Proving that it takes two to tango, we got up close and personal with international tango star and “Dancing With The Stars” judge Mazen Kiwan to learn more about dance in Lebanon and his favorite things about the country.
YOU JUST CELEBRATED THE NINTH EDITION OF THE BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL TANGO FESTIVAL AND THE FOURTH EDITION OF THE BYBLOS TANGO FESTIVAL IS COMING UP IN OCTOBER. TELL US MORE.
I moved to Paris in 1995 and the first time I came back to Lebanon was in 2002. I thought it would be great if I could bring tango to my homeland so I began to give workshops here. In 2003, I came with 16 of my students and that’s how it all started. Since the festival kicked off, we’ve brought over 2,000 people from 35 countries here.
The festivals not only celebrate tango, but also give people the opportunity to discover the real face of Lebanon. We take our guests all over the country, from Tripoli to Saida.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT DANCING OR TEACHING, WHERE DO YOU UNWIND?
I spend a lot of time in Badaro, where my dance academy is. Out of town, I relax in my village of Bater in the Shouf. I consider it to be the most beautiful in the region, with rolling hills and deep valleys, offering views down to the sea. You truly feel on top of the world there.
WHAT SHOULD EVERY TOURIST COMING TO LEBANON NOT LEAVE WITHOUT DOING?
It is important to explore old Beirut and to visit the mountains in any part of the country. Lebanon is so peaceful and tourists need to experience that.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE LEBANON?
It’s like your best friend and worst enemy! It’s nothing short of addictive.
TIPS FROM MAZEN
Wander around: Hamra, especially the old shops and cafés.
Stop for a coffee at: Café de Penelope in Badaro. Their espresso is awesome.
Grab a bite to eat at: Casablanca in Ain el Mreisseh. They serve delicious, fresh seafood.
Go hiking in: The Cedars or below Jezzine. It is so beautiful.
Escape the crowd: Out at sea! Rent a boat and find a remote spot to relax.
Enjoy the wine of: Château Heritage (red and rosé) and Ixsir (white).
For more information visit his Facebook page