Thursday, 10 June 2010

Avalon

From 9 till midnight on Monday evenings at Avalon, Shoreditch High Street. [Update: I have a really nice time there, and they promptly go for a summer break. I'd say check tango-uk for announcements but actually it seems you need to sign up to the Tango@33 mailing list to know whether it's on or not, and you have to check your mail again an hour before it's supposed to start.]


The Class: The organisers, Alex and Silvia, offer a basic beginners and improvers' class from 7:30 to 9:00. From what I read before on the tangoat33 website, they start beginners off in close embrace straight away, and as far as I know they are the only people in London who attempt this.

Layout and Atmosphere: Unobtrusive from the outside, you come in and and it's all red and black and silver, very new-looking. There's a cloakroom and there may or may not be someone at the desk; anyway you can collect your thoughts and remove your rain gear before walking past the screen into the bar. Comfy red and silver sofas and chairs and square squashy seats. The bar is on the left and the dancefloor on the right. There is also a downstairs, but it's being knocked out and rebuilt at the moment. To me it felt glamorous and cosy.

The floor is small, rectangular, and more or less a seperate room from the seating area, with an opening in the wall between. The DJ has a large booth facing the opening. If there were more people the layout would be awkward, but at the moment it doesn't matter at all, especially since they play cortinas. The floor, however, is very dark, except for wild spinning flying-insect brightly-coloured nightclub lights. About which it's probably not possible to do much. Not really a problem for me, as the seating area is well lit and they play tandas and  cortinas, so there's no problem finding a partner, and I can dance with my eyes shut. But if you lead and you have any tendency to motion sickness, or suffer from epilepsy, you might want to bring pills. The flying light-midges - well, some people like them. They are very pretty, and an upside is that they don't encourage you to dance for the look of the thing, as nobody can see you, but they make me feel a bit strange. I think the lighting machine can do all kinds of patterns so it might be completely different when you go. Little zigzags, squares, or butterflies or something. Anyway, consider not wearing black.

The sound was good, not over-loud, and the surface gave me no problems.

Hospitality: Good. It feels like what it is (so far), which is a small group of friends starting their own milonga in a venue they like, and they know me so I could hardly fail to feel welcome. The loos are clean and dry, smart-looking and quite roomy, with a 3/4 length mirror. You could easily fix your hair, makeup and outfit in there. They have glamorous giant pin-up pictures on the wall. I ordered a single G&T as it was a weeknight and it was £2.65. I felt like a cheapskate for ordering a single and that's probably why I forgot to ask for water. It's a bar and it's free to get in for now. They do cocktails, too, of course.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: Just social dancing. I had a peek downstairs at the rebuilding, though, and that looks quite interesting.

What I thought of the DJing: Almost all traditional, with nice music, no show tunes or showing-off tunes, and one tanda of alternative just before I left - beautiful lyrical danceable music, no moron-beats. Short pop cortinas, long enough for the small floor. Sylvia mostly DJ'd, I think, Alex took over for the alternative tanda, but it seems to be a joint effort.

Getting in: Currently free. It's a small nightclub so obviously it's polite to order a drink or two. I don't think there was anyone there, apart from staff, who wasn't there to dance, which was nice. I'm not crazy about having a baffled audience.

Getting there and getting home: I walked from Liverpool Street station; come out of the Bishopsgate exit, turn left and walk along the same side of the road, without turning, until you get there. It took me exactly twelve minutes at the first attempt, I walk faster than average. You will pass a large wine place, and go under a bridge. It's a bit after the Crowne Plaza on the other side of the road. I left by about half past eleven but if you want to stay till midnight, you can probably still get the tube; otherwise there are many, many buses from Liverpool Street and from the roads right outside.

The website: It hasn't got one yet. Announcements on Tango-UK. The venue's is Avalon-London.

How it went: I had honest-to-goodness heart-to-heart dances inside the music. No bumps - I don't think there were ever more than three couples on the floor, and all of them were competent social dancers. The floor is small enough that it doesn't feel empty even if you're just one couple, it just felt intimate and relaxed (although on the other occasion I went there it was remarkable how the sudden appearance of just one notoriously awful leader changed my stress level - that's the trouble with small milongas).  There weren't many people there but they were lovely. In fact I had such a nice evening that I was seriously tempted to just shut up about it and keep it to myself. But that would be selfish.

1 comment:

Chris, UK said...

This event seems to have ceased. The venue page http://www.avalon-london.com/listings.pdf does not list it for July and the last announcement of it on Tango-UK was for June.