A Travellerspoint blog

What to do in Sydney when you're not dancing tango

History, drama, people watching, a little shopping, a lot of walking and some really good scones. Just don't go to The Rocks on a Tuesday.

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Enjoy the view

I know this is an obvious one, but I'm pretty sure that no matter how times you visit Sydney, you'll always come back here. Whether you see it from Circular Quay, from the water, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, on a sunny or a cloudy day, this really is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world...

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There's a great view of the harbour and the Sydney Opera House from the bridge and if you don't want to invest 200 AUD or so doing the Bridge Climb, you can walk across on the pedestrian path for free. Access it from the south entrance via the steps on Cumberland Street (very close to Circular Quay and the Rocks). Or you can enter from the northern side at Milsons Point. Another option is the Pylon Lookout which costs 13 AUD and unlike the Bridge Climb, you can bring your own camera with you.

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Head for the beach

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As mentioned in a previous post, the weather wasn't great when I was in Sydney, but there were three sunny days and on two of them, I went to the beach. The first day I took the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. After walking along Manly beach I did the Cabbage Tree Bay & Shelly Beach Walk. It's only about 15 minutes walking and there are some lovely views. Shelly Beach is quite secluded and so is a quieter alternative to Manly. There are little sculptures along the way of the local marine life...

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and scuba divers ....

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If you prefer to do a longer walk, you can find more information about walks from Manly here. My other beach day was spent at Collins Flat Beach in the Sydney Harbour National Park, which I mentioned in the previous post on Sydney. I think this might be my second favourite beach in the whole world. So far.

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Go for a walk around The Rocks

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First: get a feel for the place, walk along narrow lanes, on cobbled streets, in the oldest part of Sydney ...

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If you want to know more about the history of this neighbourhood, The Rocks Discovery Museum is your next stop. Four permanent exhibitions tell the story of this area through a combination of visual, interactive and multimedia exhibits from pre-European Settlement to the present day. Entrance is free.

If museums aren't your thing, you can download the free "Walking the Rocks App" on itunes or Google Play. There is also a free guided walk of the Rocks every evening at 6pm which is run by I'm Free Walking Tours.

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If you're in Sydney at the weekend, you should check out The Rocks Markets. They run from 10 - 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays with a foodie market on Fridays. Great for souvenir hunting, browsing or grabbing a bite to eat...

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... speaking of which ....

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... for the best scones in Sydney, head for the Tea Cosy on George Street. You deserve it after all that walking.
And this is why you don't want to go to the Rocks on a Tuesday, folks: the Tea Cosy is not open! Now, aren't you glad you read this post before your trip?



Spend a day (or night) in Newtown

The day I went to Newtown it was pouring down. All day. Without stopping. That’s probably why I took very few photos that day.

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Instead, I dodged in and out of the quirky shops which line King Street, the most exciting shopping street in Sydney. Apart from the shopping there are loads of cafés and restaurants along, as well as one of the best second hand bookshops I have ever been in, Goulds Book Archade. It’s open seven days a week at least until 9pm (10:30pm Thursday - Saturday) and it's the perfect place for browsing; you can find a mind boggling range of genres from cooking to espionage. As you might expect there is also a wide selection of Australian literature, history and travel books. I picked up a copy of Secret Tasmania to prepare for the next stage of my trip (find out in the next post how I got on!).

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See a show

Although the Sydney Opera House might be the first option that comes to mind as a visitor to Sydney and I'm not saying it's a bad one, but tickets can be quite pricey and there is so much to choose from when it comes to live performances in Sydney. During my stay I went to see Britannia Waves the Rules at the New Theatre in Newtown.
This is a powerful and moving play about a young man who thinks he has finally found a place he belongs when he joins the army and the effect the conflict has on him when he returns from Afghanistan.

If you are looking for other ideas for theatre or other performances while in Sydney, check out Sport for Jove Theatre Company, which also has outdoor performances in summertime and Bangarra, an indigenous contemporary dance company.



Continue exploring...

Other Sydney neighbourhoods you might like to visit: Leichhardt, Balmain and Glebe.

I would also recommend a trip to the Blue Mountains if you have time and the weather is good. It's only a two hour train ride from Sydney, so theoretically it's possible to go a day trip, but it really is worth staying overnight (at least). I wasn't able to go there this time, but the last time I was in Sydney I spent three amazing days in and around Katoomba ...

