I had arrived at the volunteers house early the previous morning and had since slept a good 13 hours: I was ready for my first night out in the city renowned for its extensive and vibrant nightlife. We left the apartment around 10pm - that's early here – and made our way towards the bus stop. Somewhat surprisingly, a bus came along soon enough, sweeping us up off the roadside rather like the Night Bus from the Harry Potter books.
By the time we reached our destination, darkness had officially fallen. The accompanying grey clouds looming over the derelict buildings that surrounded us gave the night an eery feel. I was excited. If you didn't know about this place, you would walk right past it. No, you would probably hurriedly skip past it. For the second time that evening, there were no signs…just an open arch doorway and a small man sitting behind a table with one of those old-fashioned money boxes you still might see at the school fair. Having paid the 50 pesos entrance fee, we climbed the stone spiral staircase behind him, taking care not to trip.
At the top, a black curtain the height of the 12m ceiling obscures your view. The cool breeze fluttering gently by tells you that it is an airy space, and you are encouraged to take a step forward. A deep red glow fills the barn-like hall, illuminating the dancers already on the floor whilst dulling the busyness of the world outside. The source of such a warm and powerful glow is a larger-than-life Chinese lantern cascading down over the wooden bar and its endless rows of wine and beer bottles. As you approach an empty table, the spell is momentarily broken by the firm claps of the profesor de tango and his cry of ‘cambio!’ The tango-ing couples come to a steady stop and their eyes scour the floor for an appropriate partner. But there is no need; their teacher does it for them. And they are off again – backs straight, cheeks touching, feet gliding.
I'm not sure I could have had a better introduction to Buenos Aires than a tranquil night soaking up the atmosphere at La Catedral tango club. Sipping on red wine and watching the locals enjoy their favourite pastime, I knew I had come to the right place. Who knows, maybe next time I'll be on the dancefloor too.