The Táncház movement started in the 1970s, when young Hungarians began researching and reviving old music and dance forms. The name literally means "dance house," and refers to both the movement and a type of event: a long, sweaty folk dancing party with lots of live music and raw booze.
I really can’t pretend to know anything about Hungarian folkdancing. I'm just barely getting to know the difference between various regional styles, learning how to listen to the music. I still mentally divide the folk dances into four major categories: slappy, skippy, twirly, and circle. Embarassing when I talk to people who actually know what they're looking at. But the tiny bit I've heard about the actual origins of these dances is tantalizing: one dance has connections to old military recruitment traditions, another is a rough but perfectly preserved renaissance court dance, etc.
So, as part of my ongoing effort to feel around the edges of this movement, this Sunday I checked out the mother of all Táncházes: the National Táncház Festival, in Budapest's futuristic Papp László sports stadium. The dome is alive with the sound of music, from a giant dance floor:
To spontaneous jam sessions:
There’s a craft market selling bagpipes, leatherwork, instruments, cookies, clothes, boots ...
...and these shoes (I want them!)
A ton of veeerrry country Transylvanians were on hand to sell handmade embroidery and second hand clothes:
There were performances from kids who go to Táncház school...
...and kids learning to dance.
But the best part was watching some serious folk dancing. Here's some real pros rocking the hell out of a rowdy slappy dance:
And a mind-blowing twirly dance:
I get dizzy just watching it. Damn!
1 year ago