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More ideas for short (three hours or less) trips from Sydney have a look at these posts from Australian based travel bloggers here and here.


What are your favourite things to do in Sydney? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Missed my post on dancing tango in Sydney? You can read it here

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Posted by tangueratravels 01:53 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney beach australia sydney_harbour manly newtown shelly the_rocks_market northern_beaches Comments (0)

From the Top End to the Red Centre

What to do in, around and a little further afield from Darwin when you’re not dancing tango.

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Highlights of a one week trip from Darwin to Uluru.

1. A walk along the waterfront

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Within walking distance of Darwin city centre is Bicentennial Park and it's worthwhile to visit, not just for the view of Darwin Harbour, but if you have some time, follow the WWII walking trail to learn about the city's recent history. Located within the park are the Cenotaph memorial, which commemorates Australians who have served in conflicts, the Civilian Memorial, which is dedicated to the civilians who lost their lives during the bombing of Darwin during the second world war and the USS Peary Memorial, a US navel ship which was bombed and sunk during the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. The memorial consists of one of the ship's guns, which points towards where the ship went down, and where the wreck still lies.

2. Kidnapped by aliens

When I was in Darwin, I kept coming across this kind of headline on display stands.

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Seems to be a bit of an issue in and around Darwin, with nurses, farmers and psychologists being particularly targeted. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

3. Kakadu National Park

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Kakadu National Park is located about 150 km from Darwin and is Australia’s largest national park, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site, covering an area of almost 20,000 km². It’s also home to about a tenth of the Northern Territory’s crocodile population, as well as a huge variety of bird and plant species, not to mention its collection of rock art, some of it as old as 20,000 years.

We joined a day trip from Darwin and started our day with a look around the Bark Hut, a touristy roadhouse/campsite/bar on the Arnhem Highway. A quick toasty, a few snaps of the water buffalo and it was back on the bus, next stop Kakadu.

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When we arrived, we had a guided tour of some of the rock art at the Anbangbang gallery in Nourlangie, which gives a whole new meaning to the term “modern art”. The paintings here were done within the last 1,000 years …

Next was a cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong, where there were plenty of close encounters with some of the crocs in residence…

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... the park's birds...

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and opportunities for admiring the landscapes from the boat...

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We spent about an hour on the water before finishing our day at the Warradjan Cultural Centre. The displays were developed by the traditional owners of Kakadu and give an insight into Aboriginal culture and history, from personal stories to accounts of hunting techniques according to the various seasons.

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Calendar outside the Centre which shows the six seasons at Kakadu

Kakadu park is open all year round, but parts of it may be closed depending on the season. For more information, including suggested itineraries depending on the season have a look at their website.

4. Taking the Ghan: some tips


I have always loved travelling by train and I thought, what better way to get a feeling for the vast expanse of the outback than crossing it by train? And especially this train.

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The Ghan takes its name from the cameleers who came from a part of the world which today covers parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. They arrived in Australia at the end of the 19th century and accompanied expeditions into the centre of the country, transporting materials and supplies on their camels which became known as "ships of the desert". They were instrumental in facilitating infrastructural projects, such as the construction of the trans Australian railway and the overland telegraph. The original Ghan line ran for the last time in 1980 and a new one was built to avoid the flood plains upon which the original line had been built. Although it was planned from the start for the line to go up to the Northern Territory, the connection to Darwin was not operational until early 2004. If you are interested in reading more about the Ghan's history, have a look here and here.

Obviously, this is not the most efficient way of crossing the country. If you do the full journey (Darwin-Adelaide or vice-versa), it will take you around 54 hours and is probably going to cost around 900 AUD (and that's in the "red service", ie seat only).

In our case, we wanted to spend a few days in Uluru, so we took the Ghan from Darwin to Alice Springs (25 hours). It stopped in Katherine, where we had about 4 hours (see below). The train also stops in Alice Springs again for about 4 hours, but this is obviously not enough if you want to expore Uluru. There is a stop between Alice Springs and Adelaide too, but this seems to vary depending on the time. See website for further details.

