Bristol dances in support for Bulgaria Dexte-r
Protests against the government and corruption (July 2013)

For more than 100 days now, protests in Bulgaria have been ongoing.

Some years have passed since Simeon Sakskuburgotski, the former Bulgarian prime-minister, declared that he would restore order back into the country, in exactly 800 days. Since then, however, not many issues seem to have been put to order and citizens are desperate for a new beginning. Recent protests represent the struggle towards advancing such a new beginning – independent from the well-known politicians, that have repeatedly disappointed the nation, and wanting to bring in new fresh faces to replace them.

The whole world can see just how vital this new beginning is. On the 22nd September, the day which marks the 105th anniversary of the signing of the Bulgarian Declaration of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, around 30 cities throughout the world displayed their support for the people of this Balkan country.

According to information from Bristol City Council dating from April 2013, Bristol has 184 Bulgarian residents. Despite the fact that this is a small number in proportion to the total population of the city, on Sunday, Bristol was one of the 30 world cities that "danced with Bulgaria" (the hash tag of the protests - #ДАНСwithme - can be read as “Dance with me”). 

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The second #ДАНСwithme protest in Bristol was attended by around 20 people. What was interesting was to understand who these people were: among the participants, there were British, German and Bulgarian citizens, from different backgrounds and age groups.

The main organizer was Englishman Tom Philips, who has just just returned from a trip to the Balkans and is fascinated by the region. Since "ДАНС" can be read as “dance,” showing the world some Bulgarian dances was a logical step. Surprisingly, the horo (traditional Bulgarian dance) was led by the American Emily Nisbet, currently living in Bristol, and founder of the Balkan Dance House in the city. Not all of the horos went on smoothly, but there is not one single easy revolution.

Both Emily and Tom have experienced Bulgaria and its culture, and are fascinated by them. Precisely because they have come to understand some of the main defining features of the Bulgarian people, seeing beyond prejudices and stereotypes set by the media, they were not surprised when half of the participants who attended the event actually arrived after the horo was finished. They came simply to take part in the fruitful discussions relating to different current issues affecting the Bulgarian society.

Punctuality is a quality that most Bulgarians should develop - just like democracy.  

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Edited by: Margarida Hourmat
Photo Credits: Sofiya Stoyanova & Dexte-r via Flickr