Saturday, 13 June 2009

Back to 'grach

It's been a while, but CaraB was closed last night.

There was an curious moment at the end of the class, when the milonga started but the lighting wasn't changed. For about ten minutes the lighting used for the class was on for the milonga. Then someone remembered and it was switched off, and the coloured spots and flickering lights were back on. It was a curious moment because for those ten minutes Negracha looked like... a milonga! A good parquet floor, tables round the periphery, couples dancing. Ten minutes of nostalgia!

It made me wonder: if there is one single factor that could improve the floorcraft in London milongas, it might well be the lighting. When you dance in semi-darkness, with pools of light, and with varying colours and flickering lights too, it might just be harder to be aware who is around you. & because it is darker you feel less exposed, so you might be less responsible. In my very limited experience I don't know a single milonga in BsAs that is dark and unevenly lit, or a single milonga in London that is light and evenly lit. Simba, in that very helpful post on starting a milonga, suggests that dim lighting isn't a good idea, because people should be able to see each other: he recommends good lighting for social reasons, but I think it might be advisable for the quality of the dance too.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's some kind of festival on today and tomorrow at the gratch. Is it worth trying again? I haven't been for over a year and the place was carnage back then. Has it changed?

Henry (@knowtango.com) said...

I think lighting is the single most under-noticed element that contributes to a milonga's success.

Good lighting is absolutely crucial to a pleasant experience. I can't believe you guys have multiple colors moving around the floor!

Tango commuter said...

Carnage? How can you describe one of our best milongas as carnage? Well, yes, you can... Friday night was great because everyone was being extravagant somewhere else, so it was quiet with pleasant enough dancing. But when the festival hits the gratch -- tonight and tomorrow night I believe -- it might be, well, carnage. I'd steer clear. In general, no: I wish it had changed!

@Henry: discotango! The moving lights are just mildly annoying, but the pools of dark and light are a problem. Quite wrong, I agree, but that's most of the milongas here.

Simba said...

Lighting is indeed important.

I have to confess to being guilty of lowering the lights several years ago -- I think the reason was that we wanted to change the ambiance after the class or practica.

We also used multi colored lights, and I have seen it in 'milongas' all over the world. They used it in many Bs As milongas the first time we went there. The strongest memory I think I have from Akarense. So in our case it was direct import from Bs As. Lots of balloons as well :).

It probably only becomes a problem if that's the sole source of light, which will not be sufficient.

Tango commuter said...

I didn't see coloured lights at any of the milongas I visited, but that was only a handful. Maipu 444 (Cachirulo) and Leonesa (Nino Bien) have quite unsympathetic lighting by London standards - and excellent dancing! I think uneven lighting could cause problems, pools of light and darkness, along with generally low levels of light. A bit of colour on its own isn't likely to create problems.

londontango said...

The lighting was best at Corrientes when it was at Tavistock and is still probably the best. You can see everything.
The dim lighting reminds me of high school dances. We are not in high school anymore. I can barely see across the room sometimes. Not good for cabeceo.

Tango commuter said...

The Welsh Centre was always well lit, even and good, and still was when I went there a few weeks back.

David Bailey said...

@Londontango: "The lighting was best at Corrientes when it was at Tavistock and is still probably the best. You can see everything.
The dim lighting reminds me of high school dances. We are not in high school anymore. I can barely see across the room sometimes. Not good for cabeceo."

I've got mixed feelings about lighting.

On the one hand, I completely understand that you need to see people in order to cabaceo them. And whilst I'm not convinced that most people in London will ever use the cabaceo, I do appreciate that having dimly-lit venues won't help.

But on the other hand, I am conditioned to associate dim / fancy lighting with a social occasion, and full lighting with normality. And I suspect most Londoners - most people in the UK for that matter - are the same. It'd take a massive cultural shift to change that association in people's minds.

Finally, Corrientes always struck me as being a bit of a soulless place - having the lights up just makes it look more like a school hall, which of course it is... It looked much nicer (to me) last Saturday when they put on some decor and (dimmer) lighting.

Tango commuter said...

I don't want to go down in history as The Guy who Hated Coloured Lights in Milongas! I said I thought that dancing in semi-darkness with pools of light might contribute to accidents on the dancefloor. If people feel a few coloured lights improves their evening, then fine. But you need a certain level of light to be able to see what is going on on the floor and to see other people. My suggestion was that poor and uneven lighting doesn't lead to a good tango experience.

I'm still intrigued that Negracha with classroom lighting looked so like an authentic milonga. There's a sense that experience should come straight from the dancing, not from any games you can play with coloured lights.

David Bailey said...

"I don't want to go down in history as The Guy who Hated Coloured Lights in Milongas!"
- hey, the main thing is that you do go down in history... :)

I think that lighting is important, it's part of mood-setting. I definitely don't think there should be flashing lights, or moving ones, ever. But apart from that, I'm just not sure...

londontango said...

@David Bailey
I know your views on cabeceo and we don't need to discuss that here.
Lighting is important in any setting, whether it is in a restaurant or a dance hall. But if it interferes with what one is doing such as eating or dancing, then it is a problem.
Tango commuter is right about how not enough or distracting light can affect the dance floor. If it is too dark, then people can't see where they are going or what might be in their way.
There needs to be a balance. Although Corrientes is in a school hall, they have worked very hard to improve lighting and such. I stand by my previous comment about the lighting. I can see the room and everyone in it from one side to another unlike in Negracha.

David Bailey said...

@LondonTango
"@David Bailey
I know your views on cabeceo"
- Do you? Can you tell me what they are then? Because I'm not sure I know my views on cabaceo, I'm still formulating them...

"Although Corrientes is in a school hall, they have worked very hard to improve lighting and such."
I guess the fundamental problem with Corrientes is that the more lighting you have, the more it looks like a school hall. The only way to counteract this is to spend a lot of effort each night "decorating" the hall - several hours of work, I imagine.

"I stand by my previous comment about the lighting. I can see the room and everyone in it from one side to another unlike in Negracha."
Yeah, the lighting helps there. But Negracha's is only half the size of Corrientes, so it kind of cancels out.

It's interesting how you say "dim lighting reminds me of high school dances." whereas to me, higher light levels remind me of school dances. It just shows how cultural perceptions and assumptions vary from place to place.