Paris Hideaways recommends tango at twilight along the bank of the River Seine

Published: 17th July 2009
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Slightly hunched over with a head of silver and a smile of gold, a diminutive, yet remarkably passionate tango instructor weave her way through the crowded dance space on the bank of the River Seine. She gently instructs only those interested, gracefully guiding men and women through their steps with equal ease. She exudes experience and provides a certain safety for tentative tango dancers. While a few are new, this is no tango class or tourist hot spot. These are (mostly) local Parisians gliding to tango tunes supplied by a boom box which sounds as if straight from an Argentine gramophone. Dancers of all ages lock arms and slide along, confidently nailing the intricate steps without missing a beat, and though scattered in age from budding teenagers to silver steppers, from rail-thin dance types to clunky chunky gentlemen, these dancers all have one thing in common: a love of tango.



The music goes on every night about half past 7 and continues deep into the night on the left bank of the Seine at the Quai Saint Bernard between the Sully and Austerlitz bridges. As dancers arrive in their shiny heels, stylish suit coats and swirly skirts, so do their admirers, who, with obligatory baguette, cheese, and wine in hand, sit down on the steps of the semi-circle facing the river, mixed in and mingling with those brave enough to grab a partner and tango the night away. No partner? No problem. The Parisians will extend their hand and ask you to dance if you look interested. If not, no pressure - just look more interested in your baguette and your status as bystander rather than partaker is clear, and you are free to dine, drink and watch the dance along the moonlit Seine.



"The dance evenings were created by an association called Paris danses en Seine, and has been in place for the last 10 years. In total, there are 12 associations and 22 organisers of the nightly event" explains Katia Provencher, Director of Paris Hideaways. "While the Tango dances have high attendance, there are several other dances as well on Quai Saint-Bernard, including 'La Salsa' with Cuban, Puerto Rican or Colombian varieties and 'Le Rock' which includes Rock-n-Roll, Lindy Hop and my personal favourite Swing dancing, as well as 'les danses bretonnes' which are traditional dances from Brittany, and others like Samba, Latin House, and even Brazilian Capoeira."



Romantic as this night may be, yes, those are loud drunken teenagers behind you. And yes, those giant lit-up tour boats with blaring screams of woo-hoos from increasingly inebriated North Americans can be distracting. Yet the moment the boat passes, those woo-hoos of the well-beaten tourist path growing ever fainter, the senses readjust to the soft pulse of the tango, and the romantic moment you share with Paris returns.



As the night continues, the floor fills up, and the lone tango instructor has less and less room to teach. Instead she lets the naturally forming dance pairs take the tango into their own hands. She peacefully beams and banters with friends on the sidelines, enjoying the evolution of the evening. Unlike most parks in Paris which close at sunset, Tino Rossi Park, named after the Corsican singer and movie star, is open all night and it is midnight before the first signs of slowing are seen. It is as if this were a one-time moment to be seized, some sort of special tango flash-mob, and for a visitor, there may only be time for one evening of romantic riverside Tango. But the boom box, the instructor and the crowd will gather again tomorrow, as tradition dictates, and the young dancers will age, and new converts will join, and the silver-haired instructor will teach them and there will continue to be tango on the Quai Saint-Bernard.



"Events like the nightly dancing along the Seine are what make Paris such a fantastic city, and missing out on these moments means missing the essence of the City of Light," continues Katia. "This is why we are currently running a series of articles on our blog looking at trends and events in the city from tango on the Seine to dinner clubs offering top cuisine in private homes, as well as exploring areas of Paris like Le Marais and Rue Montorgueil, and also top tips for travellers in Paris," she explains. Paris Hideaways is a vacation apartment rental company with over 160 apartments in Paris for short term or corporate rental, including 8 apartments within a ten minutes' walk from the Quai Saint-Bernard. Staying in a vacation apartment in Paris means experience the city like a local, and these tips, she says, help visitors experience as much of Paris as possible, rather than only visiting the main sights of Paris.



Visit www.parishideaways.wordpress.com for top tips and insider info on Paris from Paris Hideaways. For more information on dancing along the Seine, visit Parisinfo.com. Check out vacation apartment rentals at www.paris-hideaways.com or contact Katia Provencher at contact@paris-hideaways.com.


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