Saturday, 6 June 2009

A difficult legacy... and a good night at Carablanca

A good night at Carablanca, which means there weren't so many people there, enough to create a buzz, enough to make dancing interesting, but not enough to make leading stressful. & it can be a bit stressful when there's a lot of sudden random movement and inconsiderate dancing going on around, not to mention flying Comme il Fauts... It's great to enjoy a whole evening of dance and to come out feeling relaxed, rather than a bit exhausted, even if I'd enjoyed dancing, which was how I felt when I left last week. & DJ Jill Barrett's music kept the evening going, as ever.

So London milongas can be good, but only when there aren't too many people...

I identified my bête noir, not as the 'nuevo' in which there's nothing very new but as stage tango danced in milongas. I have it on good authority that the greatest nightmare of stage dancers, particularly in ballet, is forgetting your choreography, not knowing what comes next, like an actor 'drying up'. It's a world in which dance is controlled, absolutely. So the milonga is entirely the reverse. You never know in advance where the music is going to lead you, and the space in which you can move is constantly, unpredictably changing. It's a world of immediate, instant reaction: there's no time to think. All popular dances sink (or rise) into a state in which individuality is absorbed into the whole, into a trance of some kind, and I'd like to think that tango is the most complex of all these dances, in which the partner, the music, and the floor as a whole, become undifferentiated. Which for me is why anyone's attempt to be a star, to show off how good he or she is, to ignore the floor as a whole and the music, cut across the best possibilities of a milonga.

Thanks for the comments on the previous post:

Game Cat: funny you should mention First Friday, exactly what I had in mind! I think DB and First Friday have already gone a long way, not only by organising events but also by their interest in a 'milonguero' way of dancing. But I can't think of a smallish milonga playing decent music in central London that could be 'infiltrated'. The Wine Bar comes to mind, and I'm sure Nikky would be delighted if we all turned up there. Did you have one in mind?

Thanks, Janis, for reminding me of the rules at Cachirulo. Actually I'm not really in favour of rules and excluding people. I'd hate to turn up at one of my regular milongas to find a note reading: 'No close-hold dancing! No turning on the spot!' It's a pity it became necessary at Cachirulo, but at least it remains a very popular event with local dancers.

If a small milonga gets going in London its name and advertising would suggest its orientation. As I see it, size matters. Dancers who like big moves will avoid small spaces and go for large popular places where they can be seen to perform. I haven't been there much, but I think dancing at the Wine Bar is generally pretty good: everyone is aware of the space limitation and everyone tends to treat everyone else well. & I think it's easier to apologise to people, if necessary, for the lack of space, and ask them to keep their movements small. If they don't like it they won't come back, but at least it won't seem personal.

DB: I agree it might be possible. But I must say profitability wouldn't be a great concern, although lossability certainly would. It would be brilliant if something like that could cover its costs from the start. & sorry I didn't recognise you for a moment last week after Carablanca: tangocommuters get in a panic about the last train!


Janis said...

The rules at Cachirulo apply in all milongas, but they are the only ones who announce them for the benefit of the tourists. Dance floor rules are necessary, like rules of the road. There will always be one or two hotrodders who have to let loose with wild driving and cause accidents when the majority are there to enjoy the music and relax.

A public announcement of standard dance rules could help the community in general. One should be added for those wearing Comme il Faut stilletos: all heel tips must stay in contact with the floor while dancing.

Game Cat said...

I agree. Public announcements, if made in the right spirit and tone, (ie. this is NOT a police state), should be fine and welcomed. I think I saw a clip on you tube re Cachirulo where it was announced, and the speaker almost jokingly asked for it to be translated into a number of languages for the benefit of tourists. People laughed and applauded....and I'm sure complied on the floor.

I don't think size of floor is a must-have factor. Music, at least to me, is more important. Will let you know if I can think of an appropriate milonga.

Tango commuter said...

I linked that video in March under the title "How they organise things in Buenos Aires..." and the announcements were applauded by a largely Argentine 'audience'. It might be a bit different in London.
If you 'infiltrate' a pre-existing milonga you aren't in a position to make announcements, or to control the advertising.

If setting up a milonga, then a small room will probably cost less than a big one! It's unlikely to be used by so many people. & the size and insignificance of a small milonga would probably deter dramatic movers. I'm not thinking 'small' in the sense of drawing-room small: just not grach or CaraB big. Nevertheless, the main floor at Porteno y Bailarin in Buenos Aires can't be much more than 12ft x 18. But people go there to eat and drink and socialise, as well as to dance.

David Bailey said...

Hmmmm... well, we've _got_ a successful "infiltration" with First Friday already - there's typically 30+ of us there.

Maybe one approach is to use this group, explain the dance floor rules, and suggest to them all that they follow these rules.

If we combined this with a greater incentive (more discount on entry, for example), then we might have something. Of course, there's no obvious way of monitoring or enforcing this, we'd need to chat to Ivan about how we could achieve it...

Might be worth a try, anyway.

David Bailey said...

As for "announcements", my experience of them is that they're of limited effectiveness at best. Simply put, people don't listen...