Monday, 28 January 2013

re-post Milonga el Arrabal

Eight o’clock, and we have parked down by the Tyne. It’s an eight minute walk up the steep slopes of Side to the Royal Station Hotel, but the snow has gone, to be replaced by early evening revellers who teeter along the pavements in heels higher than you would ever see in any milonga. The Royal Station Hotel is the imposing Victorian building adjacent to the Central Station. Built between 1847 and 1850 by John Dobson, it was in fact opened by Queen Victoria. Yes, it’s convenient for the train and Metro, but unfortunately the last return to Darlington is too early for a proper night out by rail at ‘Milonga el Arrabal’.

At the top of the stone staircase leading from Neville Street, turn left from the wide entrance hall – or simply follow the strains of tango music wafting from the Balmoral Suite. Here the open door reveals a fully panelled room with blocked floor. This is true nineteenth century splendour, with high plaster-work ceilings and wall-mounted lighting. Immediately you are back in the 'golden age' of tango.

Tonight is the inaugural evening for Miriam y Dante’s milonga here at the Royal Station Hotel. Arriving early, we comprise some of the first dancers, but are quickly joined by a host of great tangueros, some local, and others like us who have travelled to the event. Now with black suede and Comme il Fauts we test the floor – which offers a perfect balance of speed and safety. We chose to sit across the room and cabeceo, lifting the occasion and reminding us of afternoons at 'La Ideal' or 'Café Tortoni' in Buenos Aires.

Biagi, Di Sarli, Canaro, Fresedo, D’Arienzo – and a touch of Nuevo – something for all tastes. Miriam’s playlist is a Smörgåsbord of delight. And how special that, as organiser, she dances with her guests. 11.30 pm comes round too soon. We hear that month week, Dante has a surprise for his tangueros. We can hardly wait to return!