La Casa Del Tango: why Enrique Macana opened an Argentinian dance restaurant in Dubai
The new venue serves Argentinian fare, while promoting tango through live performances and private lessons
They say it takes two to tango, and over at newly opened La Casa Del Tango, the intricate dance is performed between customers and staff, with much aplomb.
The Argentinian restaurant opened in Dubai’s DIFC on Monday, with the aim of providing guests with a one-of-a-kind experience – a celebration of the partner dance form that originated in Argentina.
This means the venue – dressed in shades of red and black, and warm leathers – is divided into two parts. There’s the dining area, where staff move in and out, serving guests. Then, there is the stage area, where a variety of live performances will take place on weekends, with acts ranging from live instrumental bands, to elaborate dances and Argentinian folk musicians.
Soon, the stage will also double as a dance studio, where enthusiasts can learn the art of the tango themselves. La Casa del Tango will be starting private and group lessons, and even has an in-house boutique for guests to purchase dance shoes or traditional Argentinian dress.
“It’s a miracle,” says founder and tango dancer Enrique Macana, on being able to launch the restaurant, which has been a year in the making, just as Dubai allows live performances once more.
“Dubai is so famous, so international, that everyone invariably passes by it, whether it’s as a tourist, a resident or a connecting flight.
“I came here four years ago and saw so much potential. However, I was looking for restaurants, bars and tango, as tango is my life. And I couldn’t believe that this beautiful place didn’t have a tango restaurant yet.”
In Buenos Aires, where Macana hails from, tango houses, or venues that combine Argentinian cuisine with nightly dance performances, are commonplace. This is why Macana says he is bringing “a slice of Buenos Aires to Dubai” with this new venture.
This is also reflected in the menu. Macana brainstormed dishes with an Argentinian chef, and kept the focus on traditional fare. Dishes such as empanadas and chorizo (grilled sausage) feature, while vegetarian options include eggplant and tomato empanadas, salads, carbonada (pumpkin and vegetable stew) and smoked cauliflower. Meanwhile, a domo – a device used to slow-cook meat – is housed behind a glass case at the back of the restaurant.
Chances are you won’t spend too much time looking at the back of the restaurant, though. Macana hopes when people come in for the food, they also fall in love with the dance.
“Ever since I was a child, my dream was to become a famous tango dancer. I wanted to travel the world, bring tango to different parts of the globe,” he says. As a self-proclaimed shy child, Macana says he found his passion for tango because it allowed him to “express himself through dance” – and this is what he wants for others, too.
However, opening a dance-themed restaurant during a pandemic still seems like a risky move, even more so given the intimate and personal nature of tango. But Macana believes it's exactly what the world needs right now.
“I feel like, right now, people want to embrace more than ever. The embrace is a connection between two people. During this pandemic, when people are feeling so far away from each other, they need to have contact,” he says.
“It’s important for human beings to embrace – not just in dance forms, when it comes to different cultures, experiences. That’s how we can all better understand each other and be more peaceful and respectful.”
This is why Dubai was the perfect location, he adds, pointing out its successful vaccination drive and safety precautions. “Moreover, it is the centre of the world, where all nationalities, all cultures come together. Everyone is welcome here, and I hope now they can know and experience a little about tango.”
Updated: June 8, 2021 03:12 PM