Archive for March, 2004

A Short Tango Trip – Gent and Nijmegen

Posted in Dance, Other on March 9th, 2004

I have been staying in Paris for more than 2 months, things are all settled down, so I think it is time to travel. As I knew there is a monthly milonga in El Corte, and I also wanted to visit my tango friends there, I took 2 days off from school, and used a long weekend to make a trip to Nijmegen.

Gent

GentIt takes around 5 to 6 hours to drive from Paris to Nijmegen For me it is quite long, so my friend and I decided to stop somewhere in the middle. Looking at the map and the guidebook, we chose Gent, a medium size city in Belgium (which is already regarded as kind of big city there). We did not expect to dance tango there at first, but as I found out on the internet that a weekly practica is hold every Friday, of course, we could not miss it.

It took us 3 hours to arrive at Gent. It was in the afternoon, and we walked around the old city centre. Even though the weather was not so good – it was cloudy all day long and cold, we enjoyed the scenery, especially along the canal.

Then in the evening, we went to the Friday practica – La Practica de Pol Van Assche, which is just outside the old city centre. It is on the first floor of a building. Outside the dance room is a bar and some seats and tables, where people can rest and have a drink. The dance floor is just big enough to receive Gent’s tango crowd. The room is longer but narrower than Helena May’s. At one end are few tables and seats, and at the other end a big tango drawing is hanging on the wall. That Friday there was around 60 to 70 people. Interestingly there were not many young dancers. The dance level was average but as usual you could find 1 or 2 very good leaders and followers. Honestly the rest of the crowd was dancing so so.

However, the music was very good, DJ Ben played nice series of milonga and vals as well as good classic tangos many of which are my cup of “chocolate”. like those from D’Arienzo, Tanturi and Pugliese. Many dancers loved the music he played, and some even told us that he is the best DJ in Gent. People were very friendly to us, I guess because there were not many foreigners visiting their practica. Both of us danced a lot that evening, which was quite unexpected, and at the end of the evening we were dead tired, but had a good time dancing in Gent.

Nijmegen – El Corte’s Monthly Chained Salon

Our next stop was Nijmegen. We wanted to participate in El Corte’s monthly chained salon, which is hold every 1st Saturday of the month from September to April. Nijmegen is the oldest city of Netherlands, there are many interesting places to visit. But every time I went there, I could only free very little time to walk around the city centre, and my last trip was no exception (Come on! I had to save energy to dance in the evening). However, as this time I stayed in a hotel (instead of in El Corte), I could take some pictures of the city from a higher point of view. By the way, Nijmegen is also a university city in Netherlands, there are a lot of students in the city. As bicycle is the most convenient means of transportation for them, you can find a lot of bicycles in the city. To give you an idea of the number of bicycles, look at the picture (note: it is just part of the parking place).

NijmegenTrainStation

We arrived at El Corte at around 7:30pm, and there were already a lot of people dancing (the milonga starts early at 5pm). The first thing I did of course was to say hello to the hosts Eric and Henry. I passed them greetings from common tango friends, and reconnected with those I have met there. It was really nice to be back! As it is mentioned on El Corte’s website, there were dancers from all parts of Europe, and the dance level of this milonga was good. The milonga was divided into 2 sessions. The first one was from 5pm to midnight, people danced in the dance hall, and the rest of the place was dedicated to resting and chatting. Then after midnight, there was an hour break. During this hour, people who wanted to sleep prepared their sleeping bags in the dance hall. Those who wanted to continue dancing helped to move the furniture from the resting area to the dancing hall. They could continue dancing in the living room till early in the morning. The hosts also prepared hot soup for the dancers. After several hours of dancing, this is very nice especially when you consider the cold Dutch weather. The second session of the milonga started at 1am and finished at 5am. I stayed only until around 1am, but was still able to capture a little bit of the mood of the second half of the night with my camera.

I enjoyed myself very much that evening, I am happy I could dance and chat with some old and new faces. Also all the dancers you find in El Corte are all tango addicts! You know, this is the thing I really like.