A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jim.labbe

Tango in Nijmegen

An Appreciation

Last year when I was planning this trip, an experienced tango dancer in Portland told me that I could go dance in many European cities but no place would I find a tango community as special as Portland, except in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Tango in Nijmegen is special. It has become enough a part of the local culture that it is not infrequent that tango will appear in the streets or in public places as part of some City-sponsored event.

El Corte's international acclaim and monthly chain salons are certainly a big part of what makes tango in Nijmegen unique, but that is just the start. I have had the pleasure of experiencing and enjoying both the internationalism of El Corte and the vibrant local tango scene that it has helped foster with other local tango dance schools like Two To Tango and Flor De Fango. Like Portland, Nijmegen has a critical mass of smart community leaders who collaborate and coordinate to promote the dance making it accessible and engaging to dancers at all levels. Also like Portland, Nijmegen has a relatively good balance of followers and leaders and plenty of dancers at all different levels. I also see more men following and women leading here than in other places I have danced in Europe over the last nine months. I suspect all these things are good indicators of a healthy, vibrant tango community.

One of my favorite weekly salons is Milonga Alegre, every Tuesday and fourth Saturday.

Here's a sampling of photos from recent good times at Milonga Alegre:

Milonga Alegre in motion:
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Bonny and Me:
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Kyra and Tissa:
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Jeff (Mandel) and Kyra
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Random shots:
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Guilherne the host (right) with Eve.
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Tissa Stein's apartment where I have lived since Feb. 1 has a marvelous dance floor in the front room. We spent many an evening just dancing around her place, including a house warming party on January 21st.

Stefan blurred:
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DJ Arnold:
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Kyra and Janneke:
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Bonnie and Tissa:
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On the second Sunday of every month we would dance at De Kroon tavern, but sadly after 8 years this event had its final dance on March 14:

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March 14-21 is Doblo Ocho, the 7th International Tango Festival in Nijmegen. This year it is celebrating both the 200th anniversary of Buenos Aires and the 20th anniversary of El Corte. I am doing some volunteering and making this event my final (for now) hurrah in Nijmegen.

Doblo Ocho has started with a series of events in a "spiegeltent" set up one of the squares in the center. A "Spiegeltent" or "mirror tent" is a portable dance hall and this particular spiegeltent is amazing. It was built in 1910, has stain glass windows, lots of mirrors and fine woodwork inside, cozy booths to sit in, and a fabulous dance floor. I danced in the spiegeltent March 12-15 to and had an absolute ball. Here are some photos:

Entrance to the Spiegeltent:
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Kyra and Janneke dancing:
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Kyra's chacarera class:
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My 100 square centimeters of fame in the local newspaper, de Gelderlander, March 15th.

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I will add more Doblo Ocho photos as events unfold this week.

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Posted by jim.labbe 09:11 Archived in Netherlands Comments (5)

Tree Wells on Hatertseweg

Integrating the built and natural streetscape in Nijmegen, Netherlands

In October when I arrived at my first rental place along Hatertseweg, City workers were tearing up the street a few blocks away. No big surprise really. The Dutch are always repairing, reconstructing, and most-the-time improving their public right-of-ways.

But this particular reconstruction job got my attention. The workers had constructed massive underground planter boxes between the street and the cycle path.

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The wells were covered leaving an opening for a large tree...

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(Photos by Jim Labbe)
... which when I went back today were planted next to a new bright red cycle path.

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(Photo by Jeff Mandel)

The tree planters are clearly designed to allow trees to grow bigger and healthier with more expansive canopies with the benefits to traffic calming, improved air quality and urban heat island mitigation, wildlife habitat, and simple beauty.

Apparently this road repair required removing some large trees and the construction of these tree wells was part of mitigating loss of the trees and the values they provide for neighbors, street users, and future generations.

Most of what makes the Netherlands such an affluent nation is its enormous wealth in public infrastructure (instead of cloistered in private spaces as in America) exemplified here in a creative street scape that more fully integrates the built and natural environment. I sure wish my , local municipality (City of Portland) and local Transportation Department (PBOT) demonstrated a similar commitment to creating urban streetscapes that worked for people, the varied ways people get around, and the natural environment.

Here is a photo of the project in June 2015, 5 years after planting. The trees are bigger, healthy and going strong.

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(Photo by Ruth Koster)

And again in July 2018
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(Photo by Jim Labbe)

Posted by jim.labbe 09:35 Archived in Netherlands Comments (5)

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