Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Milonga Review: Sway bar

This review is done very much in the style of Ms Hedgehog’s whose reviews I found so helpful when I was just venturing out into the scary world of London milongas. As she hadn’t done one for Sway, I thought I would put my work commute to good use, only to find she has pipped me to the post! :-)
Ms Hedgehog's review)


Location: Sway bar, 61 -65 Great Queen Street, Holborn
Dates and times: Wednesdays, 8 till 12
Cost: Free!
Average drinks price: Soft drinks £2.50, spirit and mixer approx. £4
Varied bar menu.

This is a new (August ’09) milonga organised by Eleanora of Tangology. It is held on the ground floor (although you go up some stairs to enter) in a large bar attached to the Connaught Hotel with ornate cornices on the ceiling. There are booths on two of the edges and a bar and kitchen area on the other sides. If you are lucky enough to have a booth or know friends in a booth, then you can easily leave your coat and bags in (relative) safety, otherwise you might feel they are a little exposed leaving them around the edges, especially when the dance floor gets busy. I couldn’t see a working cloakroom on my visit although there is one attached to the basement non-tango bar (separate entrance or accessed via the toilets) which you might be able to use.

Classes: None. There are however several close-by (
Tango in action, Tango Movement, Tango Soul etc.) so its easy enough to get some practice in first before coming along.

How easy is it to get dances?: Sitting with friends in a booth can mean it is hard to get dances if you are hemmed in at the back, although if you have good eyesight and are a dab hand with the cabeceo, you might have more luck as it is relatively light inside. The backs of the booths near the main entrance are used as leaning posts so you can easily watch the dancers but this means you can only be easily approached from behind so you may miss out on invites or be directly offered those which you wish you could have averted! By the bar, there are several tall tables and stools for elegant perching.

The Powder Room: Downstairs, underneath the dance floor. Ample space for putting on shoes and easy enough to change in a cubicle if necessary. Large sinks with well lit mirrors mean you can easily doll yourself up if you’ve come straight from work or had to cycle in. You can also hear the music from upstairs so can dash up if you hear your favourite tune.

Who goes there?: Quite a few of the Sunday Tangology crowd (not surprising as this is their new Sunday venue), Southerners who don’t fancy the journey up north to the Dome and tangueros who have just finished their central classes (there are several, take your pick!) and fancy trying out their newly acquired moves. Generally a young-middling crowd. Quite a few people just drop in for an hour.

Timings: The floor doesn’t really pick up until 9 although there are always a few couples taking advantage of the free space to try out new moves etc and several groups bagging booths and tucking into the food deals.

Quirks: It is free (go Eleanora!!) but this also means the bar is open to the general public. Spot a few voyeurs sitting in the corners.

Rivals: The Dome

Finding your way outside: Just 3 mins from Holborn tube station (Central line). There are also lots of buses on Kingsway (1 min) which go (south) towards Waterloo, Trafalgar Square or (north) Euston.
From Holborn tube station: Take the exit directly in front of the escalators and turn left. Walk to the traffic lights and cross over the road. Great Queen Street is the next street on your right and Sway is on your left after you have passed the large hotel with the circular driveway.

Finding your way inside: When you first come up the stairs, you enter one set of glass double doors into a foyer (sometimes with a doorman/bouncer). Go through the second glass double doors to enter the dance floor or turn immediately left and go downstairs for the toilets.


  1. Yay! I'm glad they helped you. My idea was to just give the social dancer a clue what to expect - it is hard enough emotional work to go at all, on your own, without at least some sort of help. I agree with you that it needs a cloakroom, I didn't spot the one downstairs. We could try it tomorrow.

  2. They were incredibly helpful - especially as I generally ventured out alone and needed a bit of encouragement that I wasn't going to be eaten alive on entry!

    In fact, I still use them now (went to the Bedford the other night for the first time - what is it with that dangerous road by the pub?! I almost didn't make it inside!)

  3. It was the same for me, which is why I started them - it gave me motivation to go to different places, as I could look at it as a research project. There are still several I haven't got round to, but I probably won't in the next few weeks. So you go ahead and I'll link you ;)