This is the second Seattle celebration of Balkan Night. Last year’s single night event was successful enough that it has been expanded to cover two nights on Capitol Hill and one downtown event as well. Friday and Saturday will be on the Hill, with a special concert on March 17th at the Triple Door featuring the event’s out of town guests, Merita Halili and The Raif Hyseni Orchestra.
Organizer Christos Govetas spoke with CHS and told us the nonprofit event serves the purpose of bringing he says are several Balkan communities in Seattle together in one place. He feels these communities may not be aware of each other, and the hope is to unite under the singular Balkan identity, at least for the weekend. And, yes, to dance.
Govetas is particularly excited to see Babouteri, a group young people from Montlake’s Saint Demetrios. They are involved this year in a performance of costumed characters that commonly appear in northern Greece around the beginning of Lent, where Govetas is from.
“There are very specific rituals that take place this time of year to signify the change from winter to spring,” said Govetas.
This desire to hold onto tradition, and instill that desire into the next generation is a large part of the motivation for the event. Babouteria performs Saturday night. Next year organizers hope for at least two or three younger groups to be involved.
The big draw for this year as Govetas sees it is Merita Halili and the Raif Hyseni Orchestra. They live in New York, but are an Albanian folk band with an international name. Next year to further the goal of authenticity the organizers hope to import smaller groups from villages and towns in the Balkans, depending on this year’s success.
Many local groups will be donating their time for the nonprofit event. Northwest locals like Bucharest Drinking Team, Nu Klezmer Army, and Orkestar Zirkonium will all be offering their excited brass and drums and clarinets. All told there will be 36 bands, more than doubling 2012 due to last year’s wild success.
“Many of these bands are ethnic musicians that play for their various communities,” said Govetas.
The funds raised go towards overhead, the costs of bringing out of town talent, and the rental fees for the Russian Community Center. The event is well equipped with volunteers for this year, but for folks looking to get involved in 2014 there will be opportunities to volunteer posted on the website.
Govetas recommends bringing your dancing shoes.