Line Out Music & the City at Night

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Get Raucous at Balkan Night Northwest

Posted by on Sat, Mar 1, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Hold (sweaty) hands with the next person you see and be swept away!
  • Paul Joseph Brown/Ecosystemphoto.com
  • Hold (sweaty) hands with the next person you see and be swept away!

One thing you should know about Seattle's Balkan Night Northwest is that there will be dancing—not like American dancing, where there's a chance maybe you won't look cool doing it, but folk dancing, where all you need to do is hold hands with the next person you see and be swept away.

There will be food, drink, and traditional dress—that is, layers of aprons, tunics, vests, and belts with dazzling embroidery and eye-catching primary colors. If you're like me (cynical, shy) and get a little grossed out by costumes and rituals, think about it this way: For thousands of years, the fertile, mountainous peninsula known as the Balkans (which includes Eastern European countries mostly ending in "uh"—Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Macedonia) has survived with their culture intact because they value it above all else.

Since pre-Christian times, they've passed down music, dancing, and even pagan traditions, carefully, to every generation—preserving it through Roman and French occupation, the Venetian Republic, brutal wars with the Ottoman Empire, WWI, WWII, and their own civil wars. In fact, during the Communist dictatorships, Bulgarians held on so tightly to what's called svatbarska and kyuchek music (Bulgarian- and Roma/Turk-influenced wedding music, respectively) that it became the rock 'n' roll of their culture. Under fascist rule, it was considered impure and antigovernment, but musicians played anyway, and stories of Balkan greats running from the police, scattering from weddings into the woods, are still going around. This resulted in the underground movement that birthed some of the music that will be heard at the 2014 Balkan Night Northwest. Additionally, March 1 marks the coming of spring in Balkan culture, a time to celebrate, and Seattle is home to some of the best Balkan-music bands around right now.

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And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, and beyond!

 

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