Michael's Csarda

About me. ... after all, isn't that what a vanity page is for?

Web Master at Play

Me, at play, surrounded by Diana Leigh (of Crazy Rhythm) and Aswin van den Berg, Ithaca West Coast Swing dance teacher.

Alas, the picture is quite old. Most of 10 years old, in fact. I was at this time flirting with going beardless, having been a bearded soul most of my life. By some coincidence, Aswin had no beard at this time either. Diana never did.

I have a beard again. A goatee. Maybe some day I'll find a picture of me that's suitable for web posting. But I'm basically shy.

Aswin is now in Chicago, married, with child.

Diana is still in Ithaca, still playing in her band.

This picture was sent to me, anonymously, from somewhere in the southwest. On the back, it says "What is this man amazed at?" No photo credit, because the photographer won't 'fess up.

I bid you Welcome,
Web Wanderer,
To my Inn.
For whether you arrived here
Directly or circuitously,
intentionally or fortuitiously,
mysteriously or in full knowledge,
you are free to explore the rooms
in my tiny contribution to the global village.

Like inn-keepers of old, I can help you find a few things. But if these aren't the places you want to go, I may not be able to help you more.

About the name of my Inn

The word Csardas (pronounced chardash) is one of the few Hungarian words to escape it's language boundaries and become common in western languages. It is now considered by outsiders "the Hungarian National Dance", although few Hungarians outside folk dance circles can actually do anything that looks much like one. In it's time, the csardas was considered a lascivious and riské dance.

However, that's not the word in the title. That word is Csarda and it means tavern or inn. Clearly, they are related, but how? Popular wisdom says that the csardas was the dance you did in the csarda. Another theory is that this was the sort of dance you would do with the sort of woman you would find unescorted in the csarda (apologies to the politically correct amongst us, but this was another culture and another time).

In any case, Michael's Csarda is the name that has been on every apartment door I've lived behind since the late '70s, and still is on my bedroom door at the cottage. It is meant to honour two greats in North American Folk Dance, Michael Herman (the "Michael") and Andor Czompo. Michael was one of the pioneers of recreating and preserving European folk dance in North America. Andor was a major force in bringing Hungarian folk dance (which is very different from the dances of the Balkans) into the North American folklore main stream. He choreographed a dance in Michael's honour called "Michael's Csardas".

And now it's time to pay tribute to another folk influence in my life. A few days ago (December, 2005), I received news that Dick Crum had died. Dick's teachings and attitudes are a large part of why I moved to Europe for several years. Dick believed that you couldn't study, learn, appreciate and understand a dance without knowing the culture from which it arose. Dick himself had travelled extensively in the areas from which he taught dances. So during the time I lived in Europe, I spent considerable time away from my work travelling in Hungary, and a short amount of time in Yugoslavia as well, mostly Macedonia.

I especially like this quote, repeated by Dick many times to break people out of their dance snobbishness:

Beginning dancer:  Knows nothing. 
Intermediate dancer:  Knows everything, too good to dance with beginners. 
Hotshot dancer:  Too good to dance with anyone. 
Advanced dancer:  Dances everything, especially with beginners.

Where are the Inns on the Internet?

The Internet can be a difficult place to explore, with many dark, twisty passages all the same but leading in different directions. Just like travelling from village to village in the days of old. The Internet is my candidate for the best example of Marshall McLuhan's Global village, but where's the village Inn?

It's your turn. What do you have to say? Write to me.

Michael Wagner. This page Last update June 2006 for squeezebox.