Thursday, 29 October 2009


Time I updated this one. I never normally go to Corrientes because the location is awkward for me, but my previous review is based on a festival and doesn't do it justice. It's at Chalk Farm, two Saturdays in the month.

The Class:
I skipped it. Usually Mina and Giraldo, sometimes guest teachers. On this occasion it was Adrian and Amanda Costa, who are great, but I was busy elsewhere.

Layout and Atmosphere: It's inside a large, modern, well-equipped school. You go in past all the usual notices about reporting to reception and buzzing to be let in. The table where you pay is visible from the door. After paying, follow the corridor to your right for the dance hall entrance.

The floor is enormous and excellent. There are small tables and chairs around three sides of the floor, and on this occasion there was enough seating and there was a reasonably effective division between seating and dance floor. The fourth side of the floor, on your left as you go in, is occupied by a curtained stage across the whole width of the room, which is opened up for dancing for special events only. The DJ has a table at the far left hand side, and when there's a band that's where they go. The refreshments are in the near right hand corner.

I walked in and stood at the entrance for some time, looking around and wondering where to put my coat. Giraldo, who doesn't know me from a bar of soap as far as I'm aware, approached me in a serious, proprietorial manner that seemed only faintly ludicrous in one so young, airkissed me on both cheeks and pointed out some free chairs in the far corner. It was nice of him, I felt welcomed.

The lighting is rather uneven, with a lot of light on the floor and some very dark areas in parts of the seating, especially against the right-hand wall. The temperature is also uneven, hot under the lights and chilly near the fans. I was glad I had a shawl with me for warmth; it was also dark coloured, and by wrapping myself in it and sitting in my dark spot in the corner I could practically disappear, which I actually rather like to have as an option.

The atmosphere was quite nice considering that it's a giant box which looks like a school, and smells like a school. The lighting and arrangement of tables were reasonably good and the person at the desk was mildly welcoming, Giraldo more so. People generally seemed to be having fun. I think it mostly comes from who turns up.

Hospitality: OK. Nothing is included in the price, but bottled water is a routine £1, and the taps work so if you ran out of money getting in, you wouldn't come to actual harm. And nobody tries to stop you bringing in your own, as far as I know. Bottled water, glasses of wine around the £2/£3 mark, and I think other soft drinks are served from a table in the corner. No food. There are some shelves for your things at either end of the back wall, but if there isn't enough space on those you'll have to put them on a chair, as I did. They were fine. The loos are what you'd expect from a school, a bit rickety but clean and just about equipped and working. To find them, continue along the corridor past the entrance to the hall. The door marked Ladies leads to a baffling anteroom with several unlabelled or oddly-labelled doors, all looking just like the inside of the one you just came through; one of them is in fact the Ladies, but I don't remember which. I think there are also showers and changing rooms but I didn't manage to work it out.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: It was a normal night, very nice. Except that Adrian and Amanda were there and I really like watching them dance socially out of the corner of my eye - they also do a very cute salsa.

What I thought of the DJing: I thought it was better than average until they had some problems with the sound system, and then changed DJs, after which it was average and carried on with the same sort of thing till 2am rather than changing with the evening. The sound quality is very good all over the very large room, as you'd expect from a room of this kind.

Getting in: I think it was £9 (I've left it too long and forgot to take notes, but the website says that this weekend is £10, or £9 after 10pm, which agrees with what I remember). I was expecting a performance and so were a few other people who went, but there wasn't one.

Getting there and getting home: It is two minutes walk from Chalk Farm tube. Left out of the exit, left again, cross the road and enter the building made of giant orange and green rectangles. The problem is that it doesn't really get going until after the last Tube you could possibly use to get home, and the location isn't that central. You can get an N50 night bus to Euston outside the door, and you can wait at Euston for another night bus to get home. Consult TFL for night bus routes. I stayed to the end, and getting home took me over an hour and a half, taking a taxi for the bit to Euston. It isn't really worth it to me unless I can get a lift with someone going my way; if you were driving it wouldn't be a problem.

The website: Pretty. Lots of flash. Ignore that, click "what's on" and keep scrolling down till you find the When/What/How Much bit. It's usually open on two Saturdays a month Tango-UK or the Facebook group will probably tell you which ones without the Flash and scrolling.

