As soon as I got there, I could see that the group onstage was Polish by the men’s candy-striped trousers and long blue vests, the dress of a Krakowiak, or Cracovian. I’d worn such a costume when singing with Columbus, Ohio’s Lajkonik ensemble. Soon, they were reliving Śmigus-dyngus, the Easter Monday custom of throwing water on girls—which I’ve blogged about before. In the version of this Michas ensemble of Virginia Beach, the guys get the bucket dumped over their heads. A dance called the Kujawiak, a wreath dance from the region of Kujawy, followed--one of the five so-called “national dances of Poland” with polonaise, krakowiak, oberek,and mazurka.
Later, the Chicago-area Tatra Foundation ensemble did their highlander numbers—just a couple of feet above sea level near the docks, out on Norfolk’s Town Point Park lawn. Since I’ve spent six years of my life on the other side of the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, the harmonies were familiar, as were the costumes.
I got to drink German beer with Germans celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, the brewing purity law, limiting ingredients to water, barley and hops, and mentioned on many labels of imports here in the U.S. Of course, it might have been better to be in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, where Chancellor Merkel marked the occasion by quoting Martin Luther: If you have no beer, you have nothing to drink.
And I enjoyed just chatting with the dozens of nationalities present.
Oh, and one more thing to celebrate: today is the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, my "name day" in many countries. In Slovakia, I'd celebrate by pouring friends shots of slivovica, while female friends and colleagues would like up to kiss me and give me flowers.