Review: River Tango Ball

Date: Saturday 13th September 2008

Time 8pm - 3am

Location: Bloomsbury Square, London WC1

Review and comments:

I went to the Rivertango Saturday Ball, at Victoria House - it's a lovely venue right in the heart of London; near Negracha and the "Summer Welsh Centre" (Conway Hall). One of the joys of these events is finding new and gorgeous venues, lovely ones, located right in the centre of London.

Transport: Close to Holborn tube (5 mins walk). By car - yes, being in the centre of London as always means thet parking is an exciting experience, even late on a Saturday night - that said, we managed to find a space within 2 minutes' walk.

The venue itself is below ground, there's a main large hall and a lovely "long bar" corridor-like affair which runs parallel, with seating, leading to the bar proper. It's a bit weird at one end - looks like a kitchen - but it's a lovely idea; although I suspect it could be improved with lower lighting. It wasn't used much on the night, which was a shame, but I guess people wanted to see and be seen.

Image: The Long Bar

The bar itself is also lovely - spacious, and with gorgeous decor and seating. They were serving authentic Argentine food on the night. Prices were a bit extortionate though - £5 for a glass of wine, £2.50 for a diet Coke.

Image: The Bar

The main hall was large and well-decorated, and the floor was good for dancing.

The music was good, although the DJ (Felix Picherna) seemed to have a compulsion to say something enthusiastic in Spanish at the end of each track, which I could have done without personally - I prefer to finish off a track in silence. However, Nikki told us that the guy had been DJ-ing for 50 years, so one has to respect that level of experience.

There was a live band (Sexteto Milonguero), who were great - lively, professional, and enthusiastic. For me, it's a bit more challenging to dance to live music as it's less predictable, but that makes it more fun also; plus if I mess up I can always blame the band for general "being weird"-ness.

The standard of dancing was high, and everyone seemed quite friendly; I had some lovely dances.

Pretty much all the London Tango dancers seemed to be there - I've no idea as to numbers, but several hundred certainly. It shows that the River Tango weekender is going from strength to strength each year, and respect to the organisers for the hard work they put into the event.

Bad points

On the minus side, alas the floorcraft wasn't that wonderful - it got more and more crowded during the evening, compounded by the fact that people tended to stand around the floor a lot, so shrinking the space available to dance in. I'm not sure why the dynamics of the layouts didn't work to spread people out - as I said, there were very few people in the Long Bar and the main bar itself was never crowded - but sometimes this just happens.

I also thought that there were a few two many interruptions during the evening for announcements, demonstrations, change of music and so on - one ever 45 minutes it seemed. I'd personally have preferred some more uninterrpted dancing, but then I'm a simple soul. Finally on the "whinge list", it seemd that there was no attempt to gender-balance, so there were a lot of women over. Personally, if I were a woman and had paid £25, I'd want gender-balancing.

It was a good evening, and I enjoyed myself, but not a great one. Gender-balancing, less interruptions, and a bit better floor management would have made it great, for me.

Still recommended though.

More details:

- David Bailey