How it went: There were lots of people there who I wanted to dance and socialise with, and who wanted to dance and socialise with me, and I had a really nice evening. I knew quite a few people there, and the presence of Adrian and Amanda happend to have attracted a mix of people that worked out well. I'm not sure it would be the best choice if you didn't know anyone, unless you have a lot of experience. I passed up an early lift home because I was really getting into it. Most of the dancing was pretty civilised, the floor is huge, and I don't think I got any bumps at all. The music was all right. It's Saturday. I'd probably go there whenever it was on, if I had a way of getting home that didn't take an hour and a half in the cold with all the drunks.


Social Dancer said...

Interesting how you become forgiving and flattering about some of the venues here only because of the way you are greeted or received as you get in!

Dancing in a large dark and very often empty school sports hall which has no soul and character and where there is NO fresh air and where the dust from the floor and shoes is fanned into our throats and lungs throughout the evening in order to stop us suffocating from the relentless heat, or alternatively take your choice from being frozen if you are sitting down in a winter night: these are most unpleasant if not unhealthy.

Perhaps you did not experience or failed to notice the dirty wine glasses that get re-used straight from the same boxes they were put in the last time they were used!

By the way how did you manage to cabacceo or even be seen by anyone who was not sitting near you since I find this impossible across the dark corners of any sides of any sports hall football pitch! What is your strategy for coping with your ear drums blasted with pain every time you danced on the outside line and passed the speakers that are at a person's height?

Finally how can the mind numbing boring choices of "class & practica" music during most of the evening be an inspiration to anyone? Maybe it is easy for a lazy or careless DJ not to do much work but we expect more than just DJ's comfort!

I like your efforts in doing these reviews and we do read them. However I felt the need to highlight that it would be good to see a more balanced approach from you and not to feel that you are being dismissive of the some things that you have been critical of in your other reviews in the past.

msHedgehog said...

Yes, it makes an enormous difference to me how I am greeted and treated. I think this is real and important and is the easiest thing for the organiser to change, when it's often not possible to change things about the venue. So being nice seems worth mentioning and encouraging.

I didn't notice dirty glasses; perhaps they were clean, or perhaps they weren't on the table. I can only tell you what I saw on this visit, and I don't make stuff up. That means that it will always be less fair to places I go less often.

Feel free to write your own, the more the better.

Andreas said...

@Social Dancer: I have only been to Corrientes once, quite sometime ago, so I am not quite up to date. What did you dislike about the music? What is it you would like played? (Just trying to get a picture here so I know if I want to go there again).
I think they do advertise Golden Age music in tandas and cortinas - is that your problem with it or is it something else?

Game Cat said...

Social Dancer:

Firstly, I think it's explicit upfront that the review herein was based on ONE VISIT, so readers would know to take this into account.

Secondly, as a more regular visitor than Ms H or Andreas, I can add the following:

- I agree cabacceo is challenging because of the lighting and layout, and I do prefer to cabacceo. My view is we can't have everything we want - it's the price of having a nice big room. Just means you have to ensure pple you want to dance with know you are there, and circulate the room sufficiently to be close to your next partner.

- Music - okay, but could be better. Have found the Corri team responsive in the past on at least 2 occasions...once when a friend emailed them with collective feedback, and second when someone else told Giraldo directly in his DJ courner. Suggest you try doing the same. Because Giraldo is welcoming, it does make it easier for most pple to approach him about feedback. (Andreas - Golden Age music mostly, but choice of songs and tanda construction could be improved, as for most milongas; occasional salsa).

- Speaker positioning: Know what you mean, but only one spot is annoying (speaker close to entrance). I notice smart leaders take the inner LoD when passing by and don't linger. There's usually a 'gap' in the floor around there. Follow the flow and usually no problem.

- Can't comment on the glasses as I usually do bottled water (if I hadn't brought my own).

- Ms H: I would add re toilets, that the Mens' (Boys?) ones are excellent. Many loos, clean, everything working.

Anonymous said...

