Symptoms include dry mouth caused by strained vocal chords and slivo shots, increased appetite for garlic-infused anything, and palpitations in ⅞ time. If left untreated, withdrawal symptoms may only last 3-5 days. While not life-threatening, treatment is recommended. Availability of natural remedies may vary depending on your location. The following is how one patient is currently living a fulfilling life with PBCD.
In August of 2013, I spent a week completely focused on intense learning and non-digital socializing, almost completely disconnected from outside work and family responsibilities. I didn’t even know what was going on in the daily news. It was refreshing but also jarring. That week at camp I played violin (which I already played before, but hadn’t touched in a couple of years), had a crash course at playing the santouri, and on my last day at camp fell in love with the tapan. I danced Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian, Serbian, and some form of free-movement bird-like improvisation in the wee hours of the night at the Kafana. The Monday after camp I was back at my desk job, slouching over my computer on an ergonomic chair. Friends asked where I was for a week, and I found it difficult to describe. They seemed genuinely excited and envious of my courage to try something new and step out of my comfort zone. They said they would have loved to do something like that if only they didn’t have to worry about blah, blah, blah. The conversation would veer back to complaints about not ever having enough time to do everything, dreaming of exotic places to travel to, and which bar or restaurant to try out next week. That’s when the symptoms started to sink in.
Step 1: Ask for help. If camp-life is a drug, Emily Cohen is my doctor and my dealer. She encouraged me to attend my first camp, so it was only natural to ask her how else I could stay involved. She had a wealth of knowledge about existing folk dance groups (like Folk Dance Fridays or Central Park dancers), other camps (like World Camp), and community resources. She even let me borrow a great book, Balkan Fascination, which I admit I still have not returned. I also asked my friends at the Greek American Folklore Society for help connecting to local musicians, opportunities to catch more music and dance, and began attending dance sessions more often. I had almost forgotten how important it was for me to have music and dance be a consistent part of my life. Anastasia Tsantes and Vaia Allagianis continue to be my Greek dance mentors and always help me stay involved with the Greek community. You are reading this blog right now because someone introduced you to this community. Who are they and how can they help you stay involved?
Step 2: Choose one treatment at a time. After meeting with my camp doctor, I found that with too many options I was more likely not to do anything. I had to pick one thing to focus. At camp, I had already made a plan to continue taking skype lessons with Beth Bahia Cohen, so I continued with that. While I really enjoyed playing the violin again, I missed the tapan. I decided to make that my focus began attending tapan classes with the Young Bulgarian Voices of New York’s 101 Kaba Gaidi i Tupani. During my first year, my lessons with Ivailo Kuchev inspired me to even buy a drum that he made. It was an investment, but one that solidified my commitment to this new instrument. Even though I do not speak Bulgarian, I found the community very welcoming, and that communication in art transcends words. The drum classes are now taught by the infamous Mersid “Semka” Mustafov and our drum circle feels like a second home. Which instrument, art medium, or community ignited a fire you didn’t know existed? Even if it’s a completely new style, try focusing on that one first.
Step 3: Hair of the dog. I’m so glad that I live in New York City, so that I can easily attend GoldenFest each January. I was able to volunteer in the kitchen my first year in order to offset the cost of the ticket. In following years, I performed with YBVNY and use my guest ticket to introduce my friends and family to this crazy Balkan scene. I recommend you select your signature event at approximately the 6-month mark to tide you over from one camp to the next. If you’re on the west coast, you might want to join Edessa and friends at Ashkenaz for New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, save up for the next Balkan Camp. Strategies include stuffing money in a jar every month (I use an old Tsipouro canister), using apps like Digit that stealthily squirrel away money without your noticing, or ask family and friends to “donate” to your camp fund in lieu of physical gifts at holidays and birthdays. How will you get your mid-year fix?
Need an emergency dose of fun? Join me at one of these events.
I hope my writing has not offended those dealing with illness. My involvement in the Balkan community has improved my own wellness, both mentally and physically. This article is light-hearted, but I hope it has touched your heart in some way.
Written by Michelle Tsigaridas Weller
Photo by Alevrontas