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ATC in Amsterdam April 2016

Tango in Amsterdam March 29-April 13

This is an account of our random impressions. This is the website we used for locations/times etc. http://milongas-in.com/milongas-in-europe.php?c=Netherlands&city=Amsterdam#Amsterdam

March 29 — Went to Los Locos milonga here in Amsterdam last night. 1st milonga in Amsterdam. We got there early for the practica 7:30-9:00. Small crowd were mostly beginners with some instructors. Also there were 4-5 extra guys hanging around talking.

They started the milonga on scheduled time (9:00). More folks started coming in about 9:30-10:00 and about 10:30 maxed out. Clearly folks knew each other with greetings etc. As the night went on, the level of dance was very high. I don’t think cabaceo is practiced that much here since they were already familiar with each other. Floor was excellent once it was danced on a while; slippery at first. Cool thing there was a flat bordered board with upside down bottle caps. People used it to ruff up their shoes. Music was most excellent. Very enjoyable night and had some great dances.

March 30 – Enjoyed the city and walked a ton sight seeing.   Got maps and Tram tickets for 2 days. Thinking we’ll take tonight off since there are only 2 dances 2 hours long and quite a distance from our apartment.

March 31 – After touristy stuff (canal boat tour and more walking) during the day. We headed to Santa Milongiuita. It was in an old church. The dance floor was slippery with powder on it from a class before the milonga? There was also the same type box/board with upside down bottle caps to ruff up your shoes. The room configuration had the dance floor and a side area where tables were and a few chairs by the bar. It was hard to see the dance floor back in the side area.

Good crowd there already when we got there 9:15 or so. We heard the milonga had “dried-up” while the DJ was in Buenos Aires for 4-5 months, but he has an extensive call list and called folks back. Once again there was a really good crowd with about 50-70 dancers; also very high quality dancing. Use of cabaceo was mixed with some just going up and asking. Cabaceos seemed to work if you walked up close but long range didn’t work at all. Clearly a lot of locals were just going up and asking. Since the seating was offset and behind the floor, you had to move around to see and be seen.

April1 — After some touristy stuff we are heading to Nijmegen on the train.

There’s a Practice Salon tonight at El Corte tonight. Next stop-

OMG El Corte!! 10:15 pm Class before the practica on turns. Coaching from Eric on line of dance and keeping it small. GREAT concepts on turns! Practica started 11:00ish (?). VERY VERY casual and FRIENDLY! NO cabeceos required but “walking” cabeceos worked well. People talking all over! Just go up and start a conversation! One great dance after another! OMG that French lady, I have to dance with her tomorrow. She was so easy to lead and so musical. So glad we came early on Friday to get oriented! SO MUUCH FUN! 3:00 am now have to get in bed for tomorrow!

April 2 — 10:30 Oh buddy getting started. We have to get breakfast before the class at 1:15. Best way to insure you are at the milongas the rest of the day is to attend the class. They only let 250-300 people in. The dance floor is only about 1000 square feet—Packed to say the least.

1:15 Class — “Space Lab”. Excellent! Eric talked about use of space on a crowded dance floor and modifying your dance to the conditions. Also understanding the connection with partners.

The milonga was basically, a continuation of Friday night. The “lounge” room had chair, stools, and couches. This main waiting room has a 12 foot hallway (couch on the side) to the dance floor and into the dance floor there’s a ramp.Elcortehalltodance

Very easy to strike-up a conversation and migrate to the dance floor. Saturday part of the “chained salon” weekend runs 3pm-3am. No real cortinas; at the request of Eric, the DJ will only pause the music for 10 seconds or so to break the Tandas. Otherwise there would be too much congestion passing to and from the floor.

Interestingly you can’t see the dancers from the lounge. Being new, I didn’t know the skill of the potential partner but I was never disappointed! There were many amazing dancers.

5-8 pm Dinner and rest. 8:30 back at the milonga/salon. Danced till after 2:00-2:30 am.

April 3 – Noon-3:00 pm (Sunday): The last salon in the “chain” at El Corte. There is another milonga tonight in Arnhem (about 30-40 minutes by train). Talked with some folks we originally met in New Zealand. It really is a small world-especially in tango. It’s an international crowd at El Corte, but most are from Germany, Holland, and England, with Germany being the biggest group.

