Folk Dance T-Shirts

By Lou Pechi


Lou Pechi logo The other day I finally decided to clean out my closet. One of the first challenges was a drawer full of folk dance T-shirts I accumulated over the years dancing.

The red T-shirt with the inscription "ORO" brings memories of a remarkable folkdance teacher Ciga Despotović. Unknowingly, my wife and I stumbled into a master class, in which neither of us belonged, which Ciga was giving in Santa Cruz during his first United States teaching tour. After paying in advance and driving up from San Jose, we decided to stay. One of the Oro's he taught required that everyone's head bob in unison from side to side. I can still see Ciga's stare as he turned around after we bobbed in the wrong direction bumping our two heads with a loud thump. We really hurt, but both of us were not only scared, but too embarrassed to say anything and just smiled with a "Cheshire Cat" smile, as if nothing happened.

The next T-shirt is a Bulgarian Team World Cup soccer shirt I picked up in Chicago during one of our visits. The team did not do too well in the competition, but I enthusiastically rooted for my fellow players. Maybe they could have done better with a Pravo or a Rŭčenica.

A red T-shirt with Laguna Folkdance Festival pictures a lovely group of costumed folk dancers. I don't remember which festival this came from, but I recalled the great times we had at the many festivals we did attend.

I uncover a well-worn, Копривщица 95" (Koprivshtica 95 in Cyrillic writing) T-shirt, which I inherited from Gene Lovejoy who died shortly after his trip to Bulgaria. I could have gone on that trip, and spent many an hour dancing with my good friend, but being involved in the corporate world pressures would not take three weeks of vacation. That T-shirt not only reminds me of Gene but also that I need to live my life to the fullest every day.

Then, there is a recent green T-shirt from "Dancing on the Water." I seldom wear it. Green is not my color, but just looking at the T-shirt reminds me of the great times we had dancing in Vietnam and Cambodia with Lee Otterholt.

A red T-shirt with a great yellow sun with Macedonian dancers holding the rays of sunshine proclaims the words of the song: "Oro, Pesn, Solnce i Ljubov, Tova, e Makedonia" (Song, Dance, Sun, and Love - this is Macedona) and brings memories of another wonderful teacher, Atanas Kolarovski.

A well-worn black T-shirt showing a line of men dancing in one direction and the women leading a line in the other, either comes from a week-long Caribbean folkdance cruise we took with Yves and France Moreau or is it the one we bought at one of the festivals and which prompted us to take that cruise?

A very formal, but dear polo shirt hangs on a hangar. It is just plain white, but embossed in it's front is an image of a red and white checkered Croatian tie known by the French as cravat, or "Alla Croat" after the scarves worn by the Croatian soldiers during the Napoleonic times in Paris.

As I pick up my last and favorite Paprika-red Conejo Valley folk dance shirt showing the silhouettes of some my friends dancing, I realize that it is not only getting dark, but also that these T-shirts are too valuable to donate or throw away.

I carefully fold them and put them back in the drawers. A full closet is like a mind full of good memories; the longer they stay the better they get.


As appearing in "Dancing with Two Left Feet (29)," Folk Dance Scene.
Used with permission of the author.