La Nacional, the Spanish National Home, is a hidden gem located in the heart of the chaos of 14th Street. Go there on the right night, and you’re in for a treat: The first floor is a traditional Spanish restaurant where the televisions are always tuned to Spanish news or soccer, and you can order good tapas and sangria (we think the clocks are sometimes set on Spanish time as well). But walk up the back stairs on Thursdays, and you’ll encounter a crowded dance floor full of women in high-heeled shoes and slinky dresses and men in suits. Tango favorites like “La Cumparsita” by Uruguayan composer Gerardo Matos Rodríguez are playing the background. There are many amateurs, but this is also a hangout for the people who really know what they’re doing. On some nights, people clear the floor for the very best dancers, some of whom are breathtakingly good—and if you’ve ever tried dancing tango, you’ll know how impressive their skills really are.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009