Monday, October 21, 2013

Dance in Bulgaria

Salsa Party, Dobrich
I seriously might just write pages and pages about dance in Bulgaria. I have no idea where to begin with this. Any moment of any dance experience I've had so far could turn into a mini essay, a blog post, etc. I'd like to turn studying dance in Bulgaria into a kind of writing project but I don't know what the goals of it would be or where I should start... other than dancing as much as possible. That I can try arrange.

The signs were all over town. I couldn't read most of the words but "SALSA" was very readable. Salsa. I like salsa. I love salsa. The first week in Dobrich, I asked the student showing me around to translate the sign. We ended up going to the grocery store where the club met and got the times and prices. Friday. I'd be going dancing in my new town just less than a week after I first arrived.



I was so nervous. Going dancing in any new place is nerve wracking. I think about all the things I'm bad at. I think of all the ways they might miss that I already know how to dance. Will they be mean? Will the guys be creeps? Will I understand anything?

First off, dancing guys have a much lower rate of creepers than in other populations. I'm convinced of this. And if they are generally strange in normal situations, they typically hold it together through the confines of dance structures to be pretty cool. That fear was silly

Secondly, I know how to dance.

Thirdly... okay so the language thing wasn't solvable.

But it was a good time. I danced, got invited to a salsa party in Varna that very night, and met Irina, one girl who has quickly become not just a "Bulgarian friend" (someone who is generally nice to you as a newcomer) but a friend. Really successful.

The next weekend, when all the Fulbrighters showed up in Varna, we went salsa dancing together.

I've gone dancing in the town shopping center.

I've checked out multiple salsa clubs and am learning challenging moves that require technique above my skill level to do successfully.

I found a professional instructor in Varna and took a dance lesson that made me glow with contentedness.

The thing is that dance has kept me going. I don't know how this month would have been if I hadn't found dancing right away. It's a connection, a point of common interest. While dancing, you don't have to talk. Language barriers don't exist. You can just deal with the music and with lead and follow and tell really fun stories.


It's also fascinating to be around the people in my age range. So many of them have left Dobrich for Varna or Sofia. Yet in the dance classes, my age demographic is there, learning the steps, joking together, getting drinks afterwards. The social scene for salsa is enormous.

Ballroom? Still making connections there. Taking a lesson was a great start. I'm hopefully going to talk my instructor into getting coffee with me so I can interview him about how dance is structured here and even seen how it changed after The Changes (end of Cold War, fall of the Iron Curtain).

Just a few months ago, I was burnt out from dance. By the time the last semi formal came and went, I was so ready to be done. No more teaching, no more competing, no more 133. It was too much. I didn't dance at all this summer. Even at public events like Arts Fest... I danced on the street for just a song and then was happier to sit and listen than to move. I wondered if dance was going to ever come back. Jolene said it would. These things just need a rest sometimes.

I've missed you Dancing Bug. Добре дошли отново!

(At least I think that's Bulgarian for welcome back?)

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