A few things to bear in mind if you are planning a trip on the Ghan:

- it runs once or twice a week depending in the season, so if you plan to visit Uluru (about 4-5 hours driving from Alice Springs) and want to continue your journey on the Ghan afterwards you may need to wait for a week for the next train. See the timetable here.

- the "cheaper" cabins (gold service) tend to sell out several months in advance

- there are discounts for students and backpackers. In order to be eligible for a backpacker discount, you need to have a membership card from a major recognised backpacker organisation. I bought the MAD card from Nomads World as it was the cheapest at the time we were booking (19 AUD), which meant a saving of 171 AUD for a seat in Red Service.

- Tickets are also cheaper if you book 6 months in advance (this is what is meant by the "advance purchase" rate). For further information on fares have a look here

If you do decide to go for the Red Service and want an idea of what to expect:

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As you can see, there is a bit more leg room than usual for a train. The chairs swivel around so if you are a group of 4 you can still sit together. It is also possible to recline the seats quite a bit without disturbing the person behind. There is a dining carriage with a small shop which sells hot drinks, snacks and a small selection of warm meals, as well as souvenirs. The toilet and shower are at the end of the carriage.

One word of warning though: despite other reports I read beforehand, they do not switch off the air conditioning during the night, in fact I had the impression that they actually turned it up! As a result, I was freezing and didn't sleep a wink. And this despite wearing jeans, a sweater, a scarf and a fleece jacket.

Nevertheless I would say red service is OK if you're just staying one night on the Ghan. If you're doing the full journey, go for a cabin.

5. Katherine

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On our trip from Darwin to Alice Springs, the Ghan stopped for a few hours in Katherine. There were a few different activities to choose from (all of these can be booked directly with staff on the Ghan) including a helicopter flight over the Katherine gorge, a cruise on the river Katherine, painting classes or being dropped off at the Nitmiluk National Park for a walk around by the river. The park is about 30 km north east of Katherine and the northern part of it actually borders with Kakadu. We went for this option and a bus took us from Katherine station to the park's visitor centre. From there it was a short walk to the river. It was beautiful down there and the trees provided some relief from the sun (yes, hard to believe I once needed "relief" from the sun as I write these lines on a chilly winter's night!)

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Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the visitor's centre to catch the bus back to the Ghan.

Whether or not you are taking the Ghan, Katherine is a great place to visit if you are visiting the Northern Territory. It's about 3 hours driving from Darwin. If you need some ideas for what to do there have a look here or on the Nilmiluk National Park's website.

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6. Alice Springs

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So after 25 hours and not a wink of sleep, we arrived in Alice Springs. Despite the fact that I was more than a little narky due to sleep deprivation, I actually quite liked Alice Springs. What stuck out was: a nice café on Todd Street Mall that didn't mind us camping out for hours typing on our computers (little did I know these would be my last hours with my beloved netbook), a quirky mural on the wall of the Lone Dingo, beautiful flowers everywhere and the royal flying doctor's museum, which gives an insight into the history of the organisation which has been providing medical services in the outback for almost ninety years. There is a cafe and art gallery which are located within the original radio station house. We found ourselves outside this museum by chance when we were walking around the town. It's well worth a visit. We finished the day at the monthly night market.

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7. Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Days start early when you're travelling in the Red Centre and we left Alice Springs for Uluru at 6am. We joined a tour with Emu Run Experience and had two guides for the day, who were friendly, entertaining and extremely knowledgeable. One of our first stops along the way was Mount Connor, also known as "Fool-uru" because of numerous tourists mistaking it for Uluru. They're about the same size, but Mount Connor has a very flat top.

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Nearby we climbed a sand dune for a view of Lake Amadeus, the largest salt lake in the Northern Territory.

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From there we travelled on to Kata Tjuta, a rock formation, made up of thirty six domes which are thought to be around 500 million years old. There were very few people around and as our group walked along the walkway through two of the domes, I was stopping to take photos and so was soon was trailing behind. I could see no one around me and there was a sense of calm and peace that I did not experience at Uluru later that afternoon.

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Still, no matter how many photos you have seen of the world's largest monolith, nothing can prepare you for what it feel like when you actually
see it for the first time. The way its colours change depending on the time of day and from what side you are looking at it. The ridges and many caves which you can see the closer you get. And of course the feeling that no matter how many photos you take you can never do it justice. Not that I let that stop me trying, of course.

