Milonga Maalbeek – Brussels – A Review

Review of Milonga Maalbeek
De Maalbeek, Hoornstraat 97, rue du Cornet 1040 Etterbeek.
Metro Schuman, bus 36 & 80
9pm – 2 am

We arrived around 11pm. The space is a modern theatre, large, decent sound quality. Use of theatrical lighting, as in Cellule the night before, created atmosphere but made the place very hot. There is a bar in the entrance of the building, away from the milonga space inside the theatre. No food! We were told this is normally a busier milonga but on this particular evening there were 20 people max when we arrived and numbers only went down. Perhaps because the previous weekend was the Brussels tango festival, could be the local tanguera population was recovering.

The greeting at the entrance was polite and reserved. The presence of 6 or so ex-pat Argentineans made us feel more welcome, without them the night would have been really quite solemn. The music was classic dance-able tandas, though the downbeat cortinas did not help the low energy atmosphere. The music peaked around 12:30 with D’arienzo back to back with a tanda of fast milongas, seems to be in fashion in Brussels. Most of the time we were there there only 3 or 4 couples on the dancefloor at any point. At 1:30 the place was emptying out, we relied on the courtesy of a resident Argentine to call us a cab, again hailing a cab would have been impossible and the Metro (15 min walk away) was closed by then. This could potentially be a nice night out if there were more people, but for us it was rather disappointingly flat.

The following night (Sunday) we were in Paris. The downlow from Carlos’ cousin was that Sunday is not a good tango night, the Parisiennes get up for work early on Monday. She recommended a practica that ended at 10:30. We opted instead for dinner followed by “le Crazy Horse” cabaret – well worth a visit for the high standard of choreography, lighting, and performance.

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Milonga Cellule 133A – Brussels – Review

Hola!  Review of – MILONGA organised by CELLULE 133A (Vincent & François) Avenue Ducpétiaux 133A, 1060 Brussels (Saint-Gilles)

Close to the prison and Barrière de Saint Gilles, Bus and Tram stop Albert The milonga is advertised as starting at 9:30. We arrived at 11, passing through a pleasant cobbled mews passageway. The milonga was still fairly quiet. The organisers were not very friendly on the door but we were accompanied by a ‘rival’(?) organiser who is hosting our workshop in Brussels. Entry6,50 € . The space is very nice, old wood floor, atmospheric lighting ( theatre lights, which generated a lot of heat. no air conditioning or fans ).  By 11:30 there was a lively atmosphere but the dancefloor was never overcrowded. The sound system was of excellent quality, really well defined sound, lots of bass!  The DJ was dancer Luis Alberto Rojas, visiting from Buenos Aires, who did a fab job with a variety of eras of music, upbeat cortinas, which he kept running if dancers got into a groove.

For my taste he could have varied the energy levels a bit, there was a milonga tanda just after D’Arienzo, which was a bit much. At one point the sound started cutting out completely but after 10 minutes of tension things continued smoothly.

What most impressed me was the standard of dancing at this milonga, a good 10 couples on the floor at any one time were dancing with sophistication, musicality and chuzpah. Some tango nuevo, mainly salon, a few dancing pure milonguero. There was only one couple who looked like beginners, out of everyone present.  There were quite a number of Argentineans present, which was nice for my husband Carlos and I, as we dont’ speak French.  I was only asked to dance once by someone other than my husband, but people did seem to be mixing with each other, though it appeared to be a crowd who all knew each other.

There is no food whatsoever available at this milonga, which was a big drawback for me as I need to eat every few hours, and if you are someone who needs refueling to keep going to 4 am, you would be wise to bring some snacks!  At 1 am Carlos headed off to our host’s house (luckily nearby) to forage for snacks to bring back, there are also no corner stores or anything nearby.

The milonga has a refreshingly ‘party’ type atmosphere, beer was flowing and people were having fun. By 2 am the crowd had thinned out significantly, only 2 or 3 couples on the floor. We asked some guys at the bar for help with a taxi, they called one for us. It would have been difficult to hail a cab from outside I think. Hope that helps anyone making a trip to Brussels on a Friday.

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