On a side note, the Salons were FREE but the classes and wine/food was not. Classes were 15 Euros and you got a 10 or 20 euros card they mark off as you use it. ElcortecardSo we ended up spending about 150 euros over the weekend. It was still well worth it.

Actually, compared to other travel experiences with the high level of dance and friendliness we experienced, we would come back in a heart beat. We are thinking about week long events like “teachers week” or “international week”? It was a GREAT experience!

April 4 – We did touristy stuff. No Tango that we saw on the web site.

April 5 – We say goodbye to Jose. Touristy stuff today.

April 6 (Wednesday) – We went to a practica at Academia de Tango last night. Tram (4) ride then 10 minute walk. Should have brought my umbrella. We found it and a lesson was going on before the practica. Open dancing with a sacada sequence. We notice a few familiar locals. It was a very friendly crowd. Diane danced more than me. Dance level was good. Anyway we meet some more folks and will probably see them again. There are 2 more dances at this location during our visit. Good that we found it.

April 7 (Thursday) — We went to Santa Milongiuita milonga again. It’s a short walk from our apartment. There was a milonga lesson going on when we got there. Conditions were the same thing as last week with powder on the floor and a little slippery. Once it got danced on the floor got better. Level of dance is excellent here. Danced with one lady that just got back from BA. She was all about the dancing here in Amsterdam is better. There is merit to her statement but maybe she knows more folks and dances more here. Clearly some folks were only dancing with the people they knew.   Diane and I both danced a ton. It was a very enjoyable night.

They made announcements. So we found out about another milonga just starting Saturday. It’s not on the main website. Sometimes you just have to ask. The organizer said he would email us.  We’ll see? Point is to ask a local.

=== Let’s back up == We’ve noticed about 1/3 of the dancers just dance with their friends. For example, a young guy was cabeceoing a lady. She didn’t take him, she took a guy she dances a lot with. YEP, they looked good together but they probably know each other very well. Friendliness is not the point.   That is what they see as fun/enjoyable. We’ve seen this same dynamic everywhere we go. BUT YOU as a visitor need to respect their space BUT somehow insert yourself, meet people, dance and have fun. ==NOTE TO LADIES== There has been an English lady at most milongas and El Corte. Only seen her wear “lead” shoes. She is totally outstanding and creative as a follower. She dances almost NON-STOP. BUT it appears she enjoys leading as much as following. As a mater of fact she leads more than follows. If no leader around; she finds a lady to lead!! All the while she is having a BLAST!!!!

April 8 (Friday) — Going into tonight we thought there were 2 milongas to choose from. We went to Tangosalon De Plantage rather than the Academia de Tango one because they promised traditional music. After 2 Tram transfers and a little walking we found it in what looked like a regular apartment. But it was a studio. Not a huge space (thinking 1200 sq ft). The floor was a little slick at first. Must be the preferred floor? 30 minutes into it the place was PACKED! Best to keep dancing very tight. Floor etiquette was good if you stayed on the outside lane. Skill level was good. Music was good, with songs I’ve never heard? This was definitely a more mature crowd and very international. Danced with many ladies from the Hague(about 1 hour away by car), one from Brazil and a French lady.

BUT the big learning was that there are more milongas!! http://www.tangokalender.nl .  La Bruja on Sunday was highly recommended also. We’ll see?

Heading to Tinta Roja tonight. It’s a new one.

April 9 (Saturday) – Finding Tinta Roja wasn’t too bad. We are getting better at using Google Maps on the IPhone. The crowd was about 45-50 and impressive. They were mostly young, attractive, excellent dancers. A young couple from BA, Bruno Tombari and Rocio Lequio did a workshop just before.   The community here must be very healthy. We recognized about 10 people. One of the ladies said there were a ton of instructors here??? Out of the whole crowd I saw only 2 couples that were advanced beginner(ish). The rest were advanced.

Diane and I did well getting dances. As in any community they have to see you a few times and watch you dance!! For me one amazing dance after another with one Russian lady at Amazing X 2. It was amazing to dance with someone so playful and dead-on the music!! Lucas Malec did a fantastic job DJing.

