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Put on your dancing shoes! A Czech ball experience

After having spent five months in Prague, I came to the conclusion that a foreigner who wants to dive deeper into the Czech culture, has to spend more time out of Prague. One hour away from the capital, you can find some cities like Kolín, Brandýs Nad Labem or Železný Brod.

All of them may not have a beautiful historical centre, however there is definitely some life! And believe me or not, the virtual “barrier” than stands between locals and foreigners is way thinner than in Prague. You just have to push the door of any (if not the only one) local bar in town, and you will soon find yourself drinking some beers and playing table football with random and funny people.

However, the most interesting part was definitely participating in a Czech ball. February is the ball season in the whole Czech Republic. Each organisation, federation, high school… has its own ball, which means that every week-end there is a ball happening somewhere around, whether it is the glass makers’ ball, the firemen’s, or the high school graduates’. For the organisers it is the best way to raise funds, but also to increase their local visibility. For the participants, it is a perfect opportunity to dress up, have fun and socialize whilst drinking a fair amount of beer and wine.

This kind of ball is not common at all in France and neither in Italy, and we were amazed by all these people in pretty dresses and costumes dancing waltz, blues and jive. We tried to follow the rhythm as best as we could, but we were far to reach the level of the dancers. To our defense, I must say that we do not learn these kind of dances at school in France or Italy, unlike every Czech teenager.

For me it was very amusing to consider the event as an external spectator, for it reminded me Milos Forman’s movie “The firemen’s ball”. This film is a satire of a ball organized by the firemen in a small Czech town. Everything is well prepared, nothing happens as planned… I was glad to find what Forman was depicting in his movie with a (big) touch of dramatic irony, in the ball I attended last week-end! Everything was there: the band, the traditional tombola, the Mayor’s speech, the beauty show…

A kind of old-fashioned, but at the same time refreshing experience! And I must say that it was a lot of fun.