

Survival Tango Spanish (2)- Essential Spanish phrases and “códigos” (rules) at milongas at Buenos Aires

Speak Spanish like an Argentine! Learn voseo, yeísmo and lunfardo.

Speak Spanish like an Argentine!

Argentinian Spanish differs a lot from European Spanish. Due to several historical reasons, it has some characteristics that make it unique. Let’s find out!


Speak Spanish like an Argentine! Learn voseo, yeísmo and lunfardo.
2009.09: El Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Rodrigo Accurcio, cc by 2.0
  1. A “weird” pronunciation of Spanish words…Yeísmo?


The Argentine dialect is popular both among other Latin American countries as well as in Spain for having a very particular way of pronouncing the sound of letters “Y” and “LL” of Spanish language. Have you heard about this? In most Spanish-speaking countries these two sounds are similar, and pronounced like the “y” in the English word “yes”. However, in Argentina and Uruguay the sound is more like the “sh” English sound found in “shop”.


Do you want to practice? Check these words, and try pronouncing them both in the Spanish way and in the Argentinian way:

  • Lluvia.
  • Yo.
  • Playa.
  • Caballo.


2. They don’t use “tú” for informal treatment:


And so, what do they say when they talk to friends or family? They say “vos“. In the Rio de la Plata region (Argentina and Uruguay) people use “vos” instead of “tú” to address someone informally. The conjugation of the verb also changes (check out the table below).


In Argentina its use is strict, they hardly ever use “tú”. Uruguayans, however, use “tú” with the conjugation of “vos” and they use the words “tú” and “vosindisctinctly. They seldom conjugate verbs in the “tú” form.


One more thing: The “voseo” is only used in the present and imperative forms.

Verb:                “Vos” form  (present)       Example sentence

SER                         sos                                  Vos sos mi mejor amiga (You’re my best friend).

HABLAR                hablás                            ¡Hablás muy rápido! (You speak too fast!)

COMER                  comés                            ¿No comés verduras? (Don’t you eat veggies?)

ESCRIBIR              escribís                          Escribís lindos mensajes (You write cute messages)


3. Lunfardo, a criminal language…


Lunfardo appeared in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (the capitals of Argentina and Uruguay) during the second half of the 19th century due to the Italian immigration (the word “lunfardo” comes from the language “Lombardo” and other dialects spoken during those times in the north of Italy and some Swiss cities). Lunfardo was also influenced by the French, the English, the Galician, the Portuguese, and others.


Lunfardo started as a prison language, so that guards would not understand what the prisoners were talking about. Many of its expressions came with the arrival of European immigrants (mainly Italians) and other words actually came from the Argentine Pampa.


Some examples of it are:

  • Mina = Woman (It comes from the Italian word “femmina“)
  • Laburar = To work (From the word “lavorare” in Italian)
  • Chau = Bye (From the Italian “ciao”)
  • Quilombo = Mess (African origin, place where slaves lived)
  • Chamuyo = Words used to impress or show off but which are not true.
  • Fiaca = Laziness (From the Italian word “fiacco”).


Interested in Argentine Spanish? Book a class with our Argentine teacher!

Ready for a Spanish meal?


If you’re planning to have a Spanish meal, check this lesson before!


If you’ve travelled to Spanish-speaking countries you may have noticed there are plenty of ways to refer to the same foods and drinks in country. It’s important for you to know the most appropriate words and expressions to address a waiter at a bar or café, to order your meal or ask for the bill. If you’re planning a trip to Spain or Latin America this lesson we’ll help you to grasp the most common words when eating out.


Useful vocabulary:


Waiter / Waitress = Mozo/a, Camarero/a, Mesero/a.

The bill = La cuenta.

The tip = La propina.

Starter = Entrada.

Main Course = Plato Principal.

Menu of the day = MProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetenú del día.

Dessert = Postre.

Restaurant = Restaurante, Restorán.

Bar = Bar.

Café = Café, cafetería.

Ice-cream shop = Heladería.

Fast-Food restaurant = Restaurante de comida rápida.


Common foods and drinks in Spanish


Meat = Carne (rare=poco hecho, medium = al punto, Well-done= bien cocido)

Chicken = Pollo

Fish = Pescado

Pork = Cerdo

Lamb = Cordero

Salad = Ensalada

Tomato = Tomate

Lettuce = Lechuga

Carrot = Zanahoria

Onion = Cebolla

Rice = Arroz

Pasta = Pasta

Meatballs = Albóndigas

Sauce = Salsa

Cheese = Queso

Ham = Jamón

Bread = Pan

Water = Agua (Plain = Sin gas, Sparkling = Con gas)

Juice = Jugo (orange = de naranja, apple = de manzana)

Smoothie = Batido

Strawberry = Frutilla

Banana = Banana, Plátano

Peach = Durazno

Milk = Leche

Coffee = Café

Tea = Té

Wine = Vino

Beer = Cerveza


If you go have a meal at a restaurant you may take notes of these useful expressions:


How to order:

  • I’d like ….. = Me gustaría …… Example: I’d like to order spaghetti with meatballs. Me gustaría ordenar espagueti con albóndigas.
  • I want = Yo quiero….Example: I want a ham and cheese sandwich. Yo quiero un sandwich the jamón y queso.
  • I’m going to order = Yo voy a pedir Example: I’m going to order a coffee. Yo voy a pedir un café.


How to ask for the check:

  • Could you bring the check, please? = ¿Podría traerme la cuenta, por favor?


How to ask for a table:

  • Hi, we’d like a table for two = Hola, nos gustaría una mesa para dos.

How to ask for the menu:

  • Could you please give us the desserts menu? = ¿Podría por favor traernos la carta de postres?