I asked the organizer if they stuck to the 1am ending time? She said most of the time yes, so we left at 12:50ish. Catching a cab was worrisome initially because the milonga is in an out of the way spot, but we walked to a busy street near by and caught one in 5 minutes. 12 Euros back to the apartment.

BTW most of the time we traveled by TRAM. A week (7 day) ticket is 33 Euros. Google Maps will give you the best route to places. We are writing the route down and putting it in the IPhone.

Got 2 more recommendations for La Bruja Sunday (starts at 6pm). Planning on going to an earlier milonga on the way there (starts at 4pm).

April 10 (Sunday) – OK http://milongas-in.com website had a posting (obviously) wrong. They had Milonga Buen Amigo that started at 4:00. WRONG! We went=NO milonga. BIG TIP!! Ask a local to make sure! AND it had the WRONG address for La Bruja!!! http://www.tangokalender.nl had the right address!! That’s the site the locals refer to!! It’s part of the adventure and learning. Finally got there at 7:00 by cab. It was way north of central city. That led to another adventure of learning the bus connection to Tram lines (more later).

It’s in a very nice venue with (guessing) 1200 sq. ft. dance floor?   DJ was on a stage. About 8:30 the floor was PACKED! Mixed crowd of young and “mature” dancers and (once again) very high level of dance!! Music was excellent. We saw many familiar people. Same as other communities we’ve visited. Once they see you dance and danced with you, you fit in more. We received many greetings. However, clearly these weekend milongas attract dancers from farther out. Danced with one lady that drove 1.5 hours north!

There were more folks seated closer to stage. We moved to the back? Ahh, importance of seating! Many more folks were seated by the stage AND closer to the bar. There were many more people cruising around to get cabeceos and dances (more later).

About 10:45 we were trashed from all the walking/dancing and we needed to leave time for our next bus/tram adventure.

SUMMARY of Key learnings:

  • We rented an AirB&B apartment.
  • Getting around – We used the train from the airport to get to the (RAI) Tram station (light rail), and took a tram to the apartment. Jose paid for the train because his pin number worked on his chip credit card (ours didn’t!) We’ll take this up with the bank on return.  We paid cash (coin only) at the machine for our return train tickets (4 euros each).
  • You pay cash for Tram (GVB) passes bought on the tram (1 and 2 day options). The GVB pass works for trams, buses, and metro. Centraal station sells a 7 day tram pass for 33 euros, and you can use a charge card there. You scan your pass getting on and off the tram/bus/train. Tram routes were posted at the stops-àBUT “google maps” gives you both walking-tram-car instructions specific to your trip AND is really handy because it’s on your phone. We still had to ask clarifying directions sometimes when we got close to our destination–àSome of the milongas were in apartment buildings (Tinta Roja and Academia de Tango).
  • Seating at Milongas – We were not seated like BA but it’s better to sit closer to the bar for ladies (Los Locos- La Bruja) -à more foot traffic=more likely to be noticed.
  • Cabeceo – widely used but locals just went up to each other. El Corte – Cabeceo recommended but “don’t be shy” (one lady said). People sat by others and just started talking. It was a very causal atmosphere to meet people.
  • Level of dance HIGH! – Bring your A game! This is an international crowd. I danced with ladies from China, Brazil, New Zealand, Russia, Germany, England, etc. The whole 2 weeks I only had 2 beginners. Since I really didn’t know the crowd (and couldn’t see the floor at El Corte from the sitting area) that seemed amazing.
  • Dress – We are here in early April. BRING warm stuff/layers. Temperatures were between the low/mid 50s to low 60s during the day. Windy and cloudy at times. Put a raincoat and/or umbrella in your bag. You are walking a good bit and sometimes little showers pop up. Only had one day where it rained most of the time. Milongas were dressy casual with some ladies dressing up a bit more on the weekend milongas.
  • Traffic – There are multiple lanes for walking, bicycles and scooters, cars, trams and buses. DON’T look up!! Watch your path and look both ways before you cross! Especially don’t step in the bike lane at any time without looking (sometimes they look like sidewalks made with different bricks). Take away: It’s easy to be in the wrong place and possibly be run overà especially by the bikes!