Review: Milonga at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hipppodrome’s busy these days opening our eyes to world class theatre and this tango evening is the full monty, truly in a class of its own.

Milonga

Milonga

Fittingly it was a blastingly hot evening as this extravaganza sashayed into Brum, and I was relieved to see I wasn’t the only guy in the posh seats still wearing their shorts.

With tango, there is no story – this is at once its strength and its limitation. Life seems to be lived exclusively in nightclubs, and the content of the dance is – well, yes, you’ve guessed it – love, desire and good old S. E. X.

Its colours are a simple palette of black, white and red, with the emphasis on the black. This is not dance in the British tradition, and it’s not Swan Lake, it’s a late night dance party straight from the bars of Buenos Aires, and it’s hot, hot, hot, perfect for what may turn out to be one of the hottest Friday nights ever on record in good old Brum.

Interestingly we were held up on the way by the barriers for the first night of Birmingham’s Pride Festival, and there’s another thing this is not. Tango is Strictly Straight.

And this throws up another anomaly. Because one of the most intriguing items in the first half was a pas de trois between three very macho men. A more erudite colleague informs me this also is in the tango tradition – men waiting for girls in the brothels were encouraged to dance together to stop them wandering off before their choice was available, definitely not a black country tradition.

A marvellously versatile on-stage orchestra set the tone for the show that features performances through solo turns to whole ensemble set pieces. This tango is athletic, sinuous, sensuous, unexpected, dangerous-looking at times, often very beautiful in a courageous, devil-may-care way. And oh, yes, very, very sexy, perfect for a hot night.

This is life passionately lived, with a history, and, on this showing a great future.

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