Irish dancing in Minsk

Every guest brings some story to the [corner house](, so whenever I visit I’m confronted by some unexpected mini-world.

A fortnight ago, it was the popularity of Irish dancing in Belarus, as a troupe of dancers from Minsk passed by on their way home from a competition in Duisburg. Apparently step-dancing got started in Belarus at the start of the decade, imported from Moscow(!). It’s since grown rapidly, with teachers brought in from Ireland, and students traveling to international events. Apparently, the Irish dominance at these events is rapidly declining, with dancers from Eastern Europe creeping up the leader-boards.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising, beyond the surreal cross-cultural charm of saturday-night Slavic-Celtic jigs in a Berlin apartment. It fits right into the whole sprawling North European obsession with the middle ages, something you can find everywhere from Norwegian metal bands to Russian forest-lovers. It’s very apparent in Berlin, and presumably much stronger elsewhere in Germany. I’ve not ventured out to any of the numerous re-enactment fairs — an immense cottage industry, or perhaps more accurately a communal labour of love. Being more at home among cities than trees, I content myself with the Wednesday-night medieval music sessions in [Arcanoa](

The Belarusian trend is clearly part of this; the one [English-language description]( I could find is on a site devoted to “Medieval Belarus”.

As for the corner-house, it has lately been packed out by a [family of 12]( making their way on a massive year-long journey across eurasia.

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