There’s no twerking. Nae Nae’s aren’t dropped. No whips. Stanky legs aren’t very stanky. It’s just good, old-fashioned dancing.
From June until the end of August, Jardin Tino Rossi comes alive with dancers from all types of genres. You will encounter salsa, tango, traditional Breton dancing, and bachata depending on what day of the week you go. The best part? You don’t even have to know how to dance.
Where to Find It
Situated in the 5th arrondissement below the Institut du Monde Arabe, Jardin Tino Rossi stretches about ¼ of a mile along the banks of Port Saint-Bernard.
You will know when you get close. I could hear the deep beats of a drum long before I saw the dancing. The drums are reminiscent of the childhood favorite Jumanji. Thump, thump thump thump. My dancing is like the stampede of rhinos, elephants, and zebras from Jumanji, wrecking everything in its path.
Large boats full of tourists armed with cameras pass by about every 5 minutes. From their point of view, the dancing at Tino Rossi probably feels like not being invited to a fun party. The tourists take their pictures and wave but the Seine separates them from the raw energy of Tino Rossi. I much rather be on solid ground, immersed in this strange community of dancing.
Dancing For Everyone
Whether you’re into the fast pace of bachata or the bouncy rhythm of traditional Breton dancing, there is a place for you at Tino Rossi. Dancers with years of professional experience or beginners taking their first step on the dance floor are welcome. As a person who stands in the corner of the room avoiding the dance floor, I felt like I was warmly welcomed into a bubble of happiness and no judgments. I could dance like no one is watching, even when everyone is watching. It was either that or I was being made fun of and couldn’t understand them.
For Americans who want to feel at home, the first platform closest to the Insitut du Monde Arabe plays top hits from the United States. The variety of music ranges from Snoop Dog to Ed Sheeran. Due to this change in tempo, the first few seconds of each song people freeze for just a moment. They look closer to hear to music. Hand in hand, the men twirl the women around the platform.
If you’re craving some live music, take a walk down to the lively Brenton dancing platform. A violinist and accordion player accompany a group of older people dancing in a large circle. The men clap twice and move to the center of the circle. Then, the women switch places with the men. And, repeat. After watching the repetive dance for several minutes, you could easily jump in the circle.
The Eyes Draw Them In
“You can’t dance? Oh, I am a very good teacher.”
The older man’s voice trails off, waiting for a response. I hesitantly declined his offer. I want to get the full experience, but the Argentine tango is a very intimate and passionate dance, one that I do not want to share with a stranger. However, after each song ends, many couples part ways. They exchange smiles and either move on to another partner or join their group of friends on the steps.
If you’re unsure about how to get involved with a dance, just observe the area for a little bit. People walk around the dance platform in search of a partner. If you make eye contact, they will most likely approach you.
After half an hour of hesitation, I finally crossed the line out of my comfort zone and agreed to dance with a cute little old man. I saw him roaming around the stage and just happened to make eye contact. He was wearing a nice yellow button up shirt, slacks, and worn leather shoes. Oh, and he didn’t know any English. I tried to tell him I was very bad but he just shook his head in confusion. We communicated through the dancing, a universal language. The old man led me through the entire song as I fumbled around trying to be graceful when he spun me.
Oddly enough, I want to go back. The positive energy is intoxicating and fun. This would be a perfect, inexpensive night out with friends. Maybe next time I go I’ll try bachata?
Audience: Student travel publication