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Unfortunately, it is still possible to climb Uluru, but the traditional owners of the land ask visitors not to climb, as it is offensive to their laws and culture. The climb is also dangerous (people have died climbing Uluru) and the traditional owners feel responsible for accidents which occur on their land. Our guide told us that if the number of people who climb Uluru ever reaches less than twenty percent of the number of visitors to the park, they will close the climb. However, it seems that it is not as simple as that and the climb is likely to remain open for the time being. Until then it is up to each of us individual travellers to show respect by not climbing Uluru.

8. Kings Canyon

The next morning we set off for Kings Canyon, in Watarrka National Park, which is about four hours driving from Uluru. We opted for the Creek Walk (about 2 km) along the floor of the Canyon and ended at a viewing platform with nice views of the surrounding canyon walls. There are other, more challenging walks at Kings Canyon, the most famous being the Rim Walk. For more information on this and other walks in the area have a look at this guide.

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On the way back we stopped at Curtin Springs, a privately owned cattle station which also offer accommodation and camping facilities. If you are interested in getting closer to Mount Connor or exploring the salt lake landscapes I mention above this is a good place to base yourself as Mount Connor is in fact located on this privately owned land.

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And then it was back to Yulara for our last night in the outback. Yulara or the Ayer's Rock Resort is the main hub for accommodation at Uluru. The complex has several hotels, a hostel and a camping site, as well as a supermarket, restaurants and bars. Prices for everything from food to wifi tend to be fairly high and budget accommodation is limited, so book in advance, particularly if you are travelling there during the high season. We stayed at the Outback Pioneer Lodge which was rather basic but fine for a couple of days. For breakfast we went to the Kulata Academy Café at the Town Square which also does lunch and snacks at very reasonable prices. The café is staffed by trainees from the Ayers Rock Resort's National Indigenous Training Academy.

One of the best moments of this trip was seeing the sunrise and sunset from the top of a sand dune close to where we were staying. I'm not normally an early bird, but this was definitely worth the loss of sleep...

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Have you been to the Northern Territory or do you plan to go there on holiday? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Missed my post on dancing tango in Darwin? You can find it here

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Posted by tangueratravels 02:09 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes desert uluru australia outback kata_tjuta darwin kakadu katherine alice_springs the_ghan kings_canyon northern_territory central_australia Comments (0)

What to do in Bangkok when you're not dancing tango

It was my first time in Bangkok and I had 48 hours. My only preparation was booking my accommodation and finding out where I could dance tango while I was there. But I did find 6 non-tango things to do ...

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1. Avoid the tuk tuk temple tour scam (or not)

Well, I'm not the only one who has fallen for this particular scam and I suppose anyone who has been to Bangkok has at least heard of it.

You are heading to visit a well known tourist attraction (Grand Palace, in my case), perhaps you are not quite sure if you are going in the right direction and then a friendly guy asks if he can help...

Are you looking for the Grand Palace?

Yes, you answer.
Alas, he responds, it's closed this morning, only Thai people can enter as there is a religious ceremony going on.

But luckily for you, he has another idea. What about a trip in a tuk tuk to see the temple of the standing Buddha? And then a bit of souvenir shopping?

At this stage I was thinking this was probably not the best idea. It did sound a bit scammish. One of the biggest attractions in Bangkok closed on a Friday morning - really? On the other hand, I did want a ride in a tuk tuk. And the guy had promised to bring me back to the spot from which we were departing within two hours and that I would only have to pay him when we returned.

And so off we went ...

We went to the temple of the standing Buddha first and he waited for me outside while I walked around. There weren't many people and I found it quiet and peaceful.

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From there the shopping or let's say the gentle encouragement to shop began, starting with a tailor shop before we moved on to a jewellery shop. I bought a scarf in the first shop , after managing to convince a very persistent (but polite) salesman that I really didn't need a 7000 Baht suit. I didn't buy anything in the second shop and then we headed back to the Grand Palace. As you can read in the article via the first link I mention above, some people have had really negative experiences with this scam. I count myself lucky that I had a polite and friendly driver who was true to his word in bringing me back to where we started within two hours and charging me exactly the price we had agreed on (30 Baht).

