Day 45 of 80 — Bal Folk

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I  have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be  my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 45: Bal Folk

A sunny afternoon in Hyde Park. Rendez-vous at the bandstand. The park is massive, the bandstand minuscule so it takes me a while to find. On the way I notice messy families, besotted couples, rushed office workers, acrobats on wheels, street jugglers and amongst the flower beds, a few lost daydreamers.

Finally, I see it: the bandstand, hiding under the trees across the road. I get closer: here they are. All the other “bal folk“ lovers. Next to them on the ground, a few instruments, an anarchic pile of coats and bags and, in the spirit of the authentic French “bals”, an improvised buffet of summery picnic food. Everything’s in place, the ball’s ready to start. But the musicians debate (“which tune should we play?”).

Finally, they come to an understanding: it’s a waltz —a safe bet for a smooth beginning. Couples are formed and start moving slowly; already women’s dresses are whirling gently. A joyous jumble of legs and feet with mixed levels of dexterity and style. Some of the beginners struggle, but never mind, there’s always someone to help those in distress. Already a helping hand has been extended (“come dance with me would you? It’s easy: I’ll show you”).

And just like that, London turns into a village. A lovely side-effect of these “Clandestine Mazurka”.

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