Thursday, 20 December 2007

The Dome

As I'm on holiday and didn't have to get up this morning, I went to the Dome last night.

The class: I skipped the class. It was on musicality, given by Damian Lobato. He and Kicca are the regular teachers there, and I've taken one class with them before, but it was a long time ago and all I remember is that she's really sharp and takes the trouble to give detailed advice to the followers.

What I thought of the DJing: Perfectly standard. It was in sets, and not chaotic. No cortinas. Lots of good tunes, all of it made me want to dance more than not, nothing electronic or unusual, a few of my favourites, quite a lot of milongas, no wierd or disturbing juxtapositions. I don't remember there being a single vals, curiously. The DJ, according to the website, was Jorge Vacca.

Layout and atmosphere: Some of the seats are a bit dangerous as there's no boundary to the dance floor, but there are quite a few places where you can stand or sit down safely, there are two exits from the floor area, and it's not too difficult to move about. The raised platform, where I think they usually put tables, gives you a great view. The bar is separated from the dance floor by a low wall with openings. Everyone was pleasant and cheerful, including the bar staff. The only problem last night was the total absence of anywhere to hang your coat: everything went in an enormous pile, like a giant bedroom at a house party. Retrieving my stuff in the darkness was a challenge. Maybe this is usually better and it was just because of the crowd and the party food and whatnot.

Hospitality: Good. On this occasion it was the Christmas Party so there was lots of free food, which is a very friendly gesture. I'd already had my dinner so didn't have any myself. No water except at the bar, but the bar prices are not outrageous, I didn't notice anything explicitly forbidding you to bring your own, and all the taps work. [Edit: Anonymous in the Comments tells me there is free water in plastic glasses at the bar: they don't make this apparent, but now that I know it raises the 'hospitality' rating from OK to Good.]

Floorcraft: I had surprisingly few bumps considering the very dense crowd. They were mere touches, and neither my feet nor my hosiery were in serious danger. I think good dancers, and dancers who at least give a high priority to not kicking anyone, were a high proportion of the total, so that the hazards and the crowd didn't cause too many problems. I don't know if this was representative, it could have been just the result of who was there to see the performance. [Edit: it seems to be representative, see Comments]

Dances: I saw a lot of faces I knew but I also got some good ones with leads I hadn't danced with before, or not more than once. There were lots of good people to choose from and the layout makes it easy to watch and find people. Then it tailed off as it got more crowded. I'm sure it would have gone well if I'd been able to stay later, but I'm not fond of the night bus thing.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: There was a performance by Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne. They were magic. They're very playful - in particular they play around with the embrace, and when you watch them you feel that they always have a connection, but sometimes it's just with the eyes or even the feet. Their feet are magic too. It's spectacular to watch, but it doesn't feel at all contrived or stagey - it feels like the real thing. Very compelling. They're on tour, and they'll be at the Welsh Centre this Friday and at the Crypt on Saturday (always close your eyes for the first 3 seconds looking at that website, till the animations have finished whooshing). I know at least one person who videoed it all but I don't know what he's going to do with it yet.

Getting there and getting home: It is just round the corner from Tuffnell Park on the Northern Line. Walk down the left hand side of the pub and look for the "Dome" sign. Last train from Tufnell Park to Euston is at 00:13. There are buses 4 (last one around 23:55), plus the N20, 134, and 390 which are all 24-hours and will take you to interchanges such as Camden Town, Warren Street, and Trafalgar Square where you can probably find another bus home.

Admission: Wednesday nights, normally £6 or £9 with class, this night £10 because of the performance. Open till 2am.

Website: Neither pretty nor consistent, with particularly bad navigation from the home page, but generally does the job, and does include all the information you need somewhere, including pictures of the cast, which is something most people don't do. The Special Events page does not get updated - unless Gustavo and Giselle are not a 'Special Event' - but the Monthly Programme (which is hidden a level below "Milonga") does. The Location page is correct and helpful and includes map and buses. Style about 1997, with intermittent frames.

I had a good time and would definitely go again, if I could do so without struggling at work the next day. However, I'd probably take a big, brightly coloured kitbag because of the fact that there's nowhere to hang your stuff. I was glad I'd tied it all together with my scarf and put my gloves in my shoe bag, or I'd never have been able to turn myself back into a sufficiently hairy caterpillar for the below-freezing wait at the bus stop.


Psyche said...


I'm at the Dome quite a lot. The floor's always good, in my experience, few collisions. It was a bit crazier than usual last night because there were so many people there, what with the party and the extra special guests (dear god, they're amazing). I thought the dj was good, too. (There were some vals tandas, incidentally, and later on there was a little electronico, but in moderation. There was also salsa twice, which I'm never happy about, but that's life. Actually, one was a salsa version of Milonga Sentimental, which was interesting.)

There's never any special provision for coats, although I think some people stash theirs in a little room off to the side of the entrance (which I believe does function as a coat room when there are gigs there). I just dump mine on the back of a chair or under a table.

You can get free water from the bar, which is great. They'll fill a bottle for you, or give you a plastic glass. A big plus, imo.

Anonymous said...

I think its great that you're doing reviews .. particularly of places I've never been to (the Dome). It might also help improve some of the milongas if the organisers know they'll be reviewed.

Have you been to The Tango Club? Its more central than any other milonga I know of - paces from Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Charing Cross, and its a lovely space, clean too, free tap water, and even teas, coffees, soup and bread .. yet its never busy enough on a Friday and I don't know why - maybe a review may uncover the reason.

msHedgehog said...

Psyche: I must have been in the loos when the vals set was on, or it was after I left. Or perhaps I just wasn't paying attention.

Anonymous: Oh, I didn't know about that one. Nice location. Decent website. It might be because there's a lot of competition on Fridays. Gustavo and Giselle are the the Welsh Centre tonight, and so are some people I want to speak to - otherwise I'd go and try it. It starts very late though, although the class looks interesting, so I'm definitely stuck with the bus home. I'll try and get there in the next few weeks. And I'll do an edit about the water, because that raises the hospitality from "OK" to "Good".

msHedgehog said...

Actually, I take back what I said about the Tango Club's website. It looks ok, but just try and find out what their schedule is for the new year, or even whether they're actually open today or not. The "Calendar" page gives a "403 Forbidden" error, of all things. Pity - the events look really nice. But there's nothing on the website to even convince me that they've been in business at any time since October.

koolricky said...

I have heard a lot of good things about The Dome. Sadly enough, I have never had the chance to go. Thanks for the review, I'll make sure I do something about my coat!

AJ said...

About The Dome, it is interesting that the floorcraft at The Dome is much better than at Negracha even though both get very crowded at times. I suppose Friday night brings a certain type of person out? The Wednesday night dancer is perhaps more serious / dedicated.

AJ said...

About The Tango Club

I went there twice - I think it was around April 2006 - once for the Thursday class and once for the Friday class + milonga.

I agree that it is a nice little room, but that's where the praise stops!

I thought the teaching was not very good, the quality of the dancing was generally poor (probably because of the poor teaching).

The music was very self indulgent (from the DJs point of view) with no consideration to the enjoyment of thee dancers.

I remember Liz (the organiser) announcing that the music was going to be chronological i.e. it started with the 1920s then 1930s etc. - so that meant at some point we moved on to nuevo music (which I sometimes like) but it was ridiculous that all we would get was nuevo for the rest of the evening - even if no-one was dancing!

I never went back! Why should I when I can go to The Welsh or Negracha or both.