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Painting within the Grand Palace complex

2. See the temples during off peak times

So by the time I got to the Grand Palace it was around lunch time and it was PACKED. It was also pouring rain. Which meant I almost wanted to leave as soon as I got in. As I looked around for orientation, I noticed that I was standing next to a meeting point from which free tours were departing. There was one in English departing within a couple of minutes and so I decided to join that. Joining one of these tours does however mean that you can't retrace your footsteps and see certain parts of the Palace grounds once the tour finishes. If I was doing this again I would go there early in the morning and spend a few hours walking around myself to get a feel for the place, maybe join a tour after that.

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After leaving the Grand Palace, it was still only around 3pm and so I decided to visit the nearby Wat Po temple complex to see the reclining Buddha statute. Perhaps that was why there was hardly anyone around but after the crowds of the Grand Palace, this was an oasis of tranquility. Most people who were there seemed to be only interested in seeing the reclining Buddha, which is really impressive. But it is also worthwhile to take some time to walk around the beautiful grounds. If you have time, you can get a massage at the traditional Thai massage school which is also located within the temple complex.

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3. Go shopping

If you have just arrived and you're jetlagged but it's too early to go to sleep, Terminal 21 is a fun place to wander around. As they say themselves, the whole world is here. Each floor is named after a place, such as "Rome", "Paris", or simply "Caribbean".

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Rome, as seen in Bangkok

4.Visit the markets

Unfortunately I didn't have time for the night markets during this short trip, but I did get to Pak Klong Talad, the city's biggest flower market. It is in the old part of the city and not far from the temples I mentioned above, so can be easily combined in a day trip and well worth the visit. For more information and beautiful photos have a look at this blog.

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5. See Bangkok by boat

The best way to get to Grand Palace, Wat Po and Wat Arun is by boat along the Chao Phyra river. If you don't have time or energy to visit all the temples you can still see some of them from the water. And a trip on the river is worth it in itself. I don't normally like to use this phrase, but I suppose if I did, I would call this a "must do" for Bangkok. Find out more about Bangkok by boat here.

Traffic on the Chao Phyra river

6. Look for quiet places

Although I love the buzz of being in a big city, there comes a point when I need some quiet time for myself. So I was so happy when by chance I came across Benjakitti Park, a short walk from Asok BTS station. Walking over to the far side of the park, the sound of the traffic becomes a distant hum. I saw barely 10 people in the two hours I spent there on Saturday morning before I had to catch my flight. You can rent bikes and the park has a separate cycling line. You can also rent swan boats for a trip on the lake in the centre of the park.

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Forty eight hours were definitely not enough to see Bangkok, but they were enough to convince that I need to come back here again one day. But for now, it was time to catch my flight to Darwin...

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Do you have any tips for what to do (or not) in Bangkok? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Missed my post on dancing tango in Bangkok? You can read it here.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some photos and stories of the non tango part of my recent trip through Australia. Watch out for the next post on what to do in and around Darwin when you're not dancing tango!

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Posted by tangueratravels 13:14 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples shopping thailand bangkok sightseeing stopover looking_for_quiet_places Comments (0)

A Tale of Two Milongas

Two days and two nights at the Singapore International Tango Festival 2015

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I'd been travelling for a month, during which I'd been to eight tango events, all of them by myself, but for some reason I was nervous about Singapore. This was to be my first time at a tango festival and I didn't know anyone attending. I didn't even know anyone in Singapore. It was my first time here. When planning my trip a few months ago, I was researching possible stopovers on my way back from Australia. Singapore seemed an obvious choice. Especially when I discovered that Asia's largest tango festival took place there. And so, here I was.

The welcome milonga was due to start three hours after I landed and I hadn't slept a wink on the flight. It would have been easy to make an excuse for not going, but as readers who have followed my journey from the start will know, you're never too tired to tango.

Anyway, I had packed my psychedelically coloured dress especially in honour of the theme of the opening night. It would be just rude not to go.

The welcome milonga was held at Le Danz in Queen's Street, which was also the main venue for the SITF and where some of the classes took place. There was hardly anyone there when I arrived as the doors had just opened.

There were tables and chairs set up on one side of the room, and several rows of chairs on opposite sides of the dance floor. The front rows on either side, I was told, were reserved for men and ladies without dancing partners.

