Peñas are events that bring together longstanding traditions, homemade food, plenty of wine, a lively, friendly atmosphere and lots of folklore. These gatherings for folk music and dance offer a microcosm of Argentina’s regional traditions within the city itself.
1. The other Argentine music
Argentina is most famous for the tango and for several major local rock bands, but there’s also a whole host of folk rhythms originating in the northern provinces of the country, and this is what you’ll hear in the peñas. The most typical rhythms played in a peña are chacarera, zamba and gato, but there’s also malambo and much more. Some peñas throw in a bit of tango or rock nacional for good measure, making a visit a chance to tour the country in music.
2. Anyone can dance!
There are peñas that are more for listening to the music, where people will go to dine while enjoying performances from major or up-and-coming names on the scene – some also have open stages and anyone with an instrument is welcome to join in, and many will finish with a guitarreada where various musicians will play guitar as everyone sings along. But most peñas are also for dancing. A mix of live groups and recordings plays throughout the evening and everyone is welcome to squeeze on to the busy dancefloor, whether you know the steps or not! Just copy what the couple next to you is doing!
3. You can discover traditional dishes
Peñas often serve traditional homemade regional food from empanadas, which come in various styles depending on the province, locro, a hearty stew made from meat, corn and squash, and humita (parcels of corn dough wrapped in husks), and of course, barbecued meat. All this needs to be washed down with beer or wine!
4. They go on late and are great places to meet locals
Like much of the nightlife in Buenos Aires, peñas tend to go on late with shows starting at around 10pm, so be prepared to stay out – and be prepared to make friends. Peñas have a friendly atmosphere and are usually packed with a mixture of local neighbours and people from all over Argentina, so try out a mixture of Spanish and English and make new friends. You´ll most likely meet someone who will be happy to teach you the choreography of the dances, delighted at the chance to spread this Argentine passion for traditional music and dance.