Monday, 11 August 2008

Tango al fresco

This is an annual event, on two dates in summer, and I only made it to the second and an hour of the first. So this post is only useful if you might go next year.

The class: There's a beginners' class before the dancing, I was too late for it but heard good things about it and met one person who seemed to have been inspired by the one in July.

Layout and atmosphere: A temporary dance floor, plus a DJ tent, in Broadwalk, Regent's Park. It's very, very beautiful. The weather adds excitement; and the wide-eyed audience of people just there to enjoy the park has its charm. Each time I've been, it's been very well attended and the small floor extremely crowded.

I think it bears repeating that the floor is small, and was very crowded - sometimes almost properly, 'milonguero' crowded, so that if you use no more than your fair share of space, you will have less than the length of your shins in leeway. <rant>Deleted.</rant>

Hospitality: Bring your own picnic and put down your rug to reserve a place on the grass. I just brought a box of strawberries from the farmers' market, and they were great. Open to the elements, on two dates in an English summer, so omit neither sun cream nor an adequate umbrella. If you wear proper dancing shoes, choose some you don't mind spoiling a little or which won't be too much harmed by surprise rain. There is a place to get tea, coffee, and ice cream a short distance away (continue down Broadwalk to where the road comes through, cross, and you're there). The ladies' loos are round the back of the coffee place, and are plentiful, working, and clean, if wonky. Don't know where the gents' is, you'd have to check the park map.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: there was a performance by Carlos Paredes and Diana Giraldo. They were delayed, and they danced as soon as the floor was dry enough after a sudden storm of rain. The style of this performance didn't happen to be my thing, but I applaud them for a spirited professional act under difficult conditions, with some very scary moments.

DJing: Traditonal plus a tanda or two of modern here and there, a few valses, a few milonga sets. Nothing eccentric or challenging that I remember. The crowded floor is more than enough for most people to deal with.

Getting in: £10 donation if you're dancing, profits to the Regent's Park tree-planting fund.

Getting there and getting home: A few minutes' walk from either Regent's Park or Great Portland Street stations. From Great Portland Street, that means cross the main (Euston) road at the crossing in front of the station, walk left (crossing at the pelican crossing) until you reach the street on your right with the big, open iron gates; follow it, and you will soon see trees, and you enter the park at one corner. Take the left hand path of three, and listen for the music. But the location within the park may change, and the park is huge, so check the website.

The website: clean, simple, does the job of what, when, where, how much.

How it went: Well. It rained twice - the first time heavily enough so they had to clear the floor, the second time lightly so people danced with umbrellas in the open-side hand. Which is lovely. I danced ok, apart from wrong-footing myself with a misjudged ornament in a milonga.

When I got home, I was greeted by a magnficent double rainbow. A lovely day.

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