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The reason we were to sit in the front row was to facilitate the cabeceo, i.e. the silent, long-distance, almost telepathic method of communication for inviting and accepting to dance, which is an integral part of tango etiquette. If you want to dance at a milonga, chances are, you'll need to master the cabeceo. As with most things tango, I'm still learning this art form... Here is an example of a successful cabeceo, in case you don't know what I'm talking about.

Meanwhile, back in Singapore, the dance floor is filling up and I'm still on my chair.

For a while, I watch in fascination, later in mild despair, as cabeceos are launched, received and accepted seemingly from all corners of the room, sometimes even from across the crowded dance floor, mid-tanda. Like I said, it's partially telepathic.

And so I sat and watched the dancing wondering if I was going to keep my observer status for the entire festival. It was comfortable in a way, because the more time passed, the more daunting the idea of getting on to the dance floor felt.

I danced two tandas during the whole evening, one as a result of a cabeceo, in the other a guy simply walked up to me and asked me to dance, which was fine for me. But I didn't feel confident about my dancing at all. I was discovering that perhaps one is sometimes indeed too tired, jetlagged or lacking in self confidence to tango.

Although I did enjoy the performances of three of the six maestro couples (the other three performed the following night) at midnight and I had chatted with some of the other ladies, I mostly I spent the rest of the night sitting, watching and actively avoiding the cabeceo. And I left that evening wondering of it had perhaps been a mistake to come out here by myself. Maybe I should have waited until I was a more accomplished dancer...

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But tomorrow would be another day. And there's nothing that will build your confidence like learning from the maestros. So off I went the next day to my classes with the wonderful Daniel Nacucchio and Cristina Sosa. It was the second time our paths had crossed during this trip, the first being when I happened to walk in on one of their workshops in Sydney. And I wasn't going to make the same mistake again, this time I was going to be there on time.

That afternoon they were teaching two technique classes, the first one dealt with complex walking, and the relationship of feet to the floor. Here there was a focus on musicality and dancing with cadencia. Cadencia is sometimes defined as being a shifting in weight, but what they meant was a much wider concept, more than just moving the feet in time to the music, it was dancing with the whole body in time to the music and communication with the partner. Others have written at length and much better than I can on this, so I will point you to Paul Yang's post on cadencia (with a great video as an example) if you want to read more on this just click here. Just remember to come back here afterwards to read about the rest of my adventures in Singapore :-)

Meanwhile, the second class had started and now we were focusing on ochos and giros and again the emphasis was dancing these together with the partner with cadencia. Interestingly, in both classes, there were more men than women. Daniel and Cristina made sure that we changed partners constantly and so I would say no one was without a partner for more than a few seconds and everyone danced with each other.

After such an inspirational couple of classes and meeting so many new people, I think we can say the ice was broken and I went to the milonga that night with a completely different mindset than the previous evening. A few of the guys I had met earlier at the class invited me to dance, but I was also invited by guys I hadn't met before. I was more relaxed, which probably helped with the dancing, I didn't feel like an outsider and I enjoyed myself much more.

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I'm in there somewhere .... maybe ...

The performances were an absolute highlight. And I don't just mean the maestros. I am writing this post some weeks after the festival, so I cannot remember if it was at the welcome or the traditional milonga, but I do remember being wowed by this performance of Los Sueños (festival organisers) students to Francisco Canaro's Reliquias Portenas:

Such a joyful and playful choreography. I would love to be able to dance like this!

The next day I had two more classes, this time with Javier Rodriguez and Fatima Vitale.

We started with walking exercises, the cornerstone of tango technique. We went into a lot of detail here and the emphasis was on how to walk naturally and elegantly, particularly when walking backwards (which in itself is anything BUT natural).

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We then went on to practice giros, lápices and enrosques, which was a lot of fun! This was followed by a technique class for leaders and followers.

And then I had only a few hours before I had to get my flight home. So unfortunately no time for the Grand Milonga later that night. I would have loved to stay for the whole festival. On the other hand, I'm glad I was able to experience even two days of this festival.
What a way to end four and a half weeks of tango-travelling! Thank you to Lily, Gen and everyone else involved in the organisation of SITF 2015!

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Last class before I had to catch my flight home. Can you spot TT hiding there?


