Monday, 25 January 2010

Tangology @ The Langley

UPDATE This one has now moved to the Warwick: 1-3 Warwick Street, London, W1B 5LR. Same organiser, I haven't been to it yet.

Since leaving Wild Court, the Tangology Sunday milonga has been looking for a venue and has now ended up at The Langley bar, near Covent Garden. It's been going for three weeks.

The Class:
There's a free beginners' lesson from 17:00 to 18:00, and a few people had clearly enjoyed it enough to stick around out of curiousity. Then there's a general-level class from 18:30 to 20:00 when the milonga starts. I haven't taken classes with Eleonora but she has a good reputation for the basics, from what I hear; her dance is predominantly nuevo-style.

Layout and Atmosphere: A downstairs Covent Garden bar. Follow the stairs right down from the door. Go past the long bar on your right and the cloakroom on your left. (It didn't seem to be staffed, but if it is when you go in, it would probably be an idea to leave your coat there as there isn't much room inside and your stuff gets all over the sofas, shoes everywhere). Whoever is taking the money is at a high table at the end, and the dancing is through the door behind them. The cement floor is a narrow triangle with the bar on one long side and some raised seating round a triangular table taking up the other bit of the more or less rectangular room. The DJ has a booth in the corner by the door and there are other off-dancefloor spaces to sit down at the points of the triangle.

It's dark, with glowlights (what are those called? The ones that make all sorts of surprising bits of clothing glow) and a disco ball. The strange shape of the floor actually works well. It's been surprisingly orderly, so far, even when quite full, maybe because people have to pay attention and think quite hard about how to manage the triangle, together with the fact that most of the seating doesn't encroach on the floor. It's not quite so good for getting a dance if you don't know people - maybe there's a tradeoff there. It is good for socialising with your friends, and it's good for watching.

The floor is cement, smooth for cement, but very sticky without talc. There was plenty down and it was ok, I could dance without injury. But if you have any knee or ankle problems you may want to be extra careful, and of course it's very hard.

The bar in there isn't staffed, a good thing as it would be very awkward to try and get served while people were dancing. If you want a drink you'll need to come out and go into the long bar. Which smells terrible, incidentally. If you leave late you may have trouble finding your way out if the doors to the stairs are closed. Just push.

The curious beginners at the start did something rather nice for the atmosphere. Later on it's mainly just serious dancers and (with that and perhaps Ewa's DJing, I'm not sure) I felt it was nice and calm and comfortable.

Hospitality: Mixed. It's a bar. It does bar food. Two double G&Ts with ice and lemon - one for me and one for a friend - came to a rather startling £16.40. There's a cloakroom that appeared to be open. I've used the loos on two occasions out of three visits, and both times the floor was very wet, the second time also very dirty. Everything worked, with plenty of hot and cold water and plenty of fully functioning cubicles. But you can't wear your good shoes in there. Admittedly it was raining outside, but the venue management doesn't consider it necessary to mop up, although they do consider it necessary to have "one to a cubicle" signs. A "deluxe cocktail venue" it may be, for a given value of deluxe. The milonga itself, though, feels comfortable, with nice seating, the bar service is prompt and professional, and talc had been put down to improve the floor.

Anyone or anything interesting: Just social dancing.

What I thought of the DJing: Eleonora's DJs all play 90%-100% traditional but have a wide variety of views about cortinas - every tanda, every other tanda, apparently at random, or not at all - but their tandas themselves are pretty reliable. Ewa, on this occasion, played cortinas between (I think) tandas of four, and played some Di Sarli just when I felt it was going to get a little bumpy; it chilled, and I thought she did a good job. (The cortina was Take Five, which I have always wanted to dance to as an experiment, I don't know whether it would feel like a really wierd spaced-out milonga or an even wierder vals).

Getting in: £6.

Getting there and getting home: Under a minute's walk from Covent Garden. Bear left out of Covent Garden tube. Cross the zebra crossing to Marks and Spencer's, continue left, and the street is first right, you can see it from the Tube exit. The Langley is hard to see at first but it's just past the Mexican place. Caution: it's Sunday, so the last Tube to your destination may be well before midnight - they stop an hour earlier than other days.

The website: At the time of writing, Tangology hasn't been updated with the latest venue details, but I wouldn't look there anyway. Check the announcement list. The bar has its own website, with menus and whatnot.

How it went: It attracted committed dancers in various styles who coexisted peacefully. The only really noticeable bump I got was a genuine error, sincerely apologised for. Quite a nice floor, some good dancing going on. The difficult surface can be dealt with, although if you have any knee problems you might want to take extra talc. The odd-shaped floor seems to make it surprisingly safe. When you're not dancing you can sit down in comfort and watch other people, or enjoy the music. In the first three weeks, there hasn't been a rival in the centre of town, the house at 33 Portland Place having closed for business; so there's no knowing how it will develop, but it certainly has a core from previous versions of the same milonga. That core is pretty 'nuevo,' which isn't really my thing, but there were still a few partners who would appreciate my dance or whose dance I would appreciate. If it is your thing then this would be a good place to go (although you will still be dancing it to traditional music).

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