Hotels are made for two things sex and room service, although one or the other will always disappoint. Sometimes you ring housekeeping but the waiter just never comes. And other times,
a)he's there a lot quicker than you anticipated.
b)well....let's not go there
However, lately, I've been spending too much time taking the third way - hotel restaurants, - which provide all the fuss but none of the frisson. Sure, you can get away with a bit of just-by-accident, was that his leg or merely wishful thinking, under-table dancing in a restaurant, but that's about it. I was in the bowels of the Lanesborough the other night at a very fancy Mexican dinner where the guests sat so far apart we were almost corresponding. Then I spend fifteen minutes locked in the loo, and nobody noticed - or if they did they thought I'd made a successful bid for freedom and escaped across the border. Worse, the only other women wearing a brighter frock than mine was in full national costume.
So, overdressed and starved of human contact - what better time to trot off to the Waldorf for a spot of tango tea dancing....?
Why? Who the hell knows. I thought it would be sexy and full of rippling Argentinians doing the kind of leg work you wish men could/italics/ manage under the table. The rumour was that some professional dancers from Una Noche de Tango were turning up. though initially it all looked very staid - more Amersham than Argentina. Tango by way of Peter Jones. Step, step, step, soft furnishings, glide, hand-towels, haberdashery and dip, going down to ladies' separates.
The Waldorf's palm court is as glitzy and gorgeous as ever; you step out of theatre land right on to your very own film set, but unfortunately our cast was less Great Gatsby than got lost on way to a tarts and vicars party. The men wore blazers and Leslie Phillips cravats - while the women - mostly thin, bony, home counties types serious S&M footwear, wore sequins, feathers, fringes and off the shoulder frocks which just made them look cold.
Sex and chess, they say - well Tango Inglese as a spectator sport makes indoor bowls look erotic. Forget Latin lovers and think very serious synchronised dog walking. Isn't it supposed to be joyful, life affirming - full-body contact fun, even?
Still, there's always tea. Hotel teas should be delectably lovely. They should. There's a rule somewhere. You go with your mad aunt, she buys you your first bra in Marks & Spencer, takes you to Miss Selfridge and buys you a junior tart outfit and then on to tea somewhere posh where you chomp your way through china plates laden with doilies and assorted 'fancies'.
At the Waldorf, however, tea comes in huge white pots mildly resembling those things they give bedridden men in hospitals. It was already at the table when we arrived, rather strong and cooling fast, much like our enthusiasm. It then took several minutes to flag down one of the waiters for a pot of hot water, as they were all milling around like formation dancers, busily delivering little three tiered stands of scones and cream.
The sandwiches on the top tier were overly chilled and welded together in rows. The bread was dry and the fillings so anonymous that they may have be travelling under an assumed identity.
I had to ask someone what was in them. Roast beef, prawns,
smoked salmon, cucumber, and cheese and tomato. I think. Women can be thin and
characterless but still get paid lots of money for looking elegant - but not
sandwiches. They were sparse and skinny, intended for people with no appetites
The scones were fine, the accompanying cream, not clotted and not nearly copious enough. The cakes were a little more varied - an indifferent carrot cake, something that might have been white chocolate mouse but tasted slimily of sushi, a chocolate mousse, an apricot clafoutis and a glazed fruit who kept nipping outside with his incredibly glamorous girlfriend for a cigarette. I'd say that was the way to go.
Otherwise you can have a glass of champagne. Or two even
Are you going to dance, I asked Delphine. No, I can't, she replied, I'm too Canadian - I don't think we're allowed.
I wouldn't have minded a little smoochy moment, myself. I
haven't done anything that exciting with my legs for years, not since I had
tango lessons from a chest-high chap called Jose who kept telling me to pull my
Oh no, I can't, I said. I'm much too British.
I was offered a taxi dancer, but my navigation skills just weren't up to it. I thought I'd rather walk. Across the floor, out the door, down to One Aldwych and straight into the bar.
We couldn't last until the real raunchy Noche de Tango dancers arrived, but I've seen the show and know they are truly worth watching. I just hope they weren't too hungry.