I have no internet access while travelling in the UK, despite all the WiFi hotspots and free access at Weatherspoons. For some reason I just cannot get it to work. I always could before but not now for some reason. So tales of my travels are delayed until my return. This is the first, others will follow in time, but you will have to be patient.
On our travels we always seek out tango venues. Often the websites are out of date or the venues simply do not exist, still we always travel in hope. Where we do manage to find an actual dance, often the crowd is cliquey or the music is some score that a local DJ thinks anyone can tango to. So although we travel in hope, we are never too optimistic.
Such was our frame of mind as we set off for Southampton on a busy Thursday evening. Our satnav although not the best usually manages to get us somewhere near the venue, usually diverting us all around the houses first. The drive to Southampton was uneventful, although as we passed all the signs Viv was staring to doubt the “bitch” again. I had no knowledge of where this venue was so I had little option but to follow. As we passed over smaller and smaller roundabouts, suddenly we were in the street named on the website.
The “bitch was not having this though and sent us around the corner to as small shopping street. Why is it whenever you want to turn the car around there is a huge van right behind you that follows you up every turning you take to get out of the way? Once turned around we headed back to the original street, ignoring, “You are near your destination” and “You have arrived”. There sure enough was what looked like a community centre, and those people looked like they were carrying dance shoes.
We followed the small crowd through the glass doors into a beautiful room to the sounds of D’Arienzo. Already I was starting to like this. A black guy rushed over and introduced himself as Dele, welcoming us to his Milonga and quickly explaining where everything was. Just as quickly he rushed off again, I guess that everything was not yet quite ready.
We signed in, leaving my email address and looked for a seat. For the first few tandas not much happened, and then people started to get up. We joined them on the floor and I was instantly lost in the music. The combination of good floor, good dancers, and great music had my mind spiraling back to Buenos Aires.
Later Dele came over to talk to us about his milonga, his teaching methods and his music. Viv and I had been waiting for a milonga tanda, but Dele, being the great host asked her to dance. I knew that this would happen, one track then milonga. Still Viv looked happy so I grabbed one of the local ladies and set off to have some fun of my own.
We managed to get that milonga tanda later, so we did not miss out. As we sat down after the next tanda another guy approached our table “Hi Bob, I know you but you may not know me” he said “We have a mutual Friend”. It turned out he was the John Morton that Janis told us all about. He had spent four months in Buenos Aires and left just before we arrived this year. It was great to spend some time reminiscing about venues and Milongas in Buenos Aires. We also spoke about Marcela and Ruben from Nuevo Chique; Ruben has had a Stroke and has not been to the Milonga since April. Marcela is now back attending the Milonga, we had all feared it may end and are glad she is back, but our thoughts are still with Ruben.
My fears on what we would find here were totally unfounded; here was a guy who really got what tango is. Often I hear “we teach only traditional Tango” from people who have no idea what that means, well I can only complement the standards here, the ladies I danced with, although they were mostly beginners, they followed whatever I had led. They understood the concept of following and moved without pre conceived ideas of what I would do next. I took them often well beyond what they had been taught and when they passed the point where they could follow there was no recrimination just a smile or laugh and we simply carried on.
It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a Milonga in the UK this much. The music was great, the host friendly, there was not a hint of any sort of clique and both Viv and I danced our socks off. My only regret is that it is so far away, I fear it will be some time before I can return. When I do return, for I most definitely will, I look forward to dancing again with such great followers and Viv is looking forward to more good dances with all the friendly men.
6 responses to “Milonga Liso”
I have spent many hours in Confiteria Ideal, as an afternoon milonga it is hard to surpass. They have done a lot of work to restore it and now it is getting closer to its glory days.
As for La Catedral; you can hardly call it a milonga please read https://tangogales.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/milonga-is-that-what-you-call-it/
It will be many moons before I even think of returning.
Not all milongas are so formal. There is a wacky place to dance called ‘La Catedral’ where nuevo-tango dance and music is the norm and you just ask people to dance in the usual way. Also, don’t forget to go to the Confiteria Ideal, where, despite its fading glory and octogenarian waiters, it is still a spectacle and reminder of how big tango once was here. The afternoon tea dances are much more relaxed and not as crowded as the evening functions.
I would hope that anyone who has danced with us or has taken a class with us can understand, but I realise that for many, tango is about steps and for them the music will always be a mystery. We can only keep trying.
Ah! John Moreton, yet another case of small world.
It’s nice to read that you were “lost in the music.” I know what you mean, however, I doubt many can understand.
John Morton knows you from photos I sent him. I’m so glad that you guys got to meet in his neighborhood.
I am always happy to recommend the best, I hope to visit again soon.
Thanks for the review of Pilands,Viv and Bob,the milonga is run on traditional grounds(we hope!)