Apparently I was staying in a remote part of Hobart. The driver of the airport shuttle reluctantly agreed to drop me off, but said I’d have to get my return pick up from one of the hotels in the centre. We don’t normally come out this way. The tour guide who picked me up two days later said it was the first time in his career that he’d picked anyone up from that place. Even the owners didn’t want to stick around and I had to call them to find out how to get into my room.
It was dark, it was rainy and my backpack seemed to getting heavier by the second.
I followed the instructions I received via a text message and climbed up a kind of metal scaffolding to access my room which was on the top level.
Why had I chosen this place? Oh yes, because it was close to the milonga I was planning to go to on the night I arrived.
The Australian-Italian Club was only about 3 minutes walking distance away or I might not have had the courage to head out again. But I’m so glad I did. It more than made up for the slightly creepy accommodation.
By the next morning, when I went back to photograph the venue of the previous night, Hobart was showing her sunny side.
Unfortunately, I missed the two classes which preceded the milonga because of the whole accessing the accommodation drama. The beginners’ class was finishing up when I arrived and several students from the previous intermediate class were sitting at the tables which were set up on one side of the dance floor.
I was greeted by Jane, one of the organisers, who introduced me to some of the other dancers and immediately made me feel welcome. About 10-15 people stayed for the milonga. Women were in the majority, but all of them, myself included, still got plenty of dances. Hobartian tangueros, I was to learn, were both generous and gallant.
The music was mostly traditional, with some neotango, which I like listening to, although I hadn’t really had the opportunity to dance to it until now (see here for some examples of neotango tandas). I really like Otros Aires so it was exciting and also a little challenging to dance to their music.
Back at the table, I asked about the tango scene in Hobart. When I checked this site, I had thought that I would be able to get to three or four tango events during my one week stay, but not all of that information was up to date. Monday and Tuesdays are the days for classes, with one weekly and two monthly milongas (see below under practical information for details). Luckily, I was going to be around for one of the monthly milongas that Friday night.
View from the top of Mount Wellington
Brekkie in the garden of The Pollen Tea Room, Battery Point
When I entered the Mathers House on Friday night, my first thought was uh-oh, three men and about ten women. There were less people than usual, I was told, probably due to the school holidays.
But the tangueros ensured that no tanguera was sitting on the sidelines for too long as they valiantly danced nearly every single tanda. Soon they were reinforced by two more leaders. We had a great night and the dancing went on until around midnight.
Thank you to everyone at Tuesday and Friday’s milongas for the warm welcome and for letting me be part of your group. I had a great time and hope to see you the next time I come to Hobart!
What a pity I won’t be around for the Hobart encuentro 🙁 Lots of special events including workshops, a milonga in the Town Hall and demonstrations from visiting teachers. Hobart will definitely be on my itinerary for future trips to this part of the world, so perhaps I will make it to one of the future encuentros!
If you’re going to be in Hobart 23-25 October, you can check out the programme for the encuentro here.
Practical information and recommendations for further reading: The milonga at the Australian-Italian tango club takes place every week except on public holidays and is usually preceded by lessons starting at 7:15pm. The milonga starts at 8:30pm and goes until about 10:30pm. Entry for the milonga is 12 AUD (16 AUD if you also do the lessons). It’s about 20 minutes walking from the city centre.
The Friday milonga is organised monthly, entry costs 17 AUD for non members including snacks. Check the calendar for up to date information. Mathers House is just off Bathurst street, next to the Playhouse.
A practica is organised on Monday evenings from 7-9pm by Tango Milonguero Tasmania, who are also the organisers of the Hobart encuentro. Details of their events can be found on their website.
Unfortunately Moonlight Tango, which until recently organised milongas in Hobart, has closed down, but you can still access their website and I would recommend you have a look at Brian’s musings on White Ribbon day. A very thoughtful piece, relevant for any day of the year.
As always, comments on anything covered in this post are very welcome. I arrived back in the homeland yesterday afternoon, after a month of travelling, eight milongas, two practicas and seven hours of classes. Now that I have regular access to a functioning computer, I’ll be updating the blog in the coming days and weeks with photos and tales of my travels.
Click on subscribe if you don’t want to miss my upcoming posts on dancing tango in Melbourne and Singapore!