La Gamba Sinistra: italian tango

I just spent a wonderful five days on a tango course in Italy. Life at the Abano Ritz (Abano Terme, near Venice) is quite enjoyable, and the teachers Marisa & Oliver and Birkit & Muzaffer were excellent.

Since it was my first tango holiday abroad, I did learn quite a lot:

  • I’m not nearly as good in milonga (the simple style you dance in the often crowded tango salons) as I want to be. Being able to do two ganchos one after the other with a nifty little adorno in between is nice, but I enjoyed the simple milonga lessons the most (variations on the paso basico, …)
  • As corny as “Holistic Holiday dedicated to Argentine Tango, Friendship and the Joy of Living” (cf may sound, that was exactly was it was. The Italian food and drink, the hot water swimming pool, the sun, the foot massages, and that combined with tango dancing. Really a great way to spend a holiday.
  • There’s more music you can tango on than the traditional Buenos Aires Gardel and Piazzolla tunes: I of course knew The Gotan Project, but apparently I should also check out Bajo Fondo Tango Club and Carlos Libedinsky (via You can also dance to more western music like Grace Jones, Sting and Van Morrison (as can be found on
  • Experienced tango dancers sure know their tango music: song titles, orchestra styles, voices of singers. The knowledge I gather while creating the Tango Musica podcast will come in handy.
  • Life ain’t fair. Men’s tango shoes can have heels up to 35mm (1.38″). Girls can go up to 80mm (3.14″). Raise that chin!
  • The prejudices about Italians are largely based on the truth. As a man, I of course have no experience with the Italian macho seduction skills, but both men and women seem to have a natural tendency towards careless arrogance.

    As far as geography goes, you can never know too much about Italy. If you meet an Italian in Japan and ask where he’s from, he won’t say he’s from Italy. Instead he’ll name some obscure Italian city, assuming you know the ins and outs of his country.


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