A tale of two milongas: Muy Lunes, with one success; and a perfect Champagne Tango Club

Given that Alessandra and I generally enjoy different milongas here, it may say something that we were both in agreement on the most recent additions to the list: Muy Lunes at La Comedia, and the Champagne Tango Club at El Beso.

The former was a nice atmosphere, and we both had a good sociable evening, but virtually none of the music appealed. The latter was a complete contrast music-wise, and was for me that rarest of tango species: an absolutely perfect milonga …

Muy Lunes at La Comedia

After a promising taste of Muy Martes, a visit to Muy Lunes seemed like a good idea – especially as it wasn’t held in a greenhouse, but instead at the same basement venue as La Comedia

The good news was that it was friendly and sociable. I did also chalk up one success during the evening. The bad news was that this was managing a Spanish sentence, after a local asked why I wasn’t dancing.

Esta música no es para mi

It wasn’t so much the non-stop rhythmical nature of it, but the fact that there was so little variety. I really wasn’t inspired to dance, and eventually had to force myself to dance to three okay-ish tandas (music-wise, not dancer-wise!). Alessandra wasn’t any more inspired by it than me. Also, the floorcraft on was best described as mixed: I saw a lot of collisions, and got bumped a couple of times myself.

Bruno’s group were there too, so there were a few familiar faces.

I decided I’d give it until 2am to see whether the music improved, but Alessandra – who stayed ’til the end – said the lyrical tandas only made a brief appearance at 3.30am.

I enjoyed socialising, so it wasn’t a wasted evening, but I did decide that the following day I’d return to more dependable ground!

Champagne Tango Club at El Beso

I hadn’t been to this particular milonga before, but an afternoon milonga at El Beso seemed a pretty good pointer to my kind of dance; Ale decided to try it too. She opted to do the 2pm class before the 3pm start, while I applied my usual strategy of skipping the first couple of hours in the hope of missing the more ploddy music.

My timing turned out to have been perfect! Alessandra said the first two hours had a lot of really boring music, while the time I was there had just a handful of tandas which didn’t inspire me to dance.

Bad tandas are pretty rare these days, which I attribute to a couple of things. First, I can adapt to most followers, so if my lead needs to be clearer, or my dance needs to be simpler, that’s no problem. Conversely, if I’m dancing with a much better follower than me, I have the ability now to create the space to give free reign to her own dance.

However, even the most amazing milongas will have at least one or two tandas that were no more than ok.

Except this afternoon. Literally every single tanda I had – and that was a lot – was beautiful! The music was wonderful; the followers were incredible, whether engaging in pure following or collaborative dance; I didn’t get a single refused cabeceo, let alone a tanda I wanted to dance but couldn’t; the floorcraft was impeccable … and I think in three hours I sat out exactly four tandas.

I literally cannot think of anything that could have improved the experience. Actually, that’s not quite true: faster delivery of my much-needed coffee would have been the one thing!

I also had another on-the-fly Spanish sentence success – for values of ‘sentence’ whose grammar and exact phrasing may be dubious but whose meaning was clear. We were dancing a Biagi tanda (I know!!!), and my follower thought the end of a phrase was the end of the song. She stiffened to prevent me moving. When she realised her mistake, we both laughed, and at the end of the song I managed this masterpiece:

Con Biagi, es no siempre claro, el extremo

I fully expect this to be the inscription on one of my upcoming statues in the city.

I also found that I shouldn’t be so quick to conclude that I can’t understand a Spanish sentence. There were a couple of occasions where a follower came out with a high-speed torrent of Spanish which I was initially sure meant nothing to me, but as I was about to apologise and say so, I realised that I’d recognised enough words to get the general idea of what was said.

The final tanda was the only thing it could have been on a perfect day: Pugliese. I danced this with Ale. I don’t usually enjoy open-embrace dancing, but with Alessandra it’s always fun to take full advantage of a near-empty floor and a super-active follower. Our dance mixed big and small, fast and slow. The perfect end to a perfect milonga.

I was absolutely buzzing by the end. One of the two hostesses, with whom I’d danced a couple of tandas, came over for a hug. She and Ale then engaged in a conversation which had me blushing despite my limited Spanish. She was clearly being very complimentary about my musicality, embrace, and care for her dance.

My feet were sore, but I still chose to take a 30-minute walk home just to burn off some of the adrenaline. I had a table booked for midnight at Parakultural, but cancelled it: after a truly perfect experience, nothing could have topped it, so I wanted to end the day’s dancing on that note.

That’s a milonga I will never forget.

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