Friday, 8 May 2009

Matrix Tango @ Southgate Club

This is on Wednesdays, social dancing from 21:00 to 23:00 at the Southgate Club, Southgate, N14. They also do a monthly tea dance on Sundays, check the website for details.

The Class: There is an intermediate class, taught by Paul Bottomer, at 20:00 followed by a 'tango basics' class at 20:30; I skipped both but I like the approach of putting them in that order.

Layout and Atmosphere: Roomy and relaxed. It is a large room with comfortable, thoroughly clean, well-upholstered and new-looking hotel-style sofas and chairs around two sides, with little polished tables. There's a stage at one end with a DJ booth in the far corner, and a bar along most of one wall. The dance floor, in front of the stage, is relatively small in relation to the room, but it was never crowded. There are some mirrors here and there but not enough to be annoying. It's not dark, but the lighting's nice and has a bit of colour and shine on the floor. A good-sized, conference-centre kind of room in very good repair. Paul and the lady at the desk and everyone else were very cheerful; I felt that Paul took particular care, without being intrusive, to make sure that everyone including absolute beginners had a chance to dance. He gave impromptu absolute-beginner lessons to a couple of curious salseras who hadn't done tango before. One of them got on the dance floor and got along fine.

Hospitality: Good. My gin and tonic with lemon was £3.50 and I was served a pint glass of tap water on request for no extra charge. No food. The loos are spacious, well-built, well-lit, properly supplied, and clean, with fresh flowers. No cloakroom or rail but plenty of space to leave your stuff on chairs or sofas and it will be perfectly clean and OK.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: You can buy Comme Il Faut shoes there from the Coleccion la Recoleta lady. I don't require a pair of shoes at the moment, but when I bought a pair last year at the Adelaide, she could take cards.

What I thought of the DJing: Different. Mostly traditional stuff, maybe 70%, but also some non-tango tracks you could dance tango to. I enjoyed a bluesey one, and I quite like dancing stuff that makes me think "what IS this?" with men who like it. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but I'm curious. Paul also played a couple of salsa tracks and one of jive, perhaps because there were several beginners at tango there who could dance to these confidently. Although my jive and salsa are both pretty clueless, I enjoyed that too. No cortinas, and I can see why - there isn't much time, and the music changes radically enough, often enough, to clear the floor and refresh your ear without the need. There weren't always predictable tandas, either. Some people followed the convention of three dances anyway, and that's what I do in these situations, but it didn't seem to be general.

Getting in: £9, which I think includes two classes if you turn up early enough. Not sure if it's regularly less for the social dancing alone - I was given a free entry voucher for my second visit because I happened to arrive very late on my first. So it worked out at £4.50 and I'm not quite sure what the price is.

Getting there and getting home: Careful, it's in Zone 4. It is practically next door to Southgate tube station, on the Piccadilly line. When you come up the escalator, take the left-hand exit, which is marked "buses". In front of you and a little to your left is a short, wide tunnel, more like a thick arch, with a big clock over it. Walk through it and turn right; the Southgate club is the second building along. The first one looks like a mausoleum but might be some sort of restaurant or something. You'll hear the music faintly as you push the door.

The website: A professional-looking and well-functioning, unpretentious job, has the wit to link to Streetmap, but I can't find the entry fee. Includes some interesting things to read, takes extra thought and trouble to be helpful to beginners.

How it went: Very well. There were lots of beginners (especially at the start) and a few much more experienced dancers. They were well mixed up. Being very willing to dance with both, I had as many dances as I wanted, but I also enjoyed the music and the watching, and the spacious seating meant I could sit down as much as I liked, too. I like the roomy seating; I'd rather have a smallish floor and more space to sit and chat, than the other way around. It just makes it easier for me to be in control of my evening. I also found it easy to strike up conversations. The location and the early finish make it feasible for me on a weekday, which the Dome (longer, bigger, more choice of partners, but late and awkwardly located for me) isn't. I also quite liked the different music and the slightly different crowd. You have to make your choice according to what you want. Probably a good, un-scary place for the recent beginner to explore, and a very easygoing choice for a weekday if the location is convenient for you.


Anonymous said...

Nice review. I have linked you. I am always happy to hear of people having a lovely evening.

msHedgehog said...

Ta, luv. I have a couple more of the less-popular places in my queue that I'll try and get round to in time.

David Bailey said...

Oooh, I know Dancematrix :)

"Shoe woman" is the lovely Angie; she's got a great selection, and they do occasional "tea dances" on Sundays, usually each month, to showcase the new CiFs.

Their teaching structure is the same for all dance styles - Paul also does ballroom. I like their class management and rotation practice, although I think the classes are too short at 30 mins each.