Best update on the old country (2008)

Balkanalian Brunch

During last year's King Gypsy Rocker Massive, event producer Sxip Shirey saw a 16-year-old punk rock kid folk-dancing with someone's grandmother. Feeling nostalgic for the potlucks and community square dances of his youth and inspired by the inclusive nature of Eastern European cultural events, Shirey decided to start throwing family barbecues. The first Balkanalian Brunch featured Zagnut Orkestar—the six-piece Balkan brass band—and Shirey's own Luminescent Orchestrii. Even in the unlikely confines of Union Pool, the combination of sun, music, and meat seemed to have the desired effect. When Matthew Fass, the Zagnuts' accordion player, offered basic folk dance instructions, the typically staid Brooklyn crowd leapt to its feet and danced as if born to it. Vule Dabetic, the passionate Serbian chef who cooked throughout the previous night, found himself treated like a superstar. Young and old alike sucked the juice from their fingertips so that they could applaud his excellence. Four poets offered tribute with spoken-word epics regarding meat, while well-fed men lolled in the corners of the garden patting their bellies. By the time dusk had fallen, the crowd was sweaty, sleepy, and completely without shame or pretense. Perhaps there is something liberating and intoxicating about the smell of swine. Or perhaps the presence of dancing children does something to erode the hipster's preternatural need to look cool. Whatever the reason, the Balkanalian Brunch straddled the old world and the new chic with heartwarming ease.


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