Review: Vino Latino's (Dancetango)
Location: Vino Latino's wine bar, Central London
Time: 8pm - 11pm
Date: Tuesday 12th January
IntroductionVino Latino's is the only milonga on Tuesdays in London (there's a dancematrix evening in Enfield on Tuesdays, but that's a long way out for a lot of people) - Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be a bit of a dead time for milongas. The evening is run by Nikki of Dancetango. She's been running Tuesday evening milongas for ten years now, and they've been at Vino Latino's for the past 3 years, so she's developed a good crowd of regulars.
Getting there and parking was fine - but this was mid-January, and we're still snow-bound, so the traffic and parking conditions were abnormal, I'm not sure what it'd be like under normal conditions.
The entrance was a bit confusing - you needed to go through the hotel entrance and down, rather than the entrance on the side of the hotel.
The dance floor is small, but it's nicely laid-out - little side tables and chairs were a nice touch, and the bar makes it intimate. The lighting is quite good also, and I think this helps make for a good friendly atmosphere at the milonga.
I arrived too later for the class - Nikki was teaching the main class, and another teacher was giving some instructions to a couple of beginners to the side.
There were about a dozen people in the main class, and it seemed to be a lively group.
The floor / layout
Firstly, in the style of Craig Revel-Horwood, I'll start of with The Bad.
As I mentioned, it's a small venue, with a small dance floor, so there's lots of time spent turning and less time spent walking - when you can walk from one corner to the other in three steps, you literally don't have much time to get into your stride.
The floor is half-wood, half-tiled, so there's occasionally some difference in feel to the two halves; for example, later on in the evening, the heat made the tiled half more sticky, although this was rectified by judicious application of talc. Although there's no obvious problems stepping from one to the other, so that's good.
To get to the bar may require a bit of navigation also, as dancers go right past it.
Finally, there's a prominent pillar in the middle of the tiled section of the floor, which needs to be navigated around.
Having listed all these problems, one might assume that there would be real problems dancing there.
However, one would be wrongg to make such an assumption - I had a really good time, and there were very few floorcraft issues. God knows, floorcraft is far far worse at Negracha's for example (upstairs and downstairs), and that place is far bigger, with good floor and no obstacles.
So this shows that good floorcraft is all about the dancers, and has very little to do with the venue itself.
The dancers were generally considerate and reasonable, and the atmosphere was harmonious - more so than in many London milongas I've been to recently. In some ways, I think the small size of the venue, combined with the good level of lighting, enforces a more friendly attitude - it's difficult to be rude to people who are only a couple of feet away and can clearly be seen.
(I've noticed a similar, more "relaxed", atmosphere at open-air dancing, for that matter. People are just friendlier when there's more light, it seems.)
The music was done in traditional tandas; mostly Tango with the occasional milonga and vals tandas. If you've been to the dancetango Crypt nights, you'll probably know what to expect. I'd have liked the inclusion of a cortina, but that's just a personal preference.
I had a great night - nice people, nice venue, nice music.
David Bailey, 13th January 2010