Get to Know An Amsterdammer(s) 4


Amsterdam is one of the most densely-populated cities in Europe. With people living at such close quarters to each other, it helps to have good neighbours. It helps even more, one might suggest, if those neighbours are tango dancers.

Meet Vanessa (the neighbour, in yellow) and Christiane (the friend of the neighbour). Over a random afternoon chatting over and then climbing over the short brick wall separating our back patios, with prosecco, cheese, and grapes to fuel the discussion on a sun-dappled late March afternoon, we got to know some more Amsterdammers.

Both are indeed tango dancers, which in a Northern European city is about as common as being a gouda seller in Buenos Aires. Christiane has been here since 1993 while Vanessa was born here but spent the past seven years in Argentina.


Age: 29
Is: dating someone actually named Rembrandt
Likes about Amsterdam:
  • the "mix" of everthing and everyone, the different cultures to run into everyday. You can go for a drink alone and not stand out, and feel comfortable.
  • the bikes
  • the small size - despite being a major international city, everything feels close and you can bike everywhere in 15 minutes.
Dislikes about Amsterdam:
  • The drunkenness, especially among young people (Editor's note: just last night - weeks after this interview was held - some young people caused havoc in Vondelpark, the central point of good weather hanging out and laid-back behaviour - they pulled people off bikes, assaulted some, then throw bottles at police; this is a highly uncommon experience however)
  • "It can be difficult to make friends with the Dutch" (Ed. note - and Vanessa is Dutch)
  • The weather (aside from this amazing spring)
Oddest sight: some oiled-up guy in rollerblades and a g-string (Ed. note - sorry; I was feeling a little frisky that night).

Where else would you live in the world?
Buenos Aires

Life as a tango dancer/instructor can be hard here - it's not a passion of the Dutch, not a tango culture of course. And there is perhaps less, er, flexibility in their hips. Why does she keep doing it? "Because I love to dance".



Age: 36
Is: originally from Brazil
Likes about Amsterdam:
  • the laid-back people
  • the compactness of the city
  • relaxed lifestyle
  • the small size - despite being a major international city, everything feels close and you can bike everywhere in 15 minutes.
Dislikes about Amsterdam:
  • Impoliteness of the people, the lack of social awareness
  • "The Dutch - and of course there are exceptions - are very concerned with spending money; this also seems to translate into being stingy with their feelings."
  • The weather
Favourite spots:
  • Cafe-Restaurant Vertigo (above the Film Museum, in Vondelpark) (Ed. note - lame photos on their website belie a very cool location)
  • Cafe Walem
  • Jordaan neighbourhood
  • Vondelpark
Where else would you live in the world?
Madrid, Paris, numerous places in Italy

Christiane's challenges with being a tango dancer here mirror those of Vanessa. People don't immerse themselves here, they just dabble for fun and don't want to spend the money or the time to get into it. They want to have fun, and to really learn tango is not fun.

Having interesting neighbours just outside your back door, however, is quite fun.