I was speaking to a tanguera about tango in Washington, DC, when she blurted out what a horrible time she had there. I tried to stick up for the Capitol City but it was no use; she was unwavering. As I think back on my last seven trips there I have to say that I can see how the tango scene there may have given her nightmares.
It is not easy finding good tango in the nation’s capital. A little bit of research can go a long way towards ensuring a successful dance experience; a cavalier attitude can be devastating. As insurance, I’m adding my two cents in the hopes that it comes up when you google tango Washington DC.
The next time you come to the town that Jefferson built, don’t take any chances. There is only one milonga in this burg that is always reliable. That is the Chevy Chase Ballroom milonga. It is a little unbalanced gender-wise, with too many leaders, but that may be because there are so many talented tangueras here and so much awful tango elsewhere.
People have been coming here for nearly twenty years. There must be a reason for that. These kind of events don’t happen just by coincidence. Somebody is doing something right. Maybe it’s the DJ because the music is always inspiring; maybe it’s the hostess who is friendly and accommodating of beginner leaders like I was the first time I came here four years ago. Who knows what the reason is that this place has such good tango but now you know where to go when you come.
My worst tango experience ever was in Rockville, MD, just outside the Beltway. It was really bad. It was so bad that I had to stay just to see how bad it could get. After thirty minutes of loud salsa music I couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave. It was an expensive lesson; it cost me $35 to find out how painfully bad a milonga could be. It was not really a milonga but the tango community’s webpagehttps://sites.google.com/site/dctangocalendar/, listed it as such.
There were two performances and a short play, all of which were very poorly executed. Before and after the show there was dancing but the after-show dancing was all salsa. The hostess tried in vain to get the DJ to play some tango as people began fleeing after a half hour of unrelentingly Latin melodies. When he was asked to stop, he barricaded himself in his booth and turned the music up louder shouting, “the rhythm is gonna get you!”
A very macabre scene indeed.
The next time you’re considering some tango in Washington, DC, make sure you plan ahead and remember: Chevy Chase Ballroom, the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month is a guaranteed good time. Also, don’t forget the consequences of poor research or you may find yourself having an unforgettable experience that, unfortunately, won’t be so good and may even traumatize you forever like my friend.