I wouldn’t normally have considered a post about Turkey as its somewhere you are probably reasonably familiar with, but it provided a suitable contrast to the atmosphere of city life I experienced in the neighbouring Caucasus.
The instant I stepped off the bus in the port city of Trabzon on a Sunday afternoon it was obvious that it had a vitality which was missing throughout the Caucasus. Just the simple heart beat of everyday life hummed with an enthusiasm and more of a smile to put the rest of the region to shame. Until late in the evening many shops were open, streets and outdoor cafes were filled with excitable chatter under the incandescent neon pulse.
Monday dawned with the same hive of activity. A stage had been set up in a central square for Republic Day, with a number of stalls celebrating regional culture: cheeses; fabrics and the paraphernalia of rural life. Soon troupes of girls in varying styles of traditional dress performed polite dances, hand in hand in neat rows to the accompaniment of a simple spike fiddle, whose variants are found throughout central Asia.
I returned at 3pm to discover that things had kicked up a notch considerably: the sounds of the fiddle remained but were backed by the digital beats of a pounding kick drum hurtling along at a hardcore techno pace. This high velocity combination can be found in a myriad of forms throughout the world, taking elements of ones generation’s music into the clubs and parties of the new ones.
The enthusiastic crowd of dancers, while mostly young included all generations and moms in full Islamic requirement dress code, only the hands and the oval of their faces framed by headscarves revealed any flesh. A crowd no doubt comfortable with religious restrictions on intoxicants moved with a joy and vigour that Yerevan failed to find on its Saturday night birthday celebrations.
Thirty minutes later the beat hammered on relentlessly, not having dropped out for an instant in that time but the dancers showed no inclination for flagging as people whooped, hollered and clapped whenever the fiddle track reached a particularly demented intensity.
Who knows how long they had been dancing for when I arrived. Brits would have had to have been up to the eyeballs in industrial grade stimulants to keep this pace up.
This was all on a Monday afternoon, God only knows what a Saturday night ıs like in Trabzon