Sunday, 24 February 2008

dancetango @ The Crypt

*** UPDATE (Spring 2013) - Now closed. ***

When and Where
There are two milongas at the Crypt. There's a milonga at the Crypt in Farringdon every Saturday, but the organisers alternate - Nikki and friends of one week, and Paul and Michiko of El Once the next. You can check the schedule on either website; last night it was dancetango and that's the one I'm talking about here, although the space is the same of course. Nikki also helps organise other events around London, look at or check the tango-uk mailing list for details. [Update 14th Aug: added search terms to tango-uk link.] Either way, there's an absolute beginners' class at 7:30, followed by an intermediate class, and then social dancing from about 21:30 till around half past twelve.

The Class
I skipped the class. Most of the intermediate classes on dancetango's nights are given by guest teachers, so it's a good place to go regularly if you want to vary your ideas; check the schedule, but also check the El Once schedule for the alternate weeks. Last night's was Jill Barrett on vals and a little cha-cha ornament for leader and follower.

Layout and atmosphere
I've been there many times and the atmosphere is always welcoming and friendly. I've seen Nikki take particular care of strangers, such as a couple of ladies from Edinburgh who wanted to know the local customs about who asks who to dance (yes, ladies can ask, and yes, they can dance together, of course). It's a rather beautiful brick-built space, with two doors to the outside, and windows high in the walls. The windows open with a long pole like they used to have at my school, and there is a door that opens to the outside so you can cool off if you need to. Presumably it is or was once the crypt of the church above, but I've never seen any dead christians wandering around. The room is large, and is gently divided by the layout of tables into 2/3 dancefloor and 1/3 seating; there's quite a long smooth slope to the floor, which I never notice, but some people do. I like the way Nikki and her assistants lay out the tables. I think it works well, it's easy to circulate, sit down, and get a dance, or rest. There are rails and plenty of hangers to put your coat on. A projector in a curious cage thing high on the back wall makes pictures on the other wall, and I often get distracted by the interesting shadows. Nikki uses lots of coloured lights, and even has a smoke machine, which makes a dreamy atmosphere, but a very surprising farting noise.

HospitalityVery good. As much water from the jug as you need. Tea, coffee, cakes, soft drinks and bottled water from the cool box, are all very cheap. The wine is free. The loos are what you'd expect from a church hall - cramped and a little eccentric, but clean, dry, and working.

What I thought of the DJingNikki is very fond of milongas, which she has been known to play four in a row right next to the salsa interlude. It can be a little chaotic but the general style is classic, nothing adventurous or unusual. Good if you don't like cortinas but just want to keep dancing to whatever comes along.

Getting in
£8.50 or sometime £10.00 or a little more if there is a guest teacher; check the website.

Getting there and getting home
Out of Farringdon station, turn left and immediately left again, walk all the way along the street with the wall, and cross the main road at the crossing to your right at the end, outside the busy nightclub. Opposite you and slightly to the right is the entrance to Clerkenwell Green, and once you there look up to see the spire of the church just off the square on the other side, with the clock on it. Go there and go in by the left hand gate, up four steps. The entrance is down the stairs. Or take a 55 bus to Clerkenwell Green. Lasts trains from Farringdon are at about half past midnight, and here is the local Night Bus Map.

The website
Recently tarted up. Simple, with the information you need. Image-driven, you need to switch them on. No noises. Click "Go To Map" for the location.

How it went
Rather well, last night. It was a bit thin - quite possibly a lot of people had done as I nearly did, and stayed at home to watch England v France in the 6 Nations - but I had some really good dances including some with regular partners, one with a talented beginner who I'll certainly dance with again, and one with someone I'd seen before, but not danced with, and hope to dance with many more times. We kept looking at each other with silly smiles between tracks. At the end of that it was close to my usual time for leaving, and I decided that was the dance I wanted to take home with me, so I went. There's always a good mix of levels and it is friendly to the inexperienced.

1 comment:

Psyche said...

Hm, the new website does look better.

I like the Crypt. Nikki is by far the friendliest host in the London scene. I love the little tealights in the hallways, and the tea and cakes. The floor's a little slippery sometimes, but there's usually some resin or something in the corner. And she always plays Poema, so I'm happy! The crowd is a little older than most places I go - more Welsh Centre than Dome, if you like - and the atmosphere is corresponingly more civilised!