Ha ha haaaaay! Every year on May 5-6, the Turkish Roman community congregates in Edirne, Turkey, to celebrate the coming of Spring, known as Hidrellez.
A celebratory area outside Edirne is full of color and movement as locals dance to the 9/8 Roman rhythm from afternoon to morning.
Songs are sung constantly accompanied by the duval (drum) and zurna (horn) and the call of Izmirli Erco's "ha ha haaaay" song is frequent.
A large fire burns in the evening. And in the morning people bathe and throw papers containing their wishes into the nearby river for good luck. Women of marital age dress in white gowns to symbolize their readiness for marriage.
Roman people say that jumping over the fire or bathing in the river will purify you of your sins.
Hidrellez is festive, magically unique and oh so fun. Take a bit of cash, as tipping the musicians and dancers is a polite way to say "Thank you for this dance."
Every May, Burcu of Oriental Istanbul has a tour for dancers to the festival, but spaces fill fast—get in quick. Check out the website also for bellydance intensive tours with international master teachers.