Review: Porchester Hall

Location: Porchester Hall

Time: 8pm - midnight

Date: Sunday 31st January


Porchester Hall is the new location for the group Tango @ 33, with milongas previously held in 33 Portland Place (relocation due to problems with the venue). Unfortunately the Tango@33 web site has not at the time of writing yet been updated, but there's a Facebook group here which is up-to-date.

On arrival costs were £12 class, or £10 for the milonga only.

There were coat racks at the entrance, and I was asked not to take my bag onto the floor, but to leave it downstairs - er, ok. (I was not happy about that, as the reception staff buggered off, leaving coats and bags unattended later on in the evening. Sorry, but it bugged me).

The venue

Porchester Hall is in Bayswater, close to Whiteleys shopping centre {Map here).

If you're driving, then parking is a bit difficult at first, but it being a Sunday night it was hunt-the-single-yellow-line time, driving around the one way system and encountering also closed roads, it was a challenge...

I wouldn't even consider trying to park if it wasn't an evening function, you can't imagine what problems with residents parking etc... Surprisingly, I did get a place to park and just one road away, but I did think I was lucky.

It is a large beautiful (council run) hall which, to give an idea of the size, holds 10 massive chandeliers in its main room. It has a large stage and a very roomy wooden floor, in fact, only half the room was used otherwise it would have just been just too big.

The milonga

The organisers are clearly keen on emphasizing the line of dance and rules thereof, which makes a change - an extract from the blurb reads as follows:

Emphasising these simple rules of social dancing makes your dance a pleasurable experience!! Enjoy the simple beauty of flowing in your dance on a crowded dance floor, close embrace posturing, and dancing in union with the other dancers on the floor, rather than as an individual.
Social tango with others involves floorcraft:
- keeping in your "lane" (not large side stepping into another "lane")
- keeping behind the couple in front - NO OVERTAKING
- flowing forward on the dance floor - spending too long on one spot with figures stacks up the "traffic" behind you
- allowing the music to pause you when there are pauses, and move you in relation to the music (everyone is listening - hopefully!)
- naturally a lovely space is then created for ourselves and everyone around us

This place and the people it attracted reminded me of 'upstairs and Negrachas' (without people looking down at you from the stage) with all the well-serious dancers religiously obeying the direction of dance rule. This was a place for those tango anorak regulars that dress up in their suits and nice dresses/trendy Tango wear - and why not. You get the sense that there would be no horsing around, this is where tango is done properly from what I was seeing.

The music was a bit 'Carablanca-ish' i.e that bloody plucky-pluck type of music that sounds like every plucky record played. OK, maybe it's just me, yeah...

The other half of the hall was cordoned off by a row of floor lights at the rear of the room for use as a practice area - which absolutely no one used (er, one lone couple for 10 minutes).

They offered free refreshment of water, ginger beer (hey! I approve!) and a few nibbles, but no hot drinks available.

There was a display by the Costa's (Amanda and Adrian) where everyone cheered and dutifully clapped (they were good!).

~ Ken Royden, 3rd February 2010

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