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Hungarian ‘Folkers’ From All Around The World Reunited

The fair and national reunion, called “táncháztalálkozó” in Hungarian language, was held in Budapest’s Papp László Sports Arena between 21nd and 23rd of April, 2017. 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.

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The Hungarian capital’s first táncház was held in Budapest in 1972. This was the beginning of the revival of folk culture, music and dances. An incomplete list of the pioneers of the Hungarian urban folk music and dance movement would include Ferenc Sebő, Béla Halmos and Sándor Timár. That times they started the movement according to the traditions of Szék (Sic, Romania) a little ethnic Hungarian village in the heart of Transylvania.

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Táncház in the Kassák Klub ’72, photo via folkradio.hu

Nowadays the táncház-movement is an extensive subcultural phenomenon. Thousands of dancers, musicians, school students and interested members of the general public attended the 36thTáncháztalálkozó 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 even if they have never done it before with each other.

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The annually held event offered a lot of programs. The main hall of the stadium transformed to an all-day-long show stage and marketplace. Dance groups from the countryside, from the Carpathian Basin 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.

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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, the Boban Marković Orkestar performed. 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…

Photos: Csenge Hrotkó and Kincső Bede