Not Just Another Nights At Negracha's

November 30th 2008

Dance Date: Friday, 28th November 2008

Location: 4 Wild Court, London WC2B 4AU (map)

Cost: £10

Review and comments:

Couldn't resist a recap of last night at Negracha! It was different. Well, I've been frequenting enough to consider myself a "Milonguera" patron of Negracha. I've progressed. It now feels familiar, "people" recognise me and it's a 'warm' feeling.

Getting There.: This time, I didn't get a lift so had to find my way in. I've done it a couple of times before, so I thought, "shouldn't be too difficult". Well, it was probably the worst journey I've had to encounter, thanks to somebody or persons taking the decision to close down the road (A501 Marylebone Road) to one lane, that lane being the bus lane! So unless you were in a taxi or bus, no chance! I got suspicious when we were crawling on the A40, more or less 4 miles after Hanger Lane - the tailback was this far back! From this point, it took me over an hour to get to Holborn - in normal circumstances it ought to take about 15 minutes or so. It didn't end there. When I got to Bloomsbury, there were more road closures and diversions all over the place. The result was especially chaotic as the area is largely a one way street zone.

Following the mare, a word of advice, best to check travel information if you are driving in. Public transport has it's hiccups but those travelling by public means are better advised.

I'm really pleased to arrive and the chap at reception can see how pleased I am to be there. As I change into my CIF's, he tells me that there is a private party in the basement and as such it is out of bounds until midnight. I'm inclined to use their makeshift cloakroom. I dump my fleece, coat and UGG's in a corner and head up the stairs. I stick my head around and I see my friend - thank goodness! I'm not sure how it feels for the guys (or gals), but I still get a bit nervous about the "entering" into a milonga on my own. Much nicer to go with a friend or get met at the door. I may change in time, but for now, I'm still the new girl at school.

It feels awkward we can't go to 'our' table in the basement. In about half an hour, about midnight, the place starts to get busy. The party people from below are flocking upstairs. Ah, must be time for the presentation. Before I left the house, I did check the Negracha website (to get postcode), and couldn't help noticing the photo of the guest teacher for tonight. I did start of by saying that it was a different night! Well, yes, the picture (see below) was different,

they were different, the presentation was different. My regret for the night is that I didn't capture it on film. Omar and Monica OCAMPO were superb - I wouldn't describe it as a presentation. It was a show!

The show was in two parts. The first of which was extremely sensual, passionate, nothing like I've seen before - and the word again - different. They both danced in bare feet and used a couple of plaited sheets (black and red interwoven) as a prop. They bend, they sway, they speak the upsoken and told a story, their story was believable.

After their performance, Monica goes off stage and Omar is left to entertain us with a theatrical extravanganza. And it's not a dance solo - well, sort of. He uses 2 metal balls, each attached to the end of what looks like 2 pieces of sheet woven together. Each sheet on each hand and then he does all sorts of dangerous, boisterous swings with these. He propels the sheets and wraps in and out on each arm. Fully outstretched (the sheet), he controls the balls so they tap the floor (quite hard), not simultaneously, but one at a time. He does it creating a rythmetic beat. The beat picks up momentum and looking at the full image, it looks like helicopter wings - actually thinking about it, so does the sound. Its brave, cool and in a weird way, appealing. Yes, the word again, it's different!

He concludes, the crowd shouts "Bravo"! How appropriate.

The audience are not bothered about the dust that is left lingering in the room after that performance. Now, Negracha is a bit dirty I think, but I don't mean this in a nasty way. Its one of those things, the dirt adds to the authencity of the place. If you've ever been to an (English) Antique shop then you'll know what I mean. Dirt is good (apparantly), but I wasn't impressed, particularly as I had a cough and the dust aggrevated it. But the toilets could do with a bit more attention eh?

After this performance, we had a half hour break or so. The place was getting busier and busier. I manage to squeeze in a couple of dances - and before I know it, It's time for the second half of the 'show'. This time they Tango - in shoes. It was less different.

However, their second dance was something else. It was somewhat of a milonga, but not quite. I didn't get the Spanish banta before they commenced, so I'm only going on what I saw. It was technically difficult in most parts. There was one lift and drop in particular, that was jaw dropping.

Monica was different to most ladies I've seen in the Tango circuit. She was not your usual skinny girl. The woman was voluptous and so when she did what she did, it was unexpected. She was so flexible, agile and energetic, and all woman. It's as though she didn't have to "compromise" to be who she was. Yes, the word again, different! The crowd got their monies worth!

My only critique is that the show seems to be very well rehearsed - I mean, for example, their 2nd dance in Part 2, the music starts and they are not quite ready so they have to request the DJ to rewind. Nothing wrong with this at all, I'm just a fan of improvisation.

As soon as they finish, I go downstairs - as it's open to the public now. It must be about 12:45. So much for open from midnight then? Soon, its soon time to leave. But I could have stayed longer. I wasn't fatigued or upset considering, but in fairly high spirits and on a roll.

The journey back home was just as bad as the journey in. But despite, Tango tonight, albeit for just 2 hours, was a good experience. Very glad I went and grateful that my friend was there. I'm looking forward to next week's LGTN meeting on 5th Dec. Apparantly, Negracha will be celebrating their 4th Anniversary Party.

I think I'll have to blag a lift though .....

- Betty Smith, November 30th 2008