Sydney Festival: Band of Gypsies

Last night was a hyper-joyful night of Sydney Festival folk music at the Enmore Theatre.

The first act – which I did not know about – was of a style called Shangaan Electro, hyper-fast electro dance from South Africa. The group of four dancers and singers, and one DJ, carried on the most hyperkinetic dancing I’ve ever seen for a solid 30 minutes. It was dizzying and tiring to watch. The dancers moved with such joy you couldn’t look away; it also helped that the men wore orange jumpsuits with ridiculously fake beer bellies. The beats flew at breakneck speed. It became almost psychedelic.

The main acts, collectively named Band of Gypsies, were comprised of Romanian folk troupe Taraf de Haïdouks and Macedonian brass band Kočani orkestar. They played song after song of gypsy music: wild violins, three accordions, tubas, clarinets, and lots more. It was a Balkan/middle eastern/Slavic/Latin amalgam of high-energy Romani epics. Bows were flying, fingers were snapping, trumpets were blaring. Everyone took their solos, and a few would occasionally sing. It was irrepressibly jubilant. It was the gypsy spirit.

It’s hard for me to imagine seeing either of these sort of acts here at any other time. Way to go, Sydney Festival.