Having a ‘Balk’! European-folk lovers boogie at Slope’s Balkan-music festival

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Balkan boogie: Jitterbugs take part in a traditional Balkan line dance.
Bear him out: A musician sports a bear-skin headress.
Balkan ballroom: Golden Fest attracted thousands of Balkan music lovers to Grand Prospect Hall on Friday and Saturday.
Now that’s music: The annual festival showcases more than 50 bands and acts on multiple stages over two nights.

They did the Macedonian mash!

Thousands of concert-goers flocked to Park Slope last weekend for a two-day festival of folk music from southeastern Europe that transformed the dance floor of dream-making venue Grand Prospect Hall into a sea of writhing bodies, an organizer said.

“It was so crowded, it was mosh-able,” said Noel Kropf, a member of the committee that stages Golden Festival.

The Balkan-music bonanza is the city’s largest gathering of its kind, and drew more than 60 world-class bands from across the nation to perform tunes original to countries such as Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro on the ballroom’s five stages.

Golden Festival, which members of local 12-piece band Zlatne Uste began hosting in 1984, kicked-off on Friday with a more-than-hour-long dance workshop, where the would-be movers and groovers learned traditional Balkan boogies, including circle dances Chocheck, Kolo, and the easy-to-master Lenso, Kropf said.

Performers, who are not paid for the gig, took the stages that night and again on Saturday, donating their talent out of passion for the genre and for the opportunity to partake in one of the biggest Balkan-music blowouts this side of Bulgaria, according to Zlatne Uste’s director.

“I guess people wanted to be part of the party and play in front of a huge audience,” said Michael Ginsburg.

And many musicians are not native to southeastern Europe, but nevertheless developed a taste for its native folk tunes that — while excellent — have yet to go mainstream, Ginsberg said.

“Most of the people who played are Americans who took an interest in music and picked it up as a hobby,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 9:32 am, January 17, 2018
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