BATON ROUGE INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS
It is hard to believe but the first five years of the new millennia have passed quietly by. The year 2005 is coming fast and believe it or not it has been five years since all the worry and hassle of Y2K. BRIFD has continued to thrive over the years and we are ending another memorable year of dance. We owe a lot to our beautiful and spacious wooden dance floor at the LSU Huey P. Long Field House but especially to our loyal members who dedicate their Friday nights to keeping folk dance alive in Baton Rouge. We also continue to be thankful to our LSU Faculty sponsor, Dr. Terry Worthy who in addition provides her office closet for the storage of our tapes and equipment. The weather always seems to get some play in these newsletters and this year was no different. We had several big rainfall events beginning early in the year and continuing into the fall. The accumulation this year has exceeded the average, which is the first time we have had a surplus of rain in several years. This is too much rain for my patio and yard the latter of which stayed soggy up until the last few weeks. The rest of the weather story was the lingering warm fall weather. It was as if summer just didn’t want to let go of its grip this year but in the end old man winter won out. As we approach Christmas, the weather has turned cold with a vengeance.
Our annual Fish Fry went on as scheduled on Labor Day Saturday at the home of Bruce and Anita Evans. A good crowd showed up and provided a bunch of potluck goodies to go with the fish. We did some of the redfish this year “on the half shell” and that seem to stir up a lot of comment. This technique works well on the larger redfish and other large scaled fish and involves leaving the skin and scales on after cleaning. The firm fish fillet cooks to perfection in the “shell” on the grill. Soaking the fillet and shell in a zesty Italian salad dressing before hand completes the process. Then top the grilled fillet when removed from the shell with some of Ann Lynn’s fish sauce and you have something out of the ordinary. We also had some more of Bruce’s tuna again this year and the usual fare of trout, drum and redfish fried in peanut oil. This is always a great way to start the fall after the long hot summer.
We have had some real lively Friday night dances this fall and on occasion have had nearly 25 people on the dance floor. But even when we are down to less than 15 the dancing goes on until after 10PM. We have seen a little less of our resident Turk Zeki Bahadir this fall because Zeki has graduated from LSU and gotten a job teaching biology and nutrition at the Baton Rouge Community College. Unfortunately he teaches most Friday evenings but we are glad the Zeki got a job so he can continue to live in Baton Rouge and dance with us when he can. We have also enjoyed the dance company of Tom Goodale our resident Celt who keeps us on our toes with his bare feet dancing.
Both Zeki and Tom have traveled to their home countries recently and we are always eager to hear their travel stories. There has been a change of venue this fall for our after dancing pizza and beer. We have been traveling to the Pastime Bar and Restaurant, a historic sports bar, which has served Baton Rouge since the forty’s. It comes complete with LSU sports pictures and memorabilia on the walls and big screen TV but the pizza comes in great variety, as does the beer.
Once again the BRIFD dancers and Karpaty Dance Ensemble participated in the Annual Hungarian Harvest Dance Celebration, which is held in the Hungarian Settlement near Albany, Louisiana on the first Saturday in October. Although the Hungarian dancing and music is the highlight of the Celebration, there is always some good Hungarian food and crafts available. Nothing like a well dressed kolbasz poboy or some homemade cabbage rolls. Not to mention those tasty Hungarian pastries! The Hungarian Band Elefta once again entertained the attendees at the Celebration. And as always they kept a lively Hungarian beat that kept our attention and was a call for many of us to the dance floor. The Karpaty performance featured some Andor Czompo choreographies under the direction of Vonnie Brown. The women looked superb as always in their Slovakian Tekov skirt, vest and blouse. The men had to put on their gatyas this year to do the Hungarian Stick Dance and we always look the part with our original sticks, and black vests, hats and boots. Unfortunately, I got my stick caught in my blousy shirtsleeves, which forced me to change the chorography a bit. But alas I know that Bruce has it all on tape so I won’t forget it! A highlight for us is doing Kevi Czardas and Gensi Verbunk with the local Hungarian Harvest Dancers. And also we enjoy the Harvest Dances themselves that are still a treat after all these years of seeing them performed.
Octoberfest activities were somewhat limited this year due to circumstances out of our control! BRIFD members had a lot of conflicts with work and family commitments and I was one of them. I had to drive to New Orleans for a meeting on Sunday afternoon and was not able to make the Robert’s Cove Oktoberfest Celebration that is one of my favorites. However, Jim and Idabelle Burke did go on Sunday October 3 following the Saturday Hungarian Celebration and reported another good time and reunion of sort with the Alpenfest Band from Houston. Jim and Idabelle had taken a European tour with the Alpenfest Band in past years. This was the first year at the new location of the former “Ponchatoula” Oktoberfest. It has been moved to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. BRIFD dancers went to the Saturday and Sunday activities and found the same good Oktoberfest food and dance as in Ponchatoula with our favorite Stratton Mountain Boys as one of the featured bands. However, the recent unfortunate and untimely closure of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center will necessitate yet another move for this favorite Oktoberfest event for next year. Idabelle and Jim Burke also attended the Texas Wurstfest event this year and reported that this venerable old Texas tradition is a big as ever.
The annual BRIFD Christmas Party had a change of venue this year due to Bruce Evans’ surgery. Bruce is doing fine, however, and has been keeping us up on his recovery through his website and emailing. Anita Evans has also kept us informed of Bruce’s progress. We could not replace the warmth and tradition of the Evans’ home as the location for our Christmas Party. Many wonderful memories are found in their cozy kitchen, dining room and around the warmth of their fireplace for the gag gift exchange. However, we did continue the tradition this year at Roman’s Greek-Lebanese Café. A spirited group of 24 dancers and guests attended. We ordered party packs of chicken shawarma, gyros, rice pilaf, hommous, feta salad, Grecian sauce and pita bread. Drinks included Lebanese Iced Tea and wine. The gag gift exchange caused the usual stir and laughter. Zeki Bahadir was attending his first BRIFD Christmas Party but I noted that his gift might have had the most exchange! Sam Irving, son of BRIFD and Karpaty dancer Mary Irving, held court with me at the other end of the long table and was a true life of the party helping me keep everyone in line. We also were glad to see a lot of friendly faces at the party that we hadn’t seen in a while or since the fish fry. Accolades go to Ralph McDonald who drove up from New Orleans and Bill LeBlanc who came straight to the party after 12 hours at work.
There is one other newsworthy note. BRIFD dancers Ed and Jo Zganjar were given the “Best Lighting” award by the Kenilworth Civic Association for their Christmas light contest this year. If you haven’t driven by Ed and Jo’s house at 435 Kenilworth and seen the light display then you should set aside some time to do so. Ed had discussed his “big star” with some of us last year but has outdone himself this year. There are lights everywhere! The Zganjar’s house and light display is on the westbound lane of the Kenilworth Parkway between Boone Drive and Highland Road.
The dance schedule for BRIFD for the rest of 2004 and beginning of 2005 is as follows:
There will be no folk dancing on Friday December 24 or 31 for the Christmas and New Years Holidays.
Friday night folk dancing will resume on January 7 and the first party night of the New Year will be on Friday January 28.
So come and pass a good time and include Friday night dancing with BRIFD in your new years resolutions this year! We need everyone committed to Friday nights so we can get the most out of the folk dance experience. You do make a difference. And remember to check the BRIFD website at www.brifd.homestead.com/index.html. Put it on your favorites and get used to using it. I will be working closer with Webmaster Bill LeBlanc to keep the calendar updated and to post all the newsletters. Bill has told me he is looking for suggestions to make the website even better so if you have any comments email Bill. Seasons Greetings everyone and a Happy New Year!