While I have been away in the sunshine, I’ve been missing out on some of the recent tango gossip. One of the most interesting developments has been the introduction of the 'Tango de Salon room' at 33 Portland Place (a regular Sunday night milonga – review to follow shortly). Apparently, it was started up a few weeks ago and the first two sessions were overseen by Adrian Costa (visiting and teaching with his partner Amanda). The aim was to create a room where floor-craft rather than any particular moves/styles was the focus. Certain rules were put in place (ie: no overtaking, sticking to your ‘lane’, always moving in the correct direction etc) and apparently enforced (see Ms Hedgehog’s account of the first two weeks).
Having suffered from a particularly nasty case of the ‘bumps’ (think dodgems and battering ram) while out on Friday night, I was keen to see how this room worked and whether it would be accepted or slated by the tango community (rumours had reached me that some dancers were rather offended when their floor-craft was called into question!)
So what was the verdict? Well, in my opinion quite good. There was a short announcement before the milonga started explaining the principles and then there were flyers on the tables detailing the ‘Dos and Don’ts’. Generally, the room was not that busy but that was partly due to the fact that there was a live music for dancing in the other room. I noticed a few people making an active attempt at cajoling other dancers or their partners into sticking to the rules and certainly the line of dance kept flowing much better than in most milongas I’ve been to. I certainly felt able to (sweetly) mention the rules to one partner I was dancing with myself and chastised, he danced the rest of the tanda in synchrony with the rest of the couples. [Later, he told me that he had been unaware of the rules - possibly a way to save face? - although surely not a good excuse, as it implies that he felt good floor-craft was somehow separate from his normal social tango!]
It will be interesting to see if this room can survive or whether the tango community will ignore it. Certainly, last night it was not very busy but the question is why? Was it merely because there was live music upstairs? Is it mainly a question of presence (ever since I have been going to 33P I have perceived that the main room was the upstairs room – due to its atmosphere and close proximity to the drinks)? Or is it just that some dancers actually don’t like the idea of being ‘confined’ or ‘restricted’ to the conventions of ‘tango de salon’. Is this room going to merely be for a certain kind of milonguero?
One of the organisers told me that this room’s survival will depend on the amount of people that use it and enjoy it. They have already received some comments from people saying that they disliked the room and I’ve also heard whispers of ‘pretentious’ and ‘too BA orientated’ from others but apart from this negativity, most people I have spoken to are in approval and welcome this idea.
So, does this kind of room appeal or repel you? And if you approve, then Londoners vote with your feet and meet me in the Tango de Salon room!