The Welsh Centre has been home to a milonga for many years, but its always had problems and the organisers moved to Conway Hall and renamed their club Carablanca.
Later Oktango decided to run a milonga and a year later, not everyone knows about the reopening. Which is a shame, its a large floor and the venue is nice.
These days, pre-milonga classes are taught by Luis Rodriguez who regularly teaches at South London Tango with Claire Loewe. The class was too early for me but I would recommend Luis. I’ve had many good dances with people from South London Tango so he must be doing something right.
The food buffet was served in two rounds, the first round finished pretty quickly and a little later in the evening they had a second delivery. I’m not sure if its always like that. I didn’t notice any mints but I always carry a pack of gum with me when I go dancing.
I’m not sure what the role of the dance hosts were. There were clearly more men that night. Some men sat there talking while I stood there watching the dancefloor for almost an hour before I started dancing. Eventually I realised who the dance hosts were (they had a white sticker with their names printed on it) and I think their role was to dance with beginners or students of Oktango (and each other).
I found the layout of the chairs a little unusual. Most of the chairs were where the food buffet was, near the entrance. But there were a couple of chairs oddly placed around the far side of the dancefloor which some couples took up.
My friend arrived a little after 9 and we started dancing. There were varying skill levels on the dancefloor and even though there was lots of space, some people still danced large and didn’t always flow. Some couples stayed close or in the centre trying out moves while most moved in the line of dance. There were no lanes as far as I could tell.
My greatest criticism for the night would be the music. When I first arrived, I thought they were playing Pugliese, but then it sounded a little more polished/modern so it was probably ColorTango. Milongas and vals were usually from the Golden age. But apart from that, all the other tangos seemed to be from Modern Orchestras. The whole night I did not hear a DiSarli, Canaro, Calo or Troilo (or any tango from Golden Age). I heard many familiar songs but it was always a more modern version of the song.
Are modern orchestras such as ColorTango still considered traditional music?
Don’t get me wrong, I like the modern orchestras but they all sound very similar to me (especially after a whole night). They’re all very polished and lack the character of the older orchestras. So towards the end of the night, I was looking forward to the neuvo tracks which offered a bit of variety.
I prefer my music arranged in tandas with cortinas. I think the music was arranged in tandas (but I couldn’t tell because the distinction between the modern orchestras aren’t strong enough to me) but there were certainly no cortinas. Feedback from the regulars is that they like the music at the Welsh Centre.
The Welsh Centre has a lot of potential but unless I go with someone I can dance with, I’m not sure I’d go again. The large space means that its a good venue to practise and the number of beginners there means that I can bring beginner friends along and not worry about them not finding anyone to dance with. The idea of dance hosts (male and female) is a good idea but I think you might need to take their classes before they ask you for a dance. In the end, for one night it was a good alternative to Negracha and Carablanca. These days, I still talk to people who don’t know there’s a milonga at the Welsh Centre. I think its worth help spreading the word so that everyone knows its open.