Saturday, 4 October 2008

Negracha @ Wild Court

Negracha has changed quite noticeably since my original review, so here's an update. It's central, it's open late, and it's still to some degree where the hotshots go to be seen, though I noticed fewer teachers I knew than I have when I've been there before. It has two good-sized dance floors and a choice of music styles, and lots of very good dancers go there, and quite a few people go there to watch them.

The Class: I missed the class, but heard very good things about the beginners' class taught by Eleonora Simoes. I've generally heard good things about her, and here it was on the important point of telling people how to follow, often neglected.

Layout and Atmosphere: Improved. In the upstairs room, they have removed the bar along the far wall and installed a smaller, square one in the left hand corner. The annoying white-lit mirrors along that back wall have gone, and a black-and-white photograph of a street was projected there, to pleasing effect. The layout change means there is more room for tables and seating and it is not quite so mixed up with the dance floor. It's helped with the problem of bar staff walking through the dancers, and with the problems of sitting down and getting dances. On this occasion the platform at the window end was reserved for the band, so there were no reserved tables up there, but I think they still do that generally.

It was still crowded, which is fine if everyone or nearly everyone behaves well and understands the notion of floorcraft - as was the case at tango al fresco this year, for example. It is not so fine where most people are trying to dance in seven-league boots. Unless you are dancing late in the evening and with a very good lead, expect a lot of bumps and disturbance in the flow. I was dead impressed with my last one. No bumps at all. It's better than it has been, but it's still not the place to wear anything expensive on your legs.

Downstairs, a good sized square room with comfortable sofas, is also much improved. They now have a proper human DJ there playing new-tango music, and quite a few people - in particular some modern-jivers who I knew and had arranged to meet - have started going regularly as groups of friends. It's no longer six people, crap music, and a computer, and the sleazy feeling has gone. Of course people do un-social moves down there, and there's no real notion of the line of dance, but it's also not crowded so there aren't too many bumps. You can sit downstairs in comfort and dance or chat with friendly people. The instructional DVD playing silently on the projector is incongruous and bizarre, but sort of charming, and gives you something good to watch while you're resting.

Hospitality: Still dire. I was refused a glass of tap water at the bar, on the grounds that the tap was not working. Presumably they do not wash the glasses, then. I politely declined to buy bottled water at twice the usual price. I was charged £4.50 for a single gin and tonic with ice and lime, and £2.50 for a glass of orange juice, having already paid £12 to get in. Pleasant barman, though. There are still notices reminding you that bringing your own food or drink is strictly forbidden. The floor in the ladies' is thoroughly dirty, one of the cubicles has no lock, and the sanitary appliance apparently is so useless it requires an A4 notice of instructions. The paper is not installed, the hand dryer is disgustingly dirty and does not work, and there is no means of drying your hands except toilet paper which soon generates little soggy shreds all over the place. On this occasion I did not test the cold taps to see if, unlike last time, they worked; the hot ones were barely tepid. The (free) cloakroom behind the desk is a convenient place to leave your coat and kitbag, and to change your shoes, but on my return I found my coat lying on the floor, with its hanger still inside, covered in dust, along with a pile of other people's. [Update April 09: Someone seems to have given the place a bit of a wipe in the last couple of months - it all feels a lot cleaner than it was. This made a real difference to me, and even more to a friend who suffers from asthma. There's still no clean way of drying your hands, but the floor appears to have been scrubbed and then dried before being walked on. The taps all work properly now, with cold and hot water. Big improvement. Repairs still required.]

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: There was a band, who played some merengue, great if you know how to dance merengue, which some did, and a kind of jazz-tango fusion. I don't know what they were called and the website is offline so I can't look it up right now, but I felt they were a concert band rather than a dance band. Making Milonga Sentimental that difficult to dance to takes real dedication to your musical ideals.

What I thought of the DJing: Upstairs played quite a lot of things I like. Downstairs, which filled up while the band were on upstairs, is much nicer now that it has a real human DJ with actual discrimination.

Getting in: £12, the most expensive regular milonga as far as I know.

Getting there and getting home: Five minutes walk from Holborn. Come out of the left-hand exit at Holborn tube and cross the road in front of you to Sainsbury's. Walk past Boots and carry on, crossing a couple of minor roads, till you get to Wild Court on the same side. The entrance is on the right and you know when you're there because you can peer through the low square windows into the cloakroom. Last trains from Holborn are after midnight, at about the same time that upstairs gets good; however, there are lots of night buses from stops nearby every fifteen minutes or so. Check TFL for details, and it's on my Milonga Map.

The website: Is currently offline. Its river-on-black style - oh yes, I remember 1997 - mostly includes the information you require.

How it went: Better than it has before in terms of dances, perhaps mainly because I've been around longer and know more people, and they know me. I had a good evening, mostly downstairs, dancing and chatting with some people I knew via email, this blog, and some dance message boards, but hadn't met in person before. A bonus experience. I also got one dance upstairs, late, with a leader I looove dancing with (he does almost only the kind of stuff being taught in this vid*) but with whom I really feel my own faults. Not that he tells me - he seems quite satisfied as far as I can tell - but because I know the sort of connection I can get with him when I've had recent practice with the right people, and I know when my receiver is poorly tuned. I haven't had enough practice at that lately. Anyway, I noticed some things I should work on, and that I was making progress in getting rid of a little quirk that had been annoying me. Another bonus to take home.

* But with a lot less of the annoying Flying Teapot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went along that Friday as nowhere else was open. Similar to my previous "are you advanced enough" experience...

* Shall we dance?
- hmmm. But only one dance first and then I'll see.
* [silent]

later, after one dance...
- ok. One more.

sigh.... and this person is supposed to be some kind of example setter for her students....