Remember that one day we were in Hoteni, way up North in Maramures, Transylvania in the midst of a spring festival dating back to the Roman era? That was a superlative day, a day we spent pressed up next to a small stage watching traditional Romanian music, dance and song.
I attend a lot of performances, both for my job and for pleasure, but I know nothing about Romanian music and dance. Part of the thrill of immersion in the Hoteni celebration was experiencing new sounds and trying to sort out what exactly was going on. I’ve since searched through youtube and found this video that most closely represents the style of performance we heard that day.
The music was heavy on the fiddle with support from accordions, drums, saxophone, and upright base. The sound to me was like a kind of middle Eastern blue grass with a varying rhythm.
The singing was more like rhythmic shouting. I couldn’t understand the lyrics but it seemed as if many had been improvised and perhaps funny or even raunchy. A lot of the shouted phrases were seven syllables long, followed by whistles in a call-and-response pattern. Give a listen to this short video on youtube of a song we heard performed in multiple variations throughout the day.
Let’s get a close up on those homemade shoes and hand knit socks.
Much of the dancing was with male/female couples wearing the most jaw-droppingly exquisite clothes I’ve ever seen.
There was much promenading in couples, finger snapping and skirt swirling.
One dance was just women in pairs.
Excuse me sir, are you aware that you’re wearing the world’s most awesome hat?
My favorite dances were with the men and boys. They leapt in the air and made their own percussion with slapping of boots, legs and sticks.
We arrived at the festival just in time: the man of honor (the first farmer to plough his field this spring) was carried in on a flower-and-ribbon strewn wooden litter.
Crowd of people surging into the Hoteni festival. What did I tell you about their gorgeous clothes?
This handsome couple was posing for someone else’s photo and we sneaked in a shot.
Note the traditional Romanian inflatable bouncy tent in the background, upper left (predates Roman times, no doubt.)
300 year old road-side cross we saw on the way to Hoteni festival.
The room in we slept in at Breb.
Our day in Hoteni was a phenomenal immersive experience in the traditions of Northern Transylvania . Like I said, though, I’m am not well informed about this form of music and dance. People of Romania, experts in traditional dance and folk music—I NEED YOUR HELP! Please explain what you know about these art forms. Thank you in advance for anyway you can help me further understand and appreciate this wonderful tradition.
How we got to Hoteni Festival: Florin from Casa Muntean drove us.
Where we slept: Village Hotel. Price: €30 for a double. Recommended: highly.