Balkan history is complicated. Balkan geography and politics, too. Balkan music, however, is simple: Balkan music for dancing.
Tomorrow night, the third annual Balkan Night erupts in Seattle, a raucous celebration of music, dancing, drinking, more dancing, delicious food, cute old men, cute old ladies, tiny babies, more music, more dancing and exotic imported cigarettes. We're talking a few hundred people of all ages and various ethniticies feverishly circle-dancing to high-spirited Balkan-style bands for hours on end. Literally: Nine bands will play nonstop from 3 PM to midnight tomorrow. The lineup features the Bulgarian Choir or Seattle, High Dukes, Kafana Republik, Dragi Spasovski, Eurodanceparty USA, Dromeno, Orkestar Zirkonium, Bucharest Drinking Team and special headliners Kalin Kirilov & Bulgarite.
Last year some friends and I stubled into the Russian-American Center on Balkan Night and witnessed a sub-cultural underground with roots going back centuries. We were floored. It looked like this:
This year the event happens at Saint Demetrios Hall, that gorgeous, midcentury Greek Orthodox church in Montlake. The theme is Balkan Mardi Gras, which is apparently a pre-Christian Greek and Bulgarian tradition thousands of years old. Expect holiday-appropriate costumes and giant puppets and headdresses along with the usual friendly bacchanal.
Sunday night, the party relocates back to the Russian-American Center for a reprise of Kalin Kirilov & Bulgarite, a traditional Bulgarian dance band that includes accordion, tambura, gaida (Bulgarian bagpipes) vocals, kaval (Bulgarian end-blown flute) and percussion. Opa!
Deep ethnic experiences like this are rare in the Northwest, especially ones as welcoming and inclusive as Balkan Night. Get your tickets and join in.