« Tango Band Starter Kit | Main | Cocoa Tango Extravaganza »

December 10, 2008

Beginners Guide to the Loring Pasta Bar

We've been playing every Sunday night at the Loring Pasta Bar since April 2002. It is our tango home and we love having visitors. On a typical evening, we'll have about 50-80 dancers (a little fewer in Summer and on the Sundays that follow the monthly TSoM Milonga) Our LPB gig is a kinda of tango rarity: there are very few cities outside of Argentina that have a weekly milonga with live music. We're pretty sure that we've played more milongas than any band outside of Argentina.

Here are some tips to make Tango Night at the Loring Pasta Bar more enjoyable.

It's pretty easy to get to the LPB. It's at the corner of 14th. Avenue SE and 4th. Street SE in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis.

It's about 4 miles or a $10 cab ride from downtown Minneapolis hotels.

Dinkytown parking can be tricky. On-street parking is free on Sundays, but is pretty sparse. There are 2 lots within easy walking distance. There is a free lot that you enter at the corner of 13th. Ave and 5th. St. There is a pay lot on 5th. St. between 13th and 14th. They sometimes close early and leave passive-aggressive notes on your car reminding you to pay up later.

The waitstaff at the LPB are generally nice people, Sunday night is the only night where they have to serve tables while people dance in the middle of the floor. The waitstaff does a great job of keeping out of the way of dancers, but it's super-important to leave your big, flashy show-tango moves at the dance studio.

There is no cover charge to enter the LPB, but it is considered polite to at least buy a drink. No one will stop you if you don't buy anything, but it doesn't reflect well on the dance community. A venue can only pay a band if they make enough money on dinner and drinks to justify the expense. Uncountably many dance nights have been canceled all over the world due to dancers who only order a glass of tap water.

Dancers generally dress up for tango night. Maybe not as much as BsAs, but definitely more than a Tuesday practica at a strip mall. It can get quite warm in summer, so gentlemen way want to consider a lightweight shirt rather than a suit.

The fact that there are both diners and dancers can be a bit confusing for newcomers. If it's your first time, leaders may not know that you are there for dancing rather than pasta. Also, the Cabeceo is not generally used.

Just like in BsAs, the staff of the LPB have set aside several tables for dancers. If you're having dinner, tell the hostess and she'll give you a table near the action. If you're coming alone, buy yourself a drink at the bar and check out this radically over-simplified map. The tables in red are usually stocked with dancers. Dancers who are not having dinner usually congregate on stage right or by the grand staircase in the back. There is a bench between the 2 arches to the bar where dancers usually change their shoes: no need to use the restroom.

(Random Factoid: in 1959, Bob Dylan lived in an apartment that is now part of the LPB. The door to his apartment was recycled to become the door to the women's room.)

The dancers at the LPB are generally nice folks. If you say "hi" or introduce yourself as a newcomer, you will be assured of a dance. Mandrágora is always happy to have new dancers at the LPB. If it's your first time, say "hi" to one of us at break. We'd be happy to introduce you to some of the nice folks you might enjoy dancing with

We hope to see you soon!

Posted by bbarnes at December 10, 2008 5:06 PM