There's lots or idle talk among me and the roommates about moving from our dour, relatively treeless street down to modern Moda (where foreigners and rich people live!)--however, I would miss the old neighborhood which still has vestiges of the old city that pop up now and then. (During Ramadan, for instance, a boy comes just before dawn with a drum to announce the morning meal before the fast begins).
To wit, this morning, I heard a zurna start up outside (the zurna is a kind of Turkish horn). Then a jaunty, gypsy drum beat. I went on my balcony with the rest of my neighbors to see a man out in the street wearing a skirt hung with brightly colored tassles--red, yellow, blue, green. He had finger cymbals and was whirling around in front of a car which was frantically honking its horn. The man with the drum was step dancing around him while the zurna player did his jig on the sidewalk. The two musicians were old and bald, the dancer had a huge helmet of air and kept dropping a handkerchief, then bending over backward to pick it up with his teeth. The whole street came out to watch. We gathered on the sidewalks, on the balconies, stuck our heads out of our cars. The drummer is wearing a dour dark suit with a leather skirt around his waste--not a lady skirt like the dancer but a Greek warrior skirt like Brad Pitt in Troy. All this is taking place in front of the Hunter and Fisher's Association, where I usually see stubbled men sipping tea and playing backgammon beneath the gaping heads of stuffed deer, badgers, fish and a whole variety of other varmints.
I texted Delal, said good morning, and asked her what the hell this was. It's a dance called the köçek, she said. A few minutes on the internet learned me real good all about it. It's mostly associated with Kastamonu these days and is danced on special occasions--a la weddings, graduations, that sort of thing. In the old days, it was part of Istanbul's party culture. Men and women were not allowed to hang together, and so a man got stuck playing the part of belly dancer, decked out in the full regalia of a gypsy dansöz. The dude spinning below only has the skirt and finger cymbals. He's as skinny as a piece of plywood and has a huge head (the size exacerbated by his moussed up hair) which seems to lob backward from the sheer weight of it as he dances.
Here's a link to a video.