The aeroplane touches down in Budapest. I walk with anticipation to ‘arrivals’ to be met by a small cluster of taxi drivers all holding up the names of those passengers they have come to collect. Resting my eyes on each name I suddenly see my name peering at me in highlighted pen, written in a boyish manner, unlike the perfectly printed out letters of an impersonal computer from the signs of other taxi drivers. I acknowledge the driver signalling that I am the girl he has come to collect and we walk to the taxi.
Foreign Eyes On Foreign Lands
It’s a fifteen minute drive to the hotel and I don’t know where to look. I begin to soak up the dark consuming streets of Budapest, reading the alien words on the billboards and chuckling to myself that there is a Tesco’s supermarket here. It is hard to describe the feeling of being in a new place – knowing that you are exactly 1136.17 miles away from home. Exhilaration. Anticipation. Excitement. Fear.
Searching For Salsa
At the hotel, it’s a quick shower and change before heading out clutching in my hands my Google map hoping that it will lead me to my destination of Szilvuple, located on Ó u. 33, Budapest VI. Before coming to Budapest I knew that I would have one evening in the big city and thought that I may go to a club or bar or crossing my mind that even walking the streets towards the glow of the Chain Bridge by the river, however, I reasoned that as a lone traveller I should be more cautious and stick to what I know. During my dissertation period at University, turning up to a new salsa club alone across London for the sake of research was a normal occurrence and therefore, taking it that one step further in a foreign city seemed far from daunting. The likelihood of finding a salsa dance venue on a Monday night I felt was too ambitious, especially one which would be located near enough to my hotel so that I could walk there, however, I came across Szilvuple on http://www.salsacrazy.com/salsa-europe/budapest-salsa-clubs-and-classes/ and was even more surprised to find that they hold social salsa every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Stepping out into the night, feeling the rain on my back I walk towards Király u. hoping that I am taking the right turn. It is not before long, that I already begin to think that I am lost, showing little faith in my ability to read maps. Luckily, an older Hungarian lady feels sympathy for this lost, wet tourist whose map has turned into mush from the rain and points to the church ahead which will lead me to Nagymező u. As I strut down the road I walk past the Moulin Rouge Dance Club half expecting Christian and Satine, also known as Ewan McGregor and Nicola Kidman, to come out and belt a rendition of ‘Come What May’ down the street.
Finally I reach my destination: a small bar located down a side street and pay a few forints to enter. It is apparent that some people are wondering who I am but at the end of the room I can see some people dancing Rueda in a circle and aim straight for them eventually finding a seat. As I sit there, it becomes apparent that here in Budapest they dance Cuban salsa, as couples circle one another. It seems bizarre that I am miles away from England and yet dancing salsa and how people interact with each other on the dance floor seems exactly the same. Most people there were middle-aged with a balance of men and women attending and there was the usual small handful of younger people which sums up the usual demographic in England too. I feel like I am at home as I wait to be asked to dance and yet beyond the dance floor people are conversing in Hungarian and listening to the Spanish lyrics of familiar salsa tunes. A few men unknowingly start talking to me in Hungarian but my Hungarian is practically limited to ‘köszönöm’ which is only useful when you have finished dancing with them and the usual ‘thank-yous’ are exchanged to show your appreciation for the dance. Luckily, however, after the initial embarrassment of saying ‘I am English’ all of the dance partners were able to speak English allowing for some conversation.
Getting down to the dancing, in my first dance, I feel a bit rusty in my Cuban style salsa and I find it difficult to understand his lead even wondering if we are dancing on the same beat. But eventually after some persistence and not giving into my temptation to lead the dance, which usually occurs if things become awkward, it turns out to be a good introduction to salsa in Hungary. Usually, when I go dancing in England there are a handful of very good technical male leads, and although through observation I didn’t feel that there was the same number of dancers up to that standard, the dancers certainly made up for it in enthusiasm which I believe in the end is the key to an enjoyable dance in the social scene. The dancers showed their ability to dance and improvise on their own, echoing my foot patterns in our brief moments apart, and turning me multiple times. Of course, this is only an observation from one place, on one evening, for a couple of hours and therefore, this may not reflect the whole salsa scene in Budapest. As the hour draws to 10:00pm the small, intimate club starts to fill up with dancers making their moves in all areas of the bar. After a few more dances, I decide that I should head back to my hotel, as even though the place seems welcoming and friendly, there is only so much fun you can have when you are on your own, knowing no one in a place where everyone speaks another language.
National Dance In Budapest
On my travels on the Tuesday, I finished my walking tour by Fisherman’s Bastion and try to make my way to Váci Street with my trusty Google Map again and I realise for a second time I am not sure where I am going. I make my way back to Buda Castle and am drawn to the attention of a yellow building which says ‘Nemzeti Tancszinhaz’ and have a strong notion that this a dance centre. I wander in, picking up leaflets all in Hungarian with no hope of understanding them, but getting the sense that contemporary, national, and ballet dance is performed here. From my array of leaflets I was keen to find out about an up and coming dance festival which will be held at the ‘Nemzeti Tancszinhaz’ from April 20th-29th and found this website below very helpful in giving me an insight into the dance work which is accessible to Budapest citizens.
The program of the festival includes a mix of international companies, such as, ‘Group Corpo’ from Brazil, ‘Company Fabrik Potsdam’ from Germany and the Czech South Bohemian Ballet, as well as, Hungarian national dance groups.
If my travels had allowed for it I would have loved to have visited this place again and watched some live dance, because that is what is so beautiful and powerful about dance. It transcends language. As quoted on the website referred to above : ‘The universal language of dance, which brings the body’s knowledge alive.’