Saturday, December 10, 2005

21st century folk ball

Yes, I went to a folk ball a week ago. We may live in the 21st century with cell phones, broad band internet, pda's and 5.1 dolby surround sets as modern status symbols but believe it or not, there are still young people that come together and do traditional dances. Mirjam, a girlfriend of mine, took me with her to cafe Wilhelmina in Eindhoven, where they do every month a folk ball.

Mirjam said the number of folk balls are growing. The folk ball in Eindhoven was for a long time one of the few in The Netherlands. Some people traveled for an hour or two to just dance in Eindhoven. Cafe Wilhelmina was sometimes so full that there was almost no room left to dance. Nowadays there are more folk ball-locations, so it's less crowded on the dance floor in Eindhoven. Unfortunately that means I could not blend in the crowd and hide the fact that I can't do traditional dances (well, to be honest: any type of dance for that matter). I learned a lot that night, but not without making a complete fool of myself. :)

Luckily I'm not unique in being a complete outsider. That's why before a band starts to play, it will always explain some dances. This can take an hour and a half or so. After that the lessons are over and the band just starts to play without any explanation of what dance you should do. You have to look at others to figure that out. Luckily Mirjam will recognize the type of dance that should be done with the song in a blink.

I learned about 6 dances that night. Some of them had to be danced in a group, some only with a dancing partner. Although it's a lot to learn for a beginner, the dances are not that difficult. Take the "Heksencirkel" (witches circle) for instance:

  • You all take each other's hand and form a circle
  • You all walk to the center of the circle and back
  • You all release your hands
  • The ladies dance/ walk to the center of the circle and back, while the men clap
  • After ladies returned, the men do the same, but have to do that without any clapping of the ladies. To compensate for that they give themselves a high five in the center of the circle :)
  • The men take the ladies at the right of them, do a little swirl with them and walk a bit along the circle
  • Repeat the procedure until the band is sick of it :)
The fun part is that every time you do this procedure, you switch dance partner. That way you dance with a lot of different people.

All-in-all, it was fun to do and I think I will do it more often.