THE GYPSY Bashavel, which has become part of the busy western Slovak summer festival schedule, will return this year on August 29 to its original venue at Červený Kameň Castle in Častá. Starting in 2009 as “the zero year”, it drew around 2,500 attendees in its first official year in 2010 (both times at the castle). Last year, a scaled-down version called Mini-Bashavel was organised in Senec, just outside Bratislava. This year the picturesque Červený Kameň Castle, also close to the capital, will once again host the festival in its original size.
Apart from presenting Roma culture to the wider public, the Bashavel (which in Roma means feast) provides a platform for young Roma talents, who study and train in the Divé Maky (Wild Poppies) programme. The programme picks young Roma who excel in music, dance, fine arts, theatre or sports, and supports them throughout the school year, as well as during a summer “academy”, an intense workshop that prepares a selection of them to perform at the Bashavel, alongside seasoned professional performers. Art created by Divé Maky students is auctioned off each year at the Bashavel.
This year’s festival will also feature a sampling of Roma cuisine, a demonstration of traditional Roma crafts, and workshops presented by Divé Maky students. The main stage will be devoted to an array of performances, including a dance production by Libuše Bachratá, and live music by Kal (Rock’n’Roma from Serbia), the Sendreiovci – Kokavakere Lavutára, the Gypsy Devils, Para, Anita Soul, Oskar Rózsa Band, Edy Portella, Gulo čar, Bitumen Beat and After Phurikane, which collects and adapts ancient Roma songs, while bringing together six untrained Roma singers, two Slovak professional musicians and an Afro-Slovak percussionist.
The proceeds will go toward next year’s festival, and more information can be found at www.divemaky.sk. The organisers stress that the theme of this year’s festival will be “surprising musical fusions”, jokingly referring to it as “The In-fusion” Bashavel.