Monday, 11 February 2013

Tango Cabaret @ Gaucho Swallow Street

Tuesday: Press night at Gaucho Swallow Street.

What this place is actually about: The steaks are outstanding. My ends of fillet were delicious and almost as tender as icecream. I was there with Carole the Photographer, who once cycled her way around the vineyards of Argentina, and she selected an excellent wine; an oak aged  white Torrontes, made especially for Gaucho and apparently not available elsewhere. It was superb.

The DJ and  the cocktail bar at Gaucho Swallow Street
An exceedingly dapper young man came in with a suitcase, installed himself beside the cocktails, and acted as house DJ - fairly loud, but it was still possible to talk, with concentration. I certainly prefer it to pointless piped muzak. The place has some genuine style.

The performance, which began with our dessert, fitted the brief. The brief was apparently given by a restaurateur who was under some pretty bizarre impressions about tango, if the press release is anything to go by. The most surprising was that electrotango was in some sense new; as for the rest, I won't go into it. You could deduce what they were trying to do, which was bring an extra sparkle to a steak house, and I am not at all the intended audience for that sort of performance, far from it. Anyway, the electrotango followed seamlessly from what the DJ was playing before. An audience whose primary interest is their plates probably doesn't need to be startled with a drastic changed in sound, and the concept is enjoyable in the setting, a splendid room at the top of the building, full of mirrors and chandeliers. It really is a glamorous space.

Electrotango performance at Gaucho restaurant
The dancers were Martin Espindola with a lady I don't know, and Maral and Mariano. They are genuine tango dancers, and not generalists with just enough tango for an uninformed audience. That's good for the restaurant's concern with authenticity, and of course it would be an advantage that they can improvise spectacular-looking stuff in the space available without the need for a lot of rehearsals. I supposed that at least parts of the interactions between couples would have been choreographed, perhaps broadly, but Martin told us later that they improvise it all.

Carole has much better pictures here and here.

The cabaret is a regular thing, normally on Saturdays, and the deal is that if you mention ‘Milonga at 11pm’ when you make your Saturday night reservation, the table is yours until closing, if available. There is, obviously, no actual milonga, in any sense; just the electrotango cabaret. It was quite long - I didn't time it, but I think there were five or six electrotango tracks.

On this occasion the performance was followed by a Midnight Tango afterparty, which was meant to be the actual draw for the press night. We spent some time half way down the stairs with Carole photographing two Paparazzi photographing some-man-I-was-probably-supposed-to-recognise hugging Flavia Cacace, watched by me waving my cloakroom ticket and trying to get out of the way, all on a landing about four feet square. I learned a lot in those two minutes about professional journalism, none of which I think I am capable of using. Also, I learned that Vincent Simone is taller than I would have expected. That might be glamour. Or it might be bullshit. It depends what you're trying to do.

Gaucho Swallow Street. The staff are lovely, the steak is excellent, they have a tango nuevo cabaret on Saturdays, and they treated us. They definitely believe in steak. And also wine. The dulce de leche and malbec icecream was great too.  It's dark, take your glasses for the cocktail menu. I would have had a 'mordida' because it sounded nice and I liked the name, but the wine was enough. The authentic Argentinian bovine products on your plate are more than worth your full attention.

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