London has been hit by a bout of tango fever. Not the stylized ballroom tango you might have seen on 'Strictly' but the sultry, subtle and seriously addictive Argentine tango, a dance that was once called 'a vertical expression of a horizontal desire'. There's a thriving and friendly scene in London, whether you're an expert or an absolute beginner. Try these places out for size…
A milonga is the tango equivalent of a ball, the social event where everyone gathers to dance. Friday night means Negracha, held in the atmospheric environs of Wild Court, playing traditional tunes and modern electro tango till 3am. Two floors of DJs and dancing, plus performances from top dancers on the circuit. The beginners' lessons beforehand will give you the basics but they can be a bit overcrowded. The club itself is a winner, though.
Liz Tomlin has been studying tango for 20 years and set up The Tango Club in 2000 to spread the word in London. Not only is she a fantastic teacher (and good at nurturing nervous beginners), her monthly Tango Tea event offers a chance to dance in the Tango Club's loft-like studio while stuffing your face with an amazing selection of delicious cakes. To give you energy for dancing, of course. Short courses for newbies run at weekends and there are Thursday night drop-in classes for more experienced dancers.
Tango @ the Light's resident instructor Naomi reckons she can teach a woman everything she needs to know about tango in 90 minutes. It's more complicated for men, unfortunately. Tuesday night group classes above Shoreditch's Light Bar are followed by a milonga. The same folks run a bigger milonga nearby on Saturdays.
Rojo y Negro is the place to buy your strappy tango shoes and learn what to do with them. Bianca teaches four nights a week, focusing on technique and tools for improvisation rather than set sequences or routines. Which is exactly what you'll need when it comes to taking the floor at the Thursday night milonga that takes place in a fancy Georgian house overlooking Hyde Park.
For everything else…
There are too many nights to mention, mostly offering a variation on the same theme of classes, practicas (informal practice sessions) and milongas. The main things to remember are good shoes, fresh breath and… relax!
Tango Fever Classes and practicas on Tuesdays in Exmouth Market and Thursdays in Hackney.
Tango Instinct Classes and social dancing on Wednesdays at Tito's restaurant in London Bridge.
Zero Hour A Wednesday night milonga in Tufnell Park, plus classes and workshops.
La Mariposa Leisurely Sunday afternoons in Balham.
Tango Federico Former flamenco dancer Federico teaches in Fulham, Chiswick, Dulwich and Covent Garden.