Shoulder dancing baba

I’ve heard a lot of stories about Sveti Nikole’s sole club.

Other trainee friends have gone with their host siblings. My host siblings aren’t really into the club scene. It doesn’t get good until after their bed time.

I finally experienced Art Bar Saturday night. It had been a long day. We drove to the capital city for a picnic/meet and greet with currently serving volunteers and had some time to check out Skopje.


We saw the Nesquik bunny in the park. We’re adults.

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We’re in the capital city once a week for training sessions, but we have limited time to explore. On those days, we leave around 6:30 a.m. and get home around 9:30 p.m.

I’m a баба (grandma), so I’m normally in my pj’s and ready for bed by 9:45 p.m. (Unless my favorite soap is on. Cила ran away from her husband, so now he has to kill her. Oh, and she might be pregnant.)

Saturday, I stayed out until 3:30 a.m. with my friend Rachel and her host sister. (My ears may still be ringing, but I’m not sure.)

It was a blast, but it was very different from the night life I’ve experienced in the U.S. The place we started at is a coffee shop by day. Saturday night, there was a band playing (two dudes, two guitars) and a strobe light.

I thought they were great, but Rachel’s host sister said the music they played was terrible.

We hadn’t noticed. We were too busy congratulating ourselves every time we understood what a phrase meant.

(There was also a bowl of raisins on our table, but I think someone brought those from home.)


We tried to order a beer at the bar, but after we paid, someone shooed us away. A waiter brought them over to us a few minutes later. It seemed strange to me, especially in a country where tipping isn’t expected.

It was fun to hang out with Rachel’s host sister and her group of friends. None of them could have been older than 20, but they were very nice. (In Macedonia, the drinking age is 18. I’ve never seen anyone carded.)

One friend wanted to practice her English, which we welcomed, rather than struggle through Macedonian over the loud music.

It was a basic conversation until she asked my age.

She reacted to the news that I’m 27 like she was watching a cartoon dinosaur come to life. Her eyes widened, she stared, and then she told all her friends. (There was a lot of laughter and pointing.)

That’s me. Баба the dinosaur.

The lights came on at 12:45 a.m., the universal signal that it’s time to leave. But it wasn’t time to go home.

The Art Bar doesn’t open before midnight.

About a block away, the entire bar vibrated with the techno music inside. Again, we didn’t order drinks at the bar. We crowded around a table and a waiter periodically stopped by.

We also didn’t dance.

There was a lot of shoulder dancing, some arm shimmies and a periodic fist pump, but not much movement from the waist down. One of the girls in our group told me that there is more dancing in the bigger cities, like Skopje, but it doesn’t happen in Sveti. She said everyone knows everyone and people would be embarrassed to really dance.

Rachel and I agreed that it seemed like a lot of people were just dying to drop it low. No one did.


It was an interesting experience at Art Bar. I was one of the oldest women in the room, and the women were far outnumbered by men of all ages. (And I mean ALL ages.)

One of the teenage guys in our group started talking to me, asked my name and how old I was. When I told him 27, he turned and walked away. (Ouch.) I suppose that was balanced out when the other teenage-looking boy asked his friend to ask me for my number. (Spoiler alert: I told his friend to tell him no.)

They played nothing but techno until 3 a.m. The DJ said they might play something with words at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., but even if they had, I would have been too tired to appreciate it.


I was surprised to see what the women (okay, teenagers) were wearing. Almost everyone was in heels and some of the dresses made me blush.

My feet were tired in flats. Rachel’s poor sister slowly plodded out of the bar when we left, doing the dinosaur walk. (Think T-rex steps.)

I asked her if she was going to take them off. (I pictured nights after dancing in NYC that ended barefoot, sitting on the floor of Penn Station, eating Taco Bell.)

She said she would never do that.

Brave woman.


2 thoughts on “Shoulder dancing baba

  1. Love the pics of the capital!! As an aside, my aunt and uncle were in Greece this summer and the rural population there apparently has a similar affinity for high heels and dresses, even though its not exactly the same geographic/cultural neighborhood.

    I dont remember all the details but they were there for a wedding. They said in the days leading up to it, every woman in town was in a community kitchen baking and cooking, IN HEELS AND FORMAL DRESSES. During the wedding, they all proceeded through town to the church, in heels and formal dresses, and then danced traditional dances all night in, yep, heels and formal dresses. No one ever took them off.
    Apparently European women have stronger feet and willpower then us Puritans.


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