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Lucky beginners – a tango holiday at Villa La Rogaia, Umbria

Begiinners tango classAn account of one couple's thoroughly enjoyable experiences of a tango holiday, a different way of learning, how to 'feel' the dance and 'body talk'. Villa La Rogaia Tango courses are available for beginners, improvers and more advanced dancers, and with a range of different internationally acknowledged tango teachers.

A Tango holiday in Italy!
Oh, how romantic, my friends had said, when I told them about our vacation plans for this year. A country house at Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italian dolce vita, amore and so on. And when we finally arrived at the Villa La Rogaia it was all just like how we had imagined it: a tranquil little paradise far away from hectic everyday life, gorgeous food prepared by Mamma Ornella, good company with a handful of couples from different countries, sunsets behind the rolling hills. So far so good.

But what about the Tango classes?
I admit I was sceptical, indeed very sceptical. Then came the first lesson. I surely had not imagined it to be like that. Tango for me always has been Forward, Forward, Rok-king-Step, Back, Side, Close. I never got the rhythm and at weddings and other inevitable celebrations I was always standing on the dance floor like a log. My wife tries to lead then. In vain mostly. It is terribly embarrassing each time.

Now I am here, meant to concentrate on my 'axis' and have no clue what that means. I am told to be attent where my weight is, and to lead a nonverbal dialogue with my wife and dance partner. Actually it's her fault, that we are here. She gave me the Tango holiday as a birthday present. So what could I do about it? Fact is: I like to dance. It's only, that I have no talent at all.

At the beginning of the lesson the teacher couple, Annette and Wolfgang, had us walk around in a circle, alone, without partner, clapping the beat for us. And it worked, but it is simple enough though. Walking! Now we are standing in front of each other. I shift my weight from one foot to the other. Gently but clearly enough to make my wife feel it and join in. That is new for both of us. Not to learn a basic step by rote but feel what the partner is doing. To give and receive subtle signals. Now I step forward, still a little hesitant, but right on the beat. My wife joins in. I do not tread on her feet. A success! Now another step and one more. Blimey why is it working now?

feal the dance!'Please stand straight! If you bend forwards or backwards the ladies won't feel what you propose to them.' Our Tango teacher pretends to say it for everybody, but I know she meant me, didn't she? Actually, the concept of 'lead and follow' does not seem to exist here. We, the men, are supposed to invite the ladies, seduce them. They shall feel what we propose to them. And all of that during the whole dance. A real challenge. I notice that I start to like it. I do not have to concentrate on steps, do not have to learn sequences by heart. My wife seems to like it too. At least she is not hissing instructions.

Whoops, now we did crash into each other. One moment we did not watch out. We look at each other dumbfound and then we start to laugh. I realize there is still a lot to do. Yet the first step is done.

In this week at La Rogaia we not only have learned the basics of Tango but also a new subtle way of 'body talk'. We learnt that 'it takes two to tango'. We laughed, we ate ate, in short we had a great time!

Text © Travel-quest and Villa La Rogaia 2008, Photos © Villa La Rogaia 2008

Agriturismo Villa La Rogaia offers dance holidays in an Umbrian country house above Lake Trasimeno; here you can learn how to Tango with world famous teachers and enjoy Italian 'Dolce vita'. They also offer other creative courses including wine tasting, cooking, painting, sculpture, writing, walking, herbal tours and olive picking.

Visit our directory pages for a full listing of dancing holidays, including Argentine and ballroom tango.