Thursday, 11 September 2008

Dance Underground, Seattle

Ok, as you know by now, I was on holiday in Seattle. I asked for directions in this post, exchanged a few emails, and went for a dance. I wasn't paying as much attention to details as I do when I'm thinking about writing a review, so this is a bit thin, but it would be a shame not to.

The Class:
I don't think there was one.
Layout and Atmosphere: You go in down red stairs and it's a rather large near-square room, with a very good, smooth floor and mirrors along the near and right-hand sides. The DJ is in a sort of doorless cupboard, snacks, drinks and water at the far left hand corner, I didn't observe what drinks. There's nowhere to go away from the floor but there are quite a few round tables with cloths along the right hand side, and chairs on the other side. There are red curtains and strings of white LEDs and the atmosphere is simple but warm, cheery and not too dark.
Hospitality: Good. A table with refreshments and plenty of free water. I didn't give it enough attention but there were smiles beside it and in the general vicinity. Enough chairs for most to sit down, but not all; enough tables that it's possible to sit in a position that suggests you are resting, which is the best you can do in a room like this. Sorry, I knew my time there would be short, and I didn't get round to checking the loos as I usually do. I would have if I'd noticed that the venue website says they're a "feature ... equipped with showers". (Elizabeth - fill us in!). I was startled when the lady who did the announcements, in a pause, thought it worth mentioning that someone was here from London and pointing me out. It surprised me, but made me feel special.
What I thought of the DJing: perfectly standard, not many milongas and valses but some, nothing electronic or with a big beat that I remember, and nothing that wasn't tango music. My friends, who don't know tango music, loved it. They were cortinas, they varied, I don't remember what they were but they weren't annoying or wierd.
Getting in: US$7, my non-dancing friends got in free.
Getting there and getting home: This is the USA, they don't really do public transport (although Seattle does have a reasonable network of buses and it may well be possible to use one of those - don't know how you'd find out, it's not mentioned in the directions). As I wasn't the one driving, I can't say anything useful except that we parked in the street a few steps from the door. It's underneath a bagel place, and there is a sign with Dance Underground on it; walk downstairs towards the music.
The website: Includes the links you need on the front page, looks fine, tells you who they are, what's on, when, and how much it costs. The milonga page is here but you can get there in one click from the front page (very good). The scene in Seattle is also small enough so it's feasible for someone to publish combined listings at The venue also has its own website, which you'll need for directions.
How it went: Very well indeed, especially considering the rather awkward situation of having brought two friends who don't dance - V and her husband P. We got in, I asked which was the Party Table (following Elizabeth's directions) and the lady on the desk did indeed know what that meant. It being clear to me that the party had not started, I settled us down at the next one, swapping places with my friend who accidentally sat in front of a rather fearsome airconditioner I was glad of later on. I quietly changed my shoes and watched for a while, chatting, V guessing which ones I would want to dance with and getting it largely correct. We agreed that Orange Shirt Guy (hi!) moved very well, and could be accepted with confidence, and then we discussed the difficulty or otherwise of assessing some of the others, and how very, very foolish teacher-advertisement show-tango looks on a social dance floor. Quite soon, Elizabeth arrived and knew me from my description at once. She and Alan and their friends were very hospitable and it really helped so much with the difficulty of having to abandon my friends if I wished to dance. She instantly introduced me to Orange Shirt Guy, who was just as I had hoped (hi!), and my friends to Alan, who is a Very Nice Man and dances very like the person I was talking to here - who is also, as it happens, another Very Nice Man, and also much the same height and shape. I danced with at least two regular readers, one of whom also knits. I can't thank all of them enough for looking after us all. P said it was "like watching a foreign movie", which is almost certainly a good thing, or at least an interesting thing, and absolutely loved the music. V was quite interested to watch the dancing and how people moved and how I interacted with the different leaders. We had to leave relatively early, but not as early as I thought we would. I had some excellent dances, and left when I was winning. A good night.


Elizabeth Brinton said...

Hello Mshedghog. Your review describes Dance Underground very accuratly. We loved having you there. Too bad you couldn't go to some of our othere varied venues. We have the whole mix going on. Anyway, it was a tiny bit of a slow night.
The restrooms are nice because there is a bench for changing shoes, and it sometimes becomes a little social center during the night when women want to retreat. There is a shower. I think a person could come from work and shower and change, although I've never noted this. There is a full length mirror, and the restroom is kept clean and well stocked.

For buses people could go to the Seattle Metro website We ought to encourage it more! I do see that people are sharing rides a lot now. Portland is much better with the transit, and most milongas there have transit info on the website. Great having you here, and your friends who were good sports all around.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from the party corner!

Hi! I'm flattered with what you said about me. I do have to admit, that the honor was mine. To have danced with one such as yourself was a gift.

When you come back, we'll keep a seat for you at our little corner.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you made it back safe and sound. Also glad to have had the extreme pleasure of dancing with during a milonga tanda. My only regret is not being able to more fully avail myself of the opportunity. Maybe we can transport the 'party corner' to London for a field trip. In any case,"y'all come back now, real soon!!"

Anonymous said...

I'm glad my Seattle peeps took good care of you and that you enjoyed it there! It's things like this that make me miss Seattle.

I might have Cachirulo at my fingertips, but sometimes I just want to be at the Party Table at Dance Underground with my friends.

msHedgehog said...

I really wish I had checked the restrooms now! Somewhere to retreat, and facilities to get clean and changed, are very high on my wish-list for my imaginary ideal venue. I don't know of any milonga here that has that - it would have to be in a dedicated dance gym, like DU, and there generally just isn't space for anything unnecessary in any London venue that a tango outfit could afford. Clean, working, and well-supplied loos is the most you can hope for.