The tour group of Japanese tourists with cameras round their necks was a cliché in the 80s. Today, if you live in a large European city, even if you have never been on a group tour yourself, you will have bumped into people travelling as a school group, with an over 60′s tour, American tourist groups… What all these groups have in common is a particular style of ‘travel’:
You book yourself on a tour, from that point everything is taken care of. You get ferried around in air-conditioned comfort, someone organises your hotels and your meals, and you return home with loads of photos/video, having ticked off all your ‘must sees’ … but having not exchanged one word with a local.
I will put my cards on the table – I hate this kind of travel. I was once on a trip like this (long story – but it involved Russia, or the Soviet Union as it still was) and I made a break for it. Just one day of escaping the terror of the bus was fully worth it.
So… I now find that I organise group trips to Spain to learn Tango. The irony would be beautiful, but I am adamant that although we go as a group, these are not ‘group trips’ in the traditional sense of the word. We go and we blend with the existing tango community that is already there – who I have danced with for many years – and our cultural trips are done Andalucian-style – with lots of tapas, wine, sitting around people-watching, a little culture, and many serendipitous surprises!
I think the key here is integrating with the community. On past trips, I recommended a few hotels to people, but this time, we’re going to be sharing airbnb apartments, and possibly doing a few homestays with local tangueros too. Things like cookery lessons, which are on the programme, will be provided not by hotels but by people in their homes. In this way, I like to think that in a small way, we’re helping some of the people currently struggling in Spain’s recession.
This year’s trip is 11-16th June. There are some spaces left – join us! Details on: http://www.lovetango.org