The Tango Quotient is a personal account of tango travel adventures

Historic Heidelberg

Historic Heidelberg

Hidden Treasures of a Medieval Town

The Tangoholics Heidelberg Festival was a first time event for the organizers.  The notion of tango in a medieval town in Europe was too magical to resist despite the risks of a premiere event.  The impressive DJ line up, drawing names from all over Europe, was equally compelling.

Though true tangoholics at heart, for us the weekend was planned more as a romantic refuge infused with tango rather than the usual tango heavy focus.

Our hotel was set just inside the walls of the aldstadt, old town against a fairy tale backdrop.  The hilltop Renaissance period schloss, castle, completed the picture postcard perfection that lured us into immediate exploration of the town’s hidden treasures. After a day of pounding the cobbled stones and sampling the culinary delights we were exhausted and ended up sleeping through the opening night milonga.

The marathon events were held in a nondescript venue a few kilometres outside the old town walls.  It was spacious and accommodated a large tango lounge for weary legs and made for a less crowded floor compared to a typical marathon, which was a welcome change.  The sunlight filled room made for an enjoyable afternoon milonga and start to the marathon for us at least. 

The event drew a crowd from both Germany and neighbouring European cities.  With the region’s culturally diverse population, the attendance was a pleasing mix of ethnicities and dance experiences.  It was heartening to see that even the less proficient dancers are enthusiastically committed to developing their dance expression.  With an active calendar of reasonably priced, high quality tango events on offer in easy access, it would be hard to not be competitively inclined.

The crowd was friendly and enthusiastic.  Bizarrely there were more good leaders than followers, creating a favourable imbalance - for me at least.  I found I had tandas lined up waiting; the eagerness by the invitees was somewhat testing with a few too many fixated eyeballs to contend with during the cortinas.  True to its name this was a real marathon sin workshops and performances thereby extending dancing time.  The numbers thinned out for the after milongas, perhaps the dancers weren’t quite as hard-core as the ones I have seen in the more established festivals. 

Early in April the evenings were already long and extended daylight allowed for inter milonga exploration.  Surprisingly for a tourist hub, the town pretty much shuts down on Sundays.  Initially disappointed that we couldn’t hire bikes to explore the beautiful riverside setting, we were guided to a bike stand where a well-designed app facilitated rentals. Within a matter of minutes we had unlocked our two wheelers and were bumping along the cobblestones toward the Neckar River celebrating the competence of German technology.

Heidelberg, popularly known as a romantic destination, is also home to a spirited community of students through one of Germany’s oldest and most reputable universities.  While in the UNESCO City of Literature, we followed the footsteps of poets, artists and philosophers of a by gone era and scaled the steps to the Philosophers Walk.  Not so easy on tango stressed legs, though the elevation did offer yet another spectacular and more serene vista of the town below.

The organizers announced dates for a repeat event next year; it is a promising start for Tangoholics and no doubt an event that will grow in profile.  The idyllic setting and scenery of Heidelberg is a huge draw card.

Surprisingly unscathed from WWII ,unlike most German cities, Heidelberg offers a trail of hidden treasures and a magical backdrop to a tango weekend

Tango Highlight: The energising and adept DJ line up. The enthusiastic and relaxed crowd. 

City Highlight:  The charm of the old town, the breath-taking vistas and the perfect fusion of medieval sights and tango sounds.  The cobbled streets of the medieval town are rimmed with culinary delights that offered some of the best dining experiences of our entire European stay. 

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