Photo credits: the second and third photos from the top are my own; the others, as well as the video are shared with kind permission of the festival organisers.

Practical information

This was the third edition of the Singapore International Tango Festival which takes place in October. It is organised by 2012 Mundial de Tango finalists (Salon Category) Lily and Gen, aka Los Sueños.
This year's festival ran from 7 - 11 October. Walk in price for the group classes was 50 SGD, and 45 SGD for the milongas, but prices were cheaper if booked in advance. Package as well as early bird prices were available if you plan ahead (this year the deadline was 1 July). The festival website can be consulted here if you want to get an idea of the programme (dates/website for 2016 not yet confirmed). I was only able to cover a very small part of what was on offer here.

PS According to their website, there is ballroom dancing every day at 1pm and 6pm at Le Danz, unless there is a private event. That sounds like a fun thing to try on my next trip to Singapore!

What was your first time at a tango festival like? Were you at SITF this year? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Posted by tangueratravels 12:39 Archived in Singapore Tagged singapore tango singapore_tango_festival first_time_at_a_tango_festival Comments (0)

A class, a practica, a milonga: two nights in Melbourne

Monday night, Exford Hotel, 199 Russell Street & Tuesday night, Bella Union, Trades Hall, Corner Lygon and Victoria Streets

sunny 30 °C

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Within hours of arriving, I was on my way to my first tango class since I started this trip. Melbourne, like Sydney, seems to have tango events nearly every night of the week and I wanted to make the most of the 48 hours that I had there.

The class had just started when I arrived on the first floor of the Exford Hotel bar. A group of about 20 people were gathered in a circle doing an exercise to practise dissociation, i.e. moving one part of the body independently from the other, in this case, the torso and the hips.

This warm up exercise was to prepare for the ochos which we practised in couples for the rest of the lesson, varying between linear and circular ochos. The group was balanced between leaders and followers and the teachers encouraged us to change partners after every tango so it was easy to get to know people.

The teachers Doni and Renee put a lot of emphasis on communication and connection with the partner, rather than mechanically executing the steps of the figure.

The lesson was followed by a practica and about half of the students stayed for that, with some people arriving especially for the practica. It wasn't really a guided practica, but Doni and Renee were at hand in case of questions.

It was a friendly, relaxed crowd, mostly more experienced dancers and very welcoming to newcomers. Maybe because this was a practica rather than a milonga?

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Which way to the next milonga?

The next night, I went to Bella Union, located within the historic Trades Hall. This is a performance space and bar which runs concerts, plays and, once or twice a month, a milonga.

I arrived at the start of the milonga and there were just a few people, who obviously knew each other. I sat down, changed my shoes and settled down, expecting to spend the evening watching others dancing. Oh well. I had danced a fair bit the previous night. And it wouldn't be the first time. Anyway, no one else was dancing yet. I was surprised when a few minutes later I was invited to dance and so we, so to speak, opened the milonga.

While I didn't dance as much as the previous evening (I didn't see anyone from the practica there, it seemed to be a different crowd), I definitely danced more than at the two events I went to in Sydney. Of those I danced with, quite a few seemed to be inviting me to dance because they hadn't seen me there before. They were curious to know where I was from, how I'd heard about the milonga and where else I'd danced during my trip. I really appreciated that and it showed me that even in a city with an active and large tango scene, it's possible to get some dances as a newcomer!

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Practical information: I took the Tango 2 Class, which takes place every Monday at 8pm on the first floor of the Exford Hotel. There is a beginners class at 7pm and a free introduction class at 6:30pm. I paid 15 AUD for the class; the practica goes from 9pm to around 10:30pm and costs 5 AUD. They also do classes on Tuesday and Thursdays, more info here.
The milonga at Bella Union takes place on Tuesdays, once or twice a month. Entry costs 10 AUD. Enter via Lygon Street. Check on the Melbourne tango calendar or here for the latest information, also for tango events on other days of the week.

Do you have tips for dancing tango in Melbourne? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!


All photos are mine except for the one of the milonga which is from Melbourne Practica Inc: http://melbournepractica.org/event/mpg-milonga-bella-union-6

Posted by tangueratravels 12:44 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne australia tango milonga practica tango_lesson Comments (0)

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