Folk dance for all
Everyone needs to let off steam in some way. Some shout, some resort to a drink or increase their endorphins munching a bar of chocolate. In Hungary we do all this AND one more. We dance – not only youngsters and school kids, but all generations, gathering like a big family. It’s not about swinging your hips to a slow melody: it’s about vigour, energy and communal spirit. Have a look at this video:
What is a dance house? Basically it’s a platform where live bands play for a couple of hours usually at a district leisure centre and a bunch of people do their best to follow the choreography of various national dances. It’s lively, it’s dynamic and at times challenging in terms of duration – e.g. one Moldavian dance could last as long as 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter if you are a slow learner – just stand in the outer circle! The ambiance is relaxed, locals will show you some steps – go for it!
So, why are Hungarians so passionate about folk dances? The first dance house was organised in 1972 and served not only party purposes, but also the preservation of our cultural heritage forging a sense of community in an era of Communist dictatorship. At the very first event the entry for participants was some fruit palinka, of course – loss of inhibitions guaranteed, the mood for singing quickly arisen.
Dance houses are very reasonably priced even today. You can buy your ticket on the spot for 2-3 EUR. No dress code, no costume necessary. Expect to find a buffet with snacks but without hot meals – I suggest you have dinner beforehand to be able to shed some surplus calories. Drinks are served but, in all honesty, you don’t even need them to get carried away and conveyed to a realm of joyous celebration. If you want to find out where you can go out on various days of the week, google the local folk radio station – clicking on ’folknaptár’, a list of venues and times comes up, you don’t need to be able to read Hungarian to find out what happens where.
You can choose your level from elementary to professional, now it’s a teaching model and part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. It’s so widespread that you can find Hungarian dance houses now all over the world – from Vienna to Down Under.
What are you waiting for? Just come along and plunge into a brand-new experience, you won’t regret it! And if you have already tried what it feels like when the blood is rushing through your veins from twisting, turning and jumping around like a kid, share your memory with us so we can smile together!