@ Social Dancer
I have been a regular of Corrientes for the last 4-5 years. Giraldo and Mina have made a huge effort with the space at Chalk Farm and considering the restrictions, because yes it is in a school, have not done too badly.
Hospitality is very important and the welcome given by Giraldo and his team is appreciated.
The music started out well as Mina was the DJ and then it went a bit downhill from there as the second DJ to put it frankly, sucked.
Given the venue is large, cabaceo is a bit tricky and might mean that one may have to move closer to someone in order to execute it, but I don't have a problem getting dances as I tend to know a lot of people that go there that I want to dance with and that want to dance with me.
As for dirty glasses, well I didn't see any either.
If you don't like the place, then you shouldn't go.
I like it, I like the organisers and I like the people that go and I always have a good evening there.
I am glad that H had a chance to go and that she enjoyed herself.

Snow Leopard said...

How is everyone who likes the cabeceo going to manage at Corrientes tonight? Shake your skull? Bare your fangs? Nod with your whole head and hope your mask doesn't fall off! Could be some interesting surprises when the cabeceo-ees meet on the dancefloor.

msHedgehog said...

@snowleopard, it's a pretty funny notion!

Social Dancer said...

Thanks to everyone who took the matter seriously enough to contribute to my comment on MsHedgehog's post reviewing the Corrientes.

I am not a blog writer and can not possibly cope with even regular writing of timely Birthday Cards, so a blog is out of question.

I just wished that you could show some more balance in your critical reviews rather than be "bias" as I felt some of your praise of the club was undeserving.

I have absolutely no problems with Golden Age with or without cortinas. what I do have a problem with is when the dj spins a commercially disk from its starting to end tracks (twice over) in the same evening! That is just being lazy, and cruel to customers.

@Game Cat
Glad to see that you agree with on most points but I think your suggestion of us having a "Map" for the dance floor is stretching matters a bit too far! Thank you nevertheless for your point of view.

Perhaps you are telling me that you form your views on the last 4 to 5 years and that overall you feel satisfied. That is good if it suits your expectations.

As a Social Dancer I base my opinion on every visit to any milonga. When they take my money from me I expect the delivery of a CLEAN, SAFE, WELCOMING, with APPROPRIATE hall & music etc with minimum of fuss. I expect this level of service on every visit and for everyone. Thank you.

Finally, we pay organisers at the door without any quabbles with our well-earned money, I think in return they have a duty to deliver an equally valuable service for this payment therefore asking for the least in good service should not be seen as being too demanding!

Thanks to MsHedgehog once again for doing the post.

Anonymous said...

@ Social Dancer
I do not base my overall opinion on the last 4-5 years. Some evenings are better than others, but on the whole, I have found my experiences at Corrientes to be better than average. Nothing is perfect and organisers can have an off night and so I give them a chance. If I find my experience consistently mediocre, then I stop going to places. It took me 5 consistent weeks to get dances in when I first started dancing when Corrientes was at Tavistock Place. I was new and didn't know anyone. There are many things that can contribute to an individual's experience and that can be mainly personal. Some people won't like a place because they don't dance much and that has nothing to do with the hospitality.
If you are that concerned about your experience at Corrientes, I might suggest that you send a constructive e-mail to the organisers as they take this type of thing very seriously.

OwenMc said...

Let me understand this: MsH writes a review of a place, describing her experience of it, what she finds nice, what she didn't find nice, and you:
- come back with a comment about how forgiving she is, decrying things she did not experience
- later, call this bias?

Should she 'forgive' a place for shortcomings you experienced, but she did not? How, exactly?

By all means, contribute your own experience to counterpoint a review you may believe was too rosy (can't say - not a Corrientes regular), but don't in the same breath imply that the original review should have somehow known to include those experiences, and as a result demonstrated bias.

Game Cat said...

Social Dancer:

I quote: "your suggestion of us having a "Map" for the dance floor is stretching matters a bit too far".

I don't recall ever suggesting leaders should have a "map" of the floor. If you mean making a mental note of obstructions and navigating around them, isn't this what any good leader should be it to avoid pillars, puddles or pillocks?

Btw does the line of dance and ronda constitute a "map"? They must be respected in any milonga, to enable everyone to enjoy themselves.

If a man doesn't have basic floor craft or doesn't like to exercise it, he shouldn't be on the floor.