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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 40 | volume VIII | January-February, 2005



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 40January-February, 2005
Essays

The Balkans are Somewhere Else

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p. 1
Igor Štiks

    Recently, several of my friends from the former Yugoslavia started a band and now they are having a lot of success playing “Gypsy Music from the Balkans” in Paris bars and clubs. Perhaps it would be superfluous to mention than not one of them is a Rom, and that the music they play is, for the most part, Bosnian, Serbian, and Macedonian, with a sufficient number of gypsy hits to legitimate the band’s name and to advertise it as authentically gypsy and Balkan. When I accuse them of inauthenticity, they laugh at me and tell me to forget about such trivial details. Basically, they insist, who here knows what we’re playing, no one notices when we change languages, and if people would rather think that they’re listening to gypsy songs and not to Bosnian ones, who has the right to disappoint them? To figure out whose music is whose, who borrowed what from whom, who influenced whom, and who is, en fait, a real Balkan gypsy seems to them a waste of time, and, as they note, a question without a definite answer. We are all Balkans here, pal, and if that means we even have to be Rom in order to get the Western dreams fired up, then it is to everyone’s benefit. Anyway, can’t you see how many people are coming to our concerts? Or have your glasses fogged up amidst the crowds, or maybe someone stepped on your foot and so now you’re splitting hairs and moralizing?!
    Yes, yes, they lectured me but good, I have to admit. Still, I refused to give up the idea that you can’t cook up a convincing soup forever out of some fraudulent invented Balkans. I decided to invite my French friend Juliette to one of their concerts. She is a well-educated and charming girl, and I thought that she would confirm my belief and show my Balkan friends that Western naiveté does have some limits, after all. And so, one evening we headed off to a concert of those “Balkan Gypsies,” and sat down in a spot from which, unnoticed, we could watch the situation develop, and where the noise level was low enough not to drown out my enlightening commentary. At first I decided to let the girl come up with her own opinion regarding what was happening right before her eyes. But after the first song Juliette simply could






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