Montreal tango, short guide from a Boston dancer

September 2005

I recently traveled to Montreal and Ottawa Canada for a few days...I had a great experience in these French flavored cities and I thought some info could be useful for tangueros or anyone who plans to visit this country. Here are a few things on traveling and tango there.

Arrived at Montreal a day before The US labor day, and was pleasantly surprised to see the fireworks over Montreal's skyline; apparently Canadians have a national holiday on the same day as Americans do.

It is fairly easy to go to Montreal from Boston. provides maps of Canada. To make your driving less tiresome and monotonic my advice to you is to have a great companion, or wingman. I certainly had a great one. Anyway, border crossing procedures are fairly quick at night.

When you are about to enter Montreal, the highway you are on splits into route 10 and route 15. Make sure you know which route you want to go.

As I mentioned before, Montreal is very much French. French in a good way: Everybody pleasantly speaks English, although, most of the road signs are in French.

French to English
est = East
ouest = West
nord = North
sud = South

Note that the city of Montreal has a wacky way of naming streets East and West, which doesn't match the compass!

Cost of gas in Canada is about twice the US price. Fill up your tank in the US near the border and you will save quite a few bucks. The price is per liter, 3.8 liters equals 1 gallon. Also, one gas station's big posted price is for the less expensive disel fuel, probably to bring in more customers (normally, price of regular gas, is posted big).

In terms of parking, most of the spots in the cities are metered, but it's possible to find some free parking spots. Canadian coins are needed for parking meters. There is some wort of big parking meter machine that seems to accept prepaid card or credit card. Parking meters, even the big machines, do not give change. Street parking in Ottawa was really expensive at Canadian 2.50 per hour, while In Montreal it's Canadian 1.50 per hour.

You don't need to exchange money in the US, because there is no need for Canadian currency before Montreal.

We did not came upon any toll stations between the US border at Vermont and Montreal, or between Montreal and Ottawa. There are some toll roads in Canada but we did not came upon any.

Using ATM machines in Canada is probably the easiest way to get money. The rate is close to the official exchange rate, before the ATM transaction fee (some banks have affilate ATMs with no fee). You can also go to Canadian post office, which has currency exchange rate that's slightly better than the one obtained in a US bank. I've been told that Candian banks will give you a good exchange rate.

Some merchants will take US dollars but not at a favorable exchange rate, so you want to get Canadian dollars.

In terms of credit cards, none of the places I went took Discover card. No problem with Visa and I assuming there will be no problem with MasterCard; not sure about AMEX.

Hyatt Regency Montreal
1255 Jeanne Mance St
Montreal, Quebec H5B 1E5
Excellent location. Walking distance to a few milongas. Would like to stay there again. Incredible prices if you know where to look. A few blocks to Chinatown, which may have restaurants that open until 3am.

Got the following through one of the travel comparison web sites. Whole place smells like stale cigarettes. Poor sound-proofing. Therefore, I would avoid this place: Hotel Quartier Latin Montreal, 17xx St Denis, Montreal, QC

Embassy Hotel and Suites
25 Cartier Street
Ottawa, ON K2p 1J2
The suite is huge. Includes kitchen with stove and full size fridge, huge living room, one and a half bath, and one big bedroom.

Montreal Tango Calendar in English and French. Lists regular events. Special events doesn't seem to be not listed.

Canada Tango Calendar: Contains tango dancing information on Montreal and other Canadian cities. Scroll down for other cities. It's in French. Go to "reguliers" for calendar of regularly-held tango events. See "Spéciaux" for special events. Lundi = Monday.

Lots of tango information, and some dancing info in English.

Summary of dancing in Montreal by other travelers. Some prices/ dance descriptions may be no longer accurate. For example, monday night is now $8.

Althought it looks like there are multiple events on the calendar, there is usually only one main event per night in Montreal.

At the three milongas I visited in Montreal, my observations are:

Tandas are mostly 5 songs, even milonga tandas. Vals tanda feels (didn't count) like 4 songs. There are no cortinas which is quite unusual to me. Music is good acoustical quality and songs selections are excellent. No scratchy music. Many DJs play from CDs (very few DJs in Montreal plays from computer, although that's changing).

Smoking was allowed in 2005. No smoking in the Montreal milongas as of 2006. Cash bar at all venues. Food/ snacks are generally not served (there was some crunchy food at one place). Venues have dozen+ little tables.

I was amazed by how many good dancers Montreal has. Most of them follow lanes, I didn't see anyone going against line of dance.

Since the level of dancing is excellent, I tried to use cabeceo but only worked with one follower. Perhaps they don't paractice it with strangers. Approaching dancers and asking to dance works better for me. Followers might ask leaders to dance. Cortinas are not followed by most dancers; many dancers dance mutliple tandas with each other.

Tango on Sunday
Lounge Eleven / Academie de Tango de Montreal
Walked on St. Laurent (Laurent street) between Rue Sherbrook and the milonga location. There was a lot of very happening places - restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and definitely a lot of pizzerias. There is even pizza sushi at one place. Feels like Montreal has as many pizzerias as cafes.
Arrived pretty late. Was pleasantly surprised that the milonga went to 3:30am, instead of the usual 1am, due to the national holiday on Monday. Nice music, all traditional, no Nuevo tango stuff.

There was one main room and a smaller room that are divided by columns. Good dancers stay in main room. Only a few couples, mostly less experienced dancers, dance in the smaller room that has dim lighting. Some less experience dancers dance through both rooms and like to bump into people standing next to the columns.

Tango on Monday
Al Sur
The location is on the corner of Jean Talon and St. Denis. People were leaving at 11 pm when we arrived. The milonga is 8:30 to 1:00 am but by midnight there were five dancers left. I've been told that people come early and leave early, due to the work day next day. This Monday people left even earlier due to too much dancing at the two speical late night events over this holiday weekend. More pugliese music and some faster music.

Tango on Tuesday
Tango Fabrika / Neo Milonga
Wasn't able to dance but many dancers recommended the Tuesday night's alternative milonga. Edit, fall of 2006: the Neo Milonga has high-level dancers and younger crowd. Tuesday neo-milonga is the best modern tango night in town.

Tango on Wednesday
Studio Tango
Arrived late again. Room was brighter than Sunday night (but not too bright). Dance density less dense than Sunday but it's a larger room. Pretty good crowd. More younger dancers than Sunday night. Most traditional music. There was alternative music tanda around midnight.

Didn't dance in Ottawa, but traveled in the city. Most of the major attractions are near the waterfront, within short walking distances. Tour of the Parliament is excellent. Wanted to stop by the National Art Museum but didn't have time.

Well I think that I covered everything I wanted to. Please, let me know if you find this mini guide useful. Have fun exploring Canada!

David Liu, Boston
Tango Lounge, 2nd Friday
Tango Paradiso, 1st Saturday
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