The top 10 dancing holidays
Tango, salsa, flamenco... Make a New Year's resolution to learn a new step and this time next year you'll be really strutting your stuff, says Ian White
Sunday 31 December 2006
1 . Do the tango in Buenos Aires
If you're a tango lover, there's only one place to be next year: Buenos Aires, for the VI World Tango Festival, 7-15 October. This elegant city has a romantic streak that runs right through its wide boulevards and narrow cobblestone streets. The international festival will get you tantalisingly close to world-famous tango dancers in the classes, at the shows and at the milongas (social dances). During the week, participants travelling with Club Dance Holidays will receive 18 hours of tango tuition (12 classes of 90 minutes duration) and one 90-minute masterclass.
The deal: Club Dance Holidays (0870-286 6000; www.dance holidays.com) offers a tango-dancing package from £1,499 per person, based on two sharing. It includes return flights from London to Buenos Aires, eight nights' b&b in the three-star Hotel Waldorf, a full pass to all the festival events, the aforementioned classes, seven milonga nights with live tango orchestras, admission to the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, a dinner, a city tour and two tango shows with dinners.
2 . Fly to Cuba for some hot salsa
Love salsa? Then hit Cuba. Learn some serious moves by taking a lesson with a local expert in Old Havana's colonial quarter. The adventure travel specialist Explore! runs a 16-day tour called Cuba Libre!, which incorporates salsa into a wide-ranging itinerary that includes stays in traditional haciendas and a visit to the wild terrain of the Sierra Maestra, where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara plotted the revolution. You can also listen to humming-birds and glimpse the tocororo (the national bird of Cuba), swim under waterfalls and drink rum in rooftop bars en route.
The deal: Departing on 24 March, the 14-night package with Explore! (0870-333 4001; explore .co.uk) it costs £1,559 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow to Havana, all transport, 14 nights' hotel and hacienda accommodation, some meals, local payment and the services of a tour leader.
Alternatively, Explore! has a similar package called "Salsa de Cuba" for families with children aged five and above. As well as the lessons, this includes camping in Topes de Collantes National Park and relaxing on the beaches and coral reefs of Cayo Levisa. Departing April 2007, the price includes return flights from Heathrow.
3 . Kick up your feet, Irish style
If you want to combine a masterclass in Irish dancing with great live music, turn up at the Bridge Bar in Portmagee, County Kerry, any Tuesday night during July and August. Hosts Patricia and Gerard are very involved with traditional Irish music and dance in southern Kerry - they also help to organise the May Bank Holiday Irish Set Dancing Workshop Weekend that has been held in Portmagee for the past 11 years. Tuesday is the night when all the local talent comes together and offer easy-to-follow workshops on how to set-dance are held.
The deal: Portmagee's 16th annual Irish dancing workshop weekend takes place from 4 to 7 May. During the festival, the Bridge Bar (00 353 66 947 7108; www.moorings .ie), which has 17 guest rooms, and all local b&bs offer a standard weekend package price of €230 (£155) for three nights and two evening meals. The nearest airport is Kerry, about an hour's bus ride away, served by Ryanair (0871-246 0000; ryanair.com), which offers return flights from Stansted from £45 return, and Aer Arann (0800-587 2324; aerarann.com), which flies from Manchester from £60 return.
4 . Hoof it to Bollywood
You've heard the music, you've seen the dances - now learn the steps to your favourite Bollywood routines in the film studios where they were shot. Western & Oriental Travel can add a tour of a working Bollywood film studio in Mumbai to many of its holiday packages to India, such as "Colours of Karnataka and Goa" and "Highlights of India". This is a personalised tour for two to six people during which you can watch a real film being shot, meet the technicians, interview the assistant director, have lunch with the extras (and perhaps the stars), visit the make-up room and learn the dance moves with professional choreographers. Dance well enough and, who knows, you might even get a screen test.
The deal: Western & Oriental Travel (0870-499 1111; www.western oriental.com) offers the day tour from £252 per adult and £198 per child under 10 years old. It can tailor many of its Indian itineraries to include the Bollywood tour, flights and accommodation.
