Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Tangology @ Wild Court

[Important update 31st August 2009: This milonga is changing its venue to Sway bar, I haven't been there yet. Oct/09 I have now.]

This is a Sunday evening milonga with a class beforehand and the occasional special event. The venue is Wild Court, the same as for Negracha. I hadn't been to it before; I went because people I know and like to dance with recommend it. It starts at eight and ends at midnight, with classes from 6:30.

The Class: I did not take the class but I've heard good things about Eleonora's beginners' class and I saw some who seemed to have taken it and to be charmed with the basic idea.

Layout and Atmosphere: It's at Wild Court, the same venue as Negracha (see review on right), but the atmosphere is different. They only have the upstairs room, which is sort of like a school assembly or exam hall, and I think it belongs to some kind of college. The money table is squeezed in between the main room and the Ladies, and you're already in the nice lighting and warm feel by the time you get there. There's a pretty smiling lady behind the desk, and some interesting leaflets about other events. The doorway into the main room is prettied up with transparent drapery and fairly lights, which does make the going in feel like a pleasant event. Coloured spotlights heated up the room, but the tall windows along the side were opened to compensate, and it cooled with the warm Spring evening. There are high windows at one end and a bar at the other which I hadn't realised was temporary until it suddenly dematerialised at midnight. At the bar end, early Popeye and Wile-E-Coyote were projected on the wall. A partner said he loved this; I felt sorry for the poor hungry coyote. At the window end is a very high two-layered platform. The sense of division between those on the platform and those down below is softened by having some tables along the floor at the foot of the platform, with the same cheery floral tablecloths as the ones above. I sat at one of these towards the end of the evening. In fact I don't think the division is real; the tables up there don't seem to be reserved. But I was reluctant to take one, and took a seat along the wall instead. There were plenty of tables and seats in proportion to the numbers who turned up. I could have taken a table for myself.

Hospitality: I don't think I can honestly say that it's better in any specific respect than it is on Fridays ("still dire"), but the different table arrangements and relaxed atmosphere, the absence of crowd, not being kicked, and the fact that the place seems to have been partially cleaned in the last few months, did make me less annoyed about high drinks prices and horrible loos. [I've updated my Negracha review to say it's cleaner. Good work to whoever made that happen]. The cloakroom isn't available on Sundays, so next time I'll take a bigger kitbag to keep my coat out of the dust. But my things were perfectly safe on a chair. No water or refreshments are included, and signs say your own food or drink is forbidden. The drinks were the same as on Fridays - £1.50 for a bottle of still water, £4.50 for a single G&T. But the taps were working this time, with hot and cold water. So if you ran out of money after the £10 entry, you wouldn't come to actual harm. I didn't ask for a glass of tap water with my glass of wine; forgot. There's no means of drying your hands in the Ladies except toilet paper, and one of three was blocked by the time I arrived. Briefly wondering how the sanitary appliance could be so badly built that detailed instructions have to be posted on the doors, I realised that the instructions were still there but the object itself was, in fact, absent. Those are all venue things, obviously, but I'm whingeing anyway because I think they matter. Adds up to Poor, for an otherwise nice, relaxed milonga.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: Nothing, thank goodness. Such a mercy. Although the platform is very good for people-watching, whether up or down. If you are feeling emotional, delusional, or under pressure, or you have any slight inclination to make a spectacle of yourself, you might consider not sitting up there unless you really, really want to.

What I thought of the DJing: I enjoyed it, it was all right. All traditional, tuneful stuff, reasonable numbers of milongas and vals tandas. There were cortinas, but I think the tandas varied in length. The sound was good and even all over the room, as far as I could tell.

Getting in: £10, more than I expected.

Getting there and getting home: It's a short walk from Holborn, under 10 minutes, and it ends at midnight. But the problem is, it's Sunday and the last trains are earlier than that. I was going to leave at eleven, but a friend kindly gave me a lift home.

The website:, much nicer looking than most, it tells you where it is, and when, and gives you a link to the latest announcement so you can see if there's going to be a performance. I don't think it says how much it is to get in. I had a vague impression that the music would be less traditional than it was; but that might have been just the legwarmers.

How it went: I arrived rather early and there were only two or three couples on the floor. It went well, though. I sat enjoying the music for a while and then was asked to dance when people changed partners. I think it would actually be quite an OK and relaxed place for the patient, prepared beginner to get some dances. At the peak - elevenish - there were 15 couples on the good-sized floor. Plenty of room for everyone. It was Sunday evening, and I danced a lot with friends. There was some really nice dancing. The milonga is nice. I'd go again. The room is nice, and the atmosphere was pleasant. The building's an expensive dump and needs some repairs.

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