A trip to The Light, a milonga way above my pay-grade

The Light.jpg

If Tango Terra and Los Angelitos are the milongas that make me feel like a grown-up, The Light is the one that made me feel like a toddler! It was the highest level dancing I’ve ever seen in London. 

I danced exactly three tandas, all with the same friend. The rest of the time, I just watched …

It was, though, totally worth the visit. While I didn’t recognise much of what I was seeing, it wasn’t because it was complicated sequences. I think three factors were at play:

  1. Almost everyone was genuinely improvising, rather than executing figures
  2. The dancing was very collaborative, so not everything was led
  3. A lot of it was very subtle

Luis, the teacher from the Tango Space Thursday class, was there, and I watched him dance a truly incredible milonga tanda. It was just a joy to see. He was also super-sweet, asking if I knew anyone, and offering introductions. I told him I was happy just to watch. He’d set himself a goal for 2020 of having his students out dancing more in milongas, so he was genuinely happy to see me there.

There were two things that made me really happy to see. First, the ronda! Despite the fact that everyone was doing a lot of circular-ish things – though more on that in a moment – the ronda kept moving. When I was dancing, I was able to walk. I’ve never seen any ronda like that anywhere else in London. It wasn’t just that it was moving, it’s that it was moving smoothly and at a fair old pace!

Second, while the standard of the dancing was super-high, it was clear that it wasn’t anything to do with complex sequences. It was simple things, strung together incredibly well. There were few recognisable figures because people were playing with the basic elements. For example, I would see something like a rebound, into one backward ocho, straight into a the start of a sandwich which somehow became the second half of an ocho cortado, then … well, I couldn’t keep up, but it was all basic elements combined in unusual ways.

It was also notable that there were only one or two giromaniacs. In fact, I saw relatively few giros at all. Which is why I said circular-ish. I think this was one of the things that kept the ronda moving so briskly.

The floorcraft was beautiful. I was watching for more than an hour, and saw just one small incident in that time, despite a lot of very fast dancing on a very crowded floor. Which was why I felt perfectly comfortable dancing there despite everything going on around me – even if I did feel like I was a five-year-old with a colouring book surrounded by post-graduate students refining their dissertations. There was only one moment when I had to change course because someone did something unexpected (coming from the central area out into the ronda). 

I won’t be returning there any time soon, but it’s definitely one to bookmark for rather later in my tango journey. Several years later …

It does resolve one dilemma for me, though. I was torn between Tango Space drinks and Tango Terra after tomorrow’s class. I do really enjoy the drinks – it’s such a luxury to be able to catch up properly, without half an eye out for cabeceos and then one or both of you dashing off mid-sentence, and it is only once a month. But after tonight’s experience, I do rather urgently need to be back in an environment where I feel like a real dancer!

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