Friday, 24 February 2012

Menuda Milonga

This milonga is around once a month (calendar) in one of two venues - Cranbourne, Dorset, or Ringwood, Hampshire. Organised by Richard Slade and Esther Pellejero. Times vary, and you should check the website for the next event; it may be an evening milonga, 19:30 to 23:30, or in the afternoon from 16:00 till around 20:00.

The Class: There isn't one. This milonga is aimed at people who can already dance, are mostly willing to travel some distance, and want to not be messed about by the DJ.

Layout and Atmosphere: There are two venues. The one I've been to is Cecil Memorial Hall in Cranbourne. It's a lovely village hall with a high A-shaped roof, a stage at the far end, a very good floor. There are French windows along the right hand side as you come in, with yellowish curtains, and there's a large hatch leading to the kitchen. You help yourself to refreshments by walking out of the hall and into the kitchen, but you still have a good view of what's going on in the hall and if you keep an eye out, it's perfectly possible to get a dance while you're making tea or eating a biscuit. Rectangular tables are set around all the walls with dark blue tablecloths. In places you can walk behind them, but not all the way round. The DJ has a table on the stage and there is a smallish, unobtrusive "now playing" display. Lighting is good; the good quality of the hall means light can be high enough for everyone to see properly without revealing anything depressing. The warm wood of the floor and ceiling give the whole room a nice look.

Hospitality: Good. You are greeted with joy and can help yourself to plenty of coffee, tea and biscuity things or similar in the large kitchen. On my first visit there were all sorts of other canapé-like things as well. Clean well-lit loos with extra coathooks are off the entrance hall.

Anyone or anything interesting that turned up or happened: Just social dancing.

What I thought of the DJing: Richard Slade DJd. I really enjoyed it on both visits. Traditional, tandas of 4, milonga and vals in 3s. Happy cortinas, long enough. Richard is fairly new to the DJing and doing a bit of experimentation, so I'm sure there's plenty of room for refinement but there was nothing daft and the most demanding of my partners had only minor quibbles. He seems to be discriminating about which feedback he listens to, which is what you want. There's an unobtrusive display that names the current track over some lovely photos of social dancing.

Getting in: £7. Includes refreshments (tea, coffee and biscuits). Non-dancers free.

Getting there and getting home: You have to drive - directions on the website. I was a passenger with a party starting from Bristol; we left at 12, stopped for an hour's lunch, and arrived at about twenty to four.

The website: Gives you all the essential information on the home page.

How it went:  I had a great time. Partly because I and several of my favourite partners had danced for about seven hours at a party the previous night, so I was still in the zone. And I'd travelled with good company, and there was more meeting us there. But also because it's a really nice milonga.

Most of the people there understood the codes that are published on the website. If you don't agree with them, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go there. It was almost always orderly, with good flow, and really nice. I had one tanda slightly messed up by a zigzagger between lanes (Fresedo does not meld well with the desire to elbow one's neighbour), and some consternation was caused by the arrival of an individual notorious for being extremely tiresome to share a floor with; but Richard stalked him for a while and he started to more or less behave. During the crowded part of the evening there was a bit of standing through the cortinas and blocking the view of people sitting down, but it got less so. I think there were enough chairs for everyone, or almost everyone, to sit down, but that might not have been true at the most crowded stage. I had no difficulty keeping my seat.

Unless you live nearby, it would be a long way to drive on your own if you don't know anybody: it makes sense if you are used to travelling fairly long distances for your tango and you know some of the south-west corridor people who do the same. I know that when I travel for tango, unless there is a temporarily spare leader among my acquaintance (as there was this time) I will probably always have to wait out the first hour while people dance in couples and with people they haven't seen for ages, and this is a nice enough milonga that that's not too annoying. I've been there twice, and on the occasion when I arrived 'cold' I had to work harder to keep a level head, but some of the dances I was waiting for had such lovely balloons attached that the balance of the evening was extremely positive. I was quite happy at the times when I was just sitting in my spot and listening, and there were plenty of people who were nice to watch. It's a beautiful milonga.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely review! - thank you Msh. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing you soon.