Sunday, 13 September 2009

Rivertango

Rivertango - from one open-air milonga to another, but Tangocommuter commutes - moved from the river outside Tate Modern to Spitalfields this year, probably because it coincided with the Thames festival, but it is surely a vast improvement on the Tate Modern site, which is overrun by by a flood of visitors, where dance-floor invasions are the order of the day and one never knows who is there to dance or just to watch, with a cold damp wind blowing off the Thames: as a place to dance it's unsafe and uncomfortable, a nightmare. Spitalfields is altogether more of a milonga, under the canopy, which gives it a bit of a protected, intimate feel. There are tourists in Spitalfields, and the odd unsupervised toddler or visiting rock n'roller intrudes on the dance floor, which admittedly is hard (the floor, that is), but it's easy enough to spot who's there to dance, and it feels like a milonga. I hope the move to Spitalfields will be permanent, because one visit to the riverside site last year was enough for me.

As for the two £25-a-head milongas, I am told that the Sexteto Canyengue gave note-perfect renditions of tango scores, as classical musicians can, and incidentally gave a perfect demo that, although tango is played from the notes on written scores, the way those notes are played, their precise duration, the precise speed of phrases, the changes of speed within phrases, the exact emphasis, the 'attack', all of which give tango its own distinctive swing, are almost as important as the work of the composer and arranger. Was that worth £25? & the fact that other milongas, which usually charge 1/3 of that price, closed 'in favour of' this extravaganza, leaves me gob-smacked. Surely something expensive and exclusive has to earn the right to be expensive and exclusive, and it doesn't sound as if it did.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Someone somewhere is counting the dollars thinking us fools....

Andreas said...

It makes sense for regular milongas to not compete with big events, for who wants to run an evening for a handful of people when a large part of the regulars might be drawn away? And maybe the organizers wanted to go to the big events, too.
As for the prices, orchestras cost real money, so there is justification for that. The question is only am I willing to pay that kind of money for whatever it is I am getting, which is another issue altogether.

Tangocommuter said...

@ Andreas, that is partly my point: am I willing to pay that kind of money for whatever it is I am getting? If it had been Orquesta Escuela, El Arranque, Color Tango, Ciudad Baigon, Astillero, Fernando Fierro...

Anyway, I tend to prefer milongas that feel a bit intimate, rather than big, high-profile, expensive public events.

londontango said...

Spotted you on Sunday on my way to Spitalfields. I had just come from The Southbank. It was not as busy as in the previous years. The jive and swing dancing had been moved to Potters field and there was no Tango in front of the Tate Modern. found that the space in front of the museum was under utilised and pretty dead. The magical fire garden apparently wasn't lit up until it got dark. Unlike you, I have always enjoyed dancing in front of the Tate and have always had an excellent time. It was convenient for me to get to and when the music ended at 9pm, I was just tired enough to easily head back home and skip the milongas.
I enjoyed the dancing at Spitalfields but only stayed for just over an hour as I was with someone who doesn't dance. I hadn't been before. It is not convenient for me to drive or park the car for a Thursday, which is why I hadn't been before and the floor is not that great. I wore my dance trainers which were effective but not as elegant.

Tangocommuter said...

Sorry I didn't see you! The floor is the main problem at Spitalfields, but I guess the same wooden floor could be laid there as they use at Tate Modern/Tango al Fresco. Glad you've enjoyed the Tate Modern site, but I found the hordes of visitors and their casual use of the floor was a problem. Spitalfields is less of a big public event, which is why I preferred it for dancing.

msHedgehog said...

I'll be interested to hear what the Bloomsbury Ballroom was like - like whether it was crowded and whether there were enough seats. I hear it's pretty, but I didn't go as I'd heard that last year it was very overcrowded, and I don't enjoy that. And there's no point in paying extra for something I'll enjoy less than the normal offering.

I do find the floor at Spitalfields difficult, but no worse than the plywood-and-sticky-tape one they used to have in front of the Tate. I wear smooth-soled street shoes. The main problem I have with it is that there's nowhere to put my things except in the middle of the dancefloor, and it's very hard to retrieve them from there to get refreshments or leave before the end.

Tangocommuter said...

I talked to just one person about Bloomsbury, which perhaps accounts for my overstated view on the music. It was fairly crowded, not enough seats, and many more women than men... Yes, I wish there had been one 'normal offering', but with two free milongas on offer I shouldn't complain.

The Spitalfields floor is smooth enough, but it's very hard! A wood floor would just be more comfortable. & they had the cloakroom sorted: there was a big red bus on-site, run by very affable Argentine volunteers on behalf of a charity for Argentine children.