When I was a little girl I wanted to be a Gypsy!
It's interesting that Gypsies are very romanticised in Russia - all those long colourful skirts, jingling coin hip sashes, vibrant and sensual dances and songs around the campfire. Gypsies are immortalised in the poems by two of the most famous Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov.
The Gypsies in the noisy throng
Stray Bessarabia around.
Today over the river, long,
They’re lodging in their tents, worn out.
Like freedom their night-resting is –
And peaceful sleep the heavens under.
Between the wagons’ tired wheels,
Covered with rugs, long-used in wonders,
A fire’s flamed. A family’s
Preparing, round it, a dinner;
A horse is grazing in the fields,
Is sleeping, free, a teamed bear-thriller.
(The Gypsies, by Pushkin, translated from Russian by Yevgeny Bonver)
My dream came true just over a year ago, when my friend moved to the Gold Coast (which is a long way from Perth, on the eastern side of Australia). As a farewell bash I invited Jo, her friends and family to a Gypsy Party!!!
We had what we thought to be totally authentic Gypsy food (read: cooked on the open fire), very colourful costumes, fortune telling and absolutely mad dancing till the wee hours of the morning!
I came across an article advertising The Belleville Quartet, a Perth based gypsy jazz string group, playing at the Fremantle Arts Centre. (Fremantle is a funky suburb of Perth, brought to fame in 1983 when Australia won the America's Cup Sailing Competition). The article described the musicians as "drawing inspiration from Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, the Paris scene of the 1930's and cool vintage jazz".
Well, as you might know by now, I love everything Gypsy, everything Paris and everything Jazz!!! You guessed it, on Sunday I dragged my husband to the beautiful lush courtyard of the Fremantle Arts Centre for a picnic and a Gypsy Jazz Session!
I was concerned that it was going to be too hot a day for a picnic (for those in the Northern Hemisphere - summer officially starts in a week in our part of the world). Instead we got rained on twice while trying to enjoy soggy cheese and strawberries and waiting for the concert to start. The program was a little delayed as the musicians were concerned about their instruments getting damp. But then the rain stopped, the sun came out and the show began!
As the Quartet played Gypsy swing, jazz and funky Latin, more and more people got up from their picnic rugs to the dance floor (disguised as the lawn in front of the stage). And so with the acoustic guitar leading, rhythm guitar strumming, bass swinging and violin touching every string of the soul, we spent a fantastically relaxing afternoon under the whispering trees of the Fremantle Arts Centre!