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....
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.
'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...
"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...
"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.....
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
"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.
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.
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