Saturday, 13 December 2008


Finally got over to Salon Canning, Friday night milonguero class by Alicia Pons, classically trained, who started dancing milonguero with Tete Rusconi. Her dance training gives precision and elegance to her footwork, but she wasn't dancing. The lesson was another ocho cortado class, preceded by walking and leading exercises. A big class, Argentinian, but I think she speaks good English.

Canning is a wonderfully spacious, big room with a parquet floor, worn by generations of dancers but still in good shape, surrounded on all sides by tables, designed for nights of dancing. Some life-sized prints on the walls, great photos, and an amazing photo collage of Canning and the people there, printed onto fabric, must be more than 2x8 metres. & all the cortinas were Beatles songs. From Eleanor Rigby to I am the Walrus.

Once again it was an evening of people who knew each other well, and danced together. I recognised two women from the Porteno y Bailarin classes, and noticed they weren't dancing and probably would have welcomed an invitation, but I know from experience that they haven't learned to reach back, which makes their toes vulnerable, and I'm not going to risk getting on a crowded floor with a woman who hasn't learned that much. If you notice women sitting out and not getting dances there's usually a reason.

A well-dressed occasion, a real social occasion, and pleasantly informal. But watching gets boring, so after a coffee I decided to take a taxi (the Subte closes early) to Ideal to see what was going on. To my great delight the milonga has moved upstairs, and I climbed the white marble staircase for the first time. Even more wonderful, upstairs looks recently decorated, which perhaps is why it's been closed. & it's a fabulous, beautiful room, with huge mirrors and deep rose-coloured hardwood panelling. This was where the BBC's Tango Salon was filmed. I must watch it again when I get back because I don't think they showed the best feature of the room, a great oval cupola or dome in the ceiling over the dance floor, an art deco masterpiece of gilded iron or brass trellis and ceramic. Perhaps because of this the acoustic (Unitango plays Friday nights) is excellent, clear and spacious, unlike the muffled sound downstairs. & there's a little balcony out over the street where you can stand and gaze at the full moon.

But it needs to be reclaimed from the tourists by dancers. It needs just 15 or 20 couples to tip the balance: an intermediate class could have a great evening out here.

Two great venues, and no dances. Patience.

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