A baby boomer tangoes into retirement by way of Italy

We run a lot of stories on BoomerCafé about how baby boomers are handling retirement… or, planning for it. Michael James Gallagher’s sounds particularly fun. From Quebec City, Canada, he writes about an almost accidental discovery that has changed his life and shaped his retirement.

The closer we get to retirement, the more we realize that it’s no longer going to be ‘who you are’ but rather ‘how you are’ that matters. Retirement: The great equalizer.

My life partner and I plunged into tango dancing 15 years ago. In the beginning, tango got us over the hump of a serious illness by helping us maintain intimacy in our relationship while dealing with severe pain.


Tango in Locorotondo, Italy.

So, what’s the most important step to take in pre-retirement? Find activities, as we did, that will occupy your time and energy. Now, many parts of our life revolve around tango. From volunteering at International Tango Festivals to planning courses for baby boomers, the dance has moved front and center in our lives.

Maybe different strokes for different folks apply, but I rather doubt it. Choices differ but deep needs remain the same. Some form of exercising, eating right, growing our loving relationships and practicing mentally stimulating activities will lead down the best path to a happy retirement.


Tango in a piazza in the medieval city of Locorotondo, Italy.

Everyone talks about travelling in retirement, but sitting in hotels and eating rich food in restaurants, no matter how appealing, pales pretty quickly. How are we planning our first retirement vacation then?

By Googling ‘tango festivals’ by month and then searching for the closest campgrounds. Why camping? We control our diet and cook our own organic, non-processed foods most of the time. Also, not everyone can afford the prices in places like Tuscany, Italy.

Now comes the last piece of the ‘happiness-in-retirement’ puzzle: developing a passive income stream stemming from an inspiring retirement hobby. In my case, writing thrillers, incorporating tango, set in exotic places that I visit. My second novel, ‘Harlots All’, Part 2 of the Spy Stories and Tales of Intrigue Series will come out on Amazon later this year.


Ilona Bieszczad, wife of Michael James Gallagher, on a nighttime stroll through the medieval city of Locorotondo, Italy.

A tango festival in the white, medieval city of Locorotondo, Italy, provided the scene for the following tango sequence in ‘Harlots All’.

Minutes before her feet, wrapped in black stilettos, had been dancing tango in front of the Basilica di San Martino on the cool smoothness of the marble flagstone plaza.

“The air is oppressive here, but the feeling of dancing with you, magnificent,” said Michael.

“I know my sweet, but you aren’t leading. These Italians’re prone to grand gestures and they don’t take into account the small size of the dance floor. They don’t seem to like the competition,” said Kefira as she threaded her way between two couples in front of her.


The ancient houses of Locorotondo, Italy.

“They’re too macho, Keffy. They just can’t take seeing two women on the floor.”

“Maybe that’s it but it doesn’t stop them from hitting on me with their eyes when we sit.”

“Who’s hitting on you? I’ll break his balls.”

“I love it when rage fills your face. You’re passive side disappears completely.”

“Still, mi amor, breath it in. The smell of the distant sea, the yellow of the lanterns reflecting on the white stone, the cool, smooth feel of the marble slabs underfoot and, most of all, your skin, juicy with exertion, mixing with that erotic scent of yours,” said Michael.


Locorotondo, Italy

“How could I complain? You’re right, my Irish wraith. But you forgot the sheer pleasure of being taken by the music.”

“I wonder when my brother’ll make an appearance. We’re here to meet him, aren’t we?” asked Michael, somehow distracted.

As if oncue, their world shattered. For Kefira, the cool smoothness of the marble flagstone underfoot became slimy with blood. Confusion reigned, but Kefira’s training allowed her not to be completely mystified by unfathomable reality.

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    1. It was an amazing evening. But more interesting was the way the setting inspired the location for an important scene in the second novel of the series. A new technology, nanotech foglets allow the bad guy to suspend reality and perform telekinetic feats.

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