5. Flamenco in Andalucia
There are two types of flamenco - there's performance flamenco and there's the dance the locals throw themselves into at a fiesta. The latter is called sevillanas and is arguably more authentic. It's also easy to learn. Club Dance Holidays offers flamenco and sevillanas holidays that cater for all levels of ability and fitness. As well as an energetic form of exercise, flamenco dancing is a good way to relax - beating out complex footwork is apparently a great way to relieve stress. At the beginning of May, the Andalusian town of Granada erupts into its biggest party of the year - Las Cruces de Mayo. Over two or three days, the city squares are flooded with music, food, drink and dancing.
The deal: Club Dance Holidays (as above) offers packages from 27 April to 4 May from £525 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from London to Granada, seven nights' in a four-star hotel, dance tuition and a tour host.
6. One, two, three - waltz in Vienna
Some say the Viennese waltz dates back as far as the 12th century, when its graceful steps formed part of a dance called Nachtanz. Others say it was first danced in Paris in 1178. Stanley Kubrik exploited its trademark beat when he used Johann Strauss's "Blue Danube Waltz" for the spaceship docking scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The deal: Tanzschule Hernals Grossman (00 43 1 409 55 50; office@tanzschule- hernals.at) stages lessons in how to waltz at studios in the centre of Vienna for €45 (£30) - the price includes coffee and cake afterwards. You can combine this with a stay at the aptly-named Harmonie, a modern four-star hotel in a residential area of the capital. Booked through Hotel Connect (0845-230 8888; hotelconnect .co.uk), b&b in February and March starts at £31 per person per night, based on two sharing, rising to £45 per person per night in April. There is a five per cent discount for booking online.
7 . Have a stomping time in the US
It might not be the most sensual or demanding of dances but line dancing is good fun and makes you smile (if only at yourself). And, if you do it in Wyoming, where you still find genuine cowboys, you may even lose that sense of irony. Just a 10-minute drive away from Yellowstone National Park (where you must take in the Old Faithful geyser) and half an hour from the town of Cody, the home of the Cody Night Rodeo and the Buffalo Bill Historical Centre, the Blackwater Creek Ranch is the ultimate dude ranch family holiday. It offers riding on mountain trails, fishing, rafting western rodeos and, of course, line dancing, which usually takes place in a barn within the ranch - with all the guests and staff taking part.
The deal: Seven nights' full board with Ranch America (0870-499 0689; ranchamerica.co.uk) costs £1,599 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from London, transfers and all ranch activities.
8 . Shake your belly in Morocco
Beneath the hazy lights of the marketplace in Agadir, after the storytellers and snake charmers have worked their magic, the belly dancers take centre stage and captivate their audience. Learn the art of seduction with belly dancing classes at the Caribbean Village Agador, a purpose-built hotel complex offering a blend of relaxation and activities for the family. The hotel-run kids' club leaves adults free to go to the beach until 4pm when belly dancing lessons begin. At the end of the week there is a traditional Arabian Nights-themed evening when those who have been exercising their pelvic muscles and training their hips can show off the results.
The deal: Departing on 9 May, First Choice (0870-850 3999; firstchoice.co.uk) offers this seven-night package from £459 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick (other regional airports are available) and accommodation, excluding dance classes. Extra lessons can be arranged for groups and individuals for an additional charge.
In Puglia, southern Italy, the Tarantella is a popular traditional dance performed at pretty much all celebrations.
The deal: Discovery Travel (01889 882170; discovery-travel.co.uk) offers Tarantella breaks in southern Italy in June and September from £850 per person, based on two sharing, including return transfers from Bari/Brindisi airports or Lecce train station, four nights' b&b, three evening meals, two dance demonstrations, four two-hour workshops, guided tours of Lecce and Otranto (return flights not included).
The best ballroom
The success of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing has seen a resurgence of interest in ballroom dancing. Do it in style with Warner Breaks' Simply Ballroom short breaks, featuring a cast of dance champions.
The deal: On 30 April Warner Breaks (0870 601 6012; warnerbreaks.co.uk) will offer a package at Thoresby Hall, Notts; the four-night midweek breaks cost £306 per person. Prices are based on two sharing and include dinner, bed and breakfast.
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