The fair and national reunion, called “táncháztalálkozó” in Hungarian, was held in Budapest’s Papp László Sports Arena on 2nd-3rd of April, 2016. Although it literally translates into “dance house”, there is no English word to precisely express the concept, which has even been acknowledged by UNESCO in the Hungarian term (táncház-method) when listed among the Best Safeguarding Practices in 2011. So, first of all, what does táncház mean? Something like this:
The Hungarian capital’s first táncház was held in Budapest in 1972. This was when the revival movement of folk culture, music and dances begun. An incomplete list of the pioneers of the Hungarian urban folk music and dance movement would include Ferenc Sebő, Béla Halmos and Sándor Timár. At the time they started the movement according to the traditions of Szék (Sic, Romania) a little ethnic Hungarian village in the heart of Transylvania.
Táncház in the Kassák Klub ’72, photo via folkradio.hu
By today, the movement has become an extensive subcultural phenomenon. Thousands of dancers, musicians, school students and interested members of the general public attended the 35th Táncháztalálkozó and Fair. It is really amazing when a huge, modern sports hall the Papp László Sports Arena transforms to a big multi-(folk)cultural village. The performers and many of the visitors wear costumes and plenty of Hungarian folk bands come together from all over the world. The most amazing thing is how they can play and dance together.
The annually held event offered a lot of programs. In the main hall of the stadium was an all-day-long show and market. Dance groups from the countryside and from the Hungarian diaspora came together. Also here in the stadium was another marketplace with original traders from the villages of Transylvania where you could buy costumes and handmade-crafted things. If you get tired in the dance and song courses, in the folk-pub there was opportunity to take a rest or check out what you have learned. You could ask Sándor Csoóri, a recent recipient of the Kossuth Prize, to play your one. On the closing gala, Félix Lajkó, the famous violin master performed and the show named “Nothing like this happened before” debuted and presented the dances and songs of the Mezőség region of Transylvania. After the programs in the Stadium, within the programs of the Táncháztalálkozó, in the ruin pubs and other cultural centers of the downtown of Budapest the party was going on…