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Trad Dancing

A Hobby, a Sport, a Passion, a way of life: Traditional Dances!

I was never the dancing type.. the discotheque or club environment, smoky, hot, stuffy and crowded were simply unpleasant. And this modern dancing, where no one talks, just moves without a purpose or style, and tries to look sexy doing it - just no my thing.

A friend once took me to a 'ball'. I didn't even know what that was. People were dancing to live music from bagpipes, drums, flutes, accordeons and 'drehleihers'. In a wheel, in pairs, or in a chain, seemingly simple steps and much movement - I was hooked.

In Traditional Dances fit many different types: ethnic or folk, so-called 'european', light ballroom styles which spread through the world, and the use of proper instruments is a must. Usually maintained within small communities, these dances started spreading through small gatherings, which grew to large events such as those in France, Spain and Portugal. Even the dancers, usually older, are changing - at every event the amount of younger people increases.

I'm into the 'European' type of Trad dances: these include styles found in France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Portugal, Sweden, Ireland.. I find them not hard at all - they're mostly folk dances, and so lack the sophistication of a Wiener Walzer, for example. And as a man, it so happens I never lack partners - women participate in higher numbers.

Some people find folk dances something only villagers do - something old-fashioned. Well, let me tell you, there's hardly any truth there: you dance because you enjoy it, just like club-goers do.

Now an in-detail explanation of what we do in Trad community around here:
- bourree: a dance from mid-France, in pairs or fours
- valsa: the folk walser, where the steps and the tempo are more flexible
- mazurka: a most smooth pair dance
- An-dro, Hanter-dro: chain dances from Bretagne - some say you can achieve a transcendental experience while dancing!
- schottische: a very lively pair dance, with plenty of space for improvisation
- 7-salti: a circle dance from the Basque Country
- circle-circassien: my favourite, pairs make a circle, go to the centre, change partner
- jig: there are different variations, also in a circle of pairs

If there is someone who can lead, there are also some irish set-dances (though these are rather complex - many different steps), israeli dances (I always get confused, since the speed increases with time) or even portuguese dances - coarse by some standards, but by no means boring!

I also experimented with Finnish and Bulgarian dances once. The Finnish are quite nice - the woman leads! The Bulgarian dances seem to follow a trend I saw in other slavic dances: they're very rich, and require both strength and nimble feet; so, even though you can do the easier parts, you need proper education to get further.

And what about you? Every country has countless traditional dances, some countries as many as there are villages! Let us know about them!

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