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Commenting article: Chalga - Bulgaria's New Face Abroad

Provocative hip-shaking, scanty clothing, lewd lyrics, oriental motifs, fake eyelashes and tons of make-up. The ingredients of Bulgaria’s popfolk music or chalga - as it is derogatorily called - recently made a furore on the pages of foreign media, cementing its status as nothing short of a social phenomenon and a stereotype for Bulgaria.

Did this come that natural?

Days before Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union on January 1, 2007, a high-ranking official at a EU member state embassy in Sofia sarcastically told me that "chalga is what you will bring into the EU". Four years later Bulgarians have proved him wrong, but the cliché about the country persists mostly thanks to the articles that appear in the foreign press.

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#1
temujin - 13 Jul 2010 // 10:42:19

Wasn't chalga banned and censored during communism in Bulgaria?

#2
DP - 13 Jul 2010 // 11:28:53

Chalga did not exist in Bulgaria during or before communism. It is a completely new "art form" born in the post communism period. The music banned during communism was the Western, mainly American dance and song, which was enthusiastically embraced by the young Bulgarian urbanites. Chalga has non of the elements that would have made it unacceptable to the communist. The folk music was very much supported. "Censored" chalga would have fitted perfectly within the communist's society.

#3
CJB - 13 Jul 2010 // 11:50:17

'Days before Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union on January 1, 2007, a high-ranking official at a EU member state embassy in Sofia sarcastically told me that "chalga is what you will bring into the EU". Four years later Bulgarians have proved him wrong'

In what way did Bulgarians prove him wrong? Unless you mean that Bulgarians also brought agricultural gastarbeiters, mafia, etc. But these Bulgarians were already in the EU before 2007...

#4
CJB - 13 Jul 2010 // 12:03:44

"But Bulgaria is not just Azis, just as Germany can not be identified with Oktoberfest or England – with its growing intolerance to immigrants."

Steady on there! One might more fairly say US cannot be identified with Liberace, or England with Boy George...

It is only pop culture. Chalga is hugely popular in BG, whatever we may think about it. In this sense international media are just holding a mirror to Bulgaria. It is not always nice to see yourself as others see you...

#5
Seedy - 15 Jul 2010 // 21:27:18

"Chalga is hugely popular in Bulgaria"? Jeez, my man, you obviously don't live in the same Bulgaria that I do!

I'd stick my neck out and say that most Bulgarians don't give a tinker's cuss for chalga, since it's seen as garbage music enjoyed by No-necks.

That said, I have to admit that "songs" performed by scantily-clad, silicon-enhanced pneumatic ladies DO have a certain attraction.....

#6
NellieotAmerica - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:02:09

Chalga is popular among the working classes, the mutri, and the peasants. Educated, cultured people stay as far away from it as possible. Chalga is a Macedonian or Serbian invention. It came to Bulgaria from some other part of the Balkans and all the ignorant morons love it because it reminds them of folk music from the villages. lol

#7
Seedy - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:07:22

"folk music from the villages"?

Hey, I'm in a village in the UK right now :( and there ain't no folk music here.....

Actually, I'm lying - I have Planeta Folk on satellite! :D

#8
CJB - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:17:49

"I'd stick my neck out and say that most Bulgarians don't give a tinker's cuss for chalga, since it's seen as garbage music enjoyed by No-necks."

"Educated, cultured people stay as far away from it as possible. "

You realise that the majority of Bulgarians are not very well educated nor cultured? Those that are, comprise a tiny, mostly urban minority. The others, don't live in Bulgaria any more!

"Chalga is a Macedonian or Serbian invention. It came to Bulgaria from some other part of the Balkans"

I'm afraid it is very Bulgarian, though it has similarities of course to Serbian turbo-folk, Greek folk pop, and Turkish pop music. "Chalga" literally means to play music in Turkish. Face the reality, we may not like it but it's as Bulgarian as banitsa.

#9
Seedy - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:21:17

B*llsh*t!

Banitca isn't Bulgarian - it's Greek! :~)

#10
NellieotAmerica - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:24:19

Chalga is not a Bulgarian invention. It comes from Macedonia, Serbia, maybe Turkey. The rest of the world agrees with me:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalga

#11
NellieotAmerica - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:25:54

Banitza with spinach is Greek. Banitza with feta cheese is Bulgarian.

Any other questions?

Next!

#12
Seedy - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:34:27

"Banitza with feta cheese is Bulgarian" - oyvay!

And with sirene it's Greek, I suppose? :D

#13
NellieotAmerica - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:38:09

The assumption is that chalga (oriental music) is preferred by people of lower class. Cultured and intelligent people don’t like chalga. What foreigner in their right mind would want to listen to chalga? Imo, this “music” should be banned from playing in public. It is worse than American rap music.

#14
NellieotAmerica - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:43:32

Chalga is sleazy, vulgar music. Brazil has something called "brega" which means cheesy, as in cheap and vulgar. Actually, Brazilian brega music is a lot better than chalga.

#15
Seedy - 15 Jul 2010 // 22:52:59

Does that mean you do or don't like chalga, you cheap and sleazy Nellie?

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