The dutchman and the enchanted boots


Michael van Langeveld, was born in the Netherlands, in 1959. At the age of 20 he  saw for the first time a performance of traditional dances in his hometown and, in the same evening, he decided to become a member of a dance group. So, for the following years, he went every week to learn for an hour and a half the traditional dance steps from countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia: “the first dance I’ve learned has been the so called “slow dance” , a romantic one, beautiful, which made me want to visit this village, Sic, early in the ‘ 89, right after the revolution. However, it was just a crush that i had with traditional dancing, because at the time I had been working for 41 years in the Ministry of Justice, to a court. But I liked so much what I discovered in this village, that I returned year after year. After fourteen years of visits, I decided to shoot a documentary about the dances from Sic. So I ended up buying this old house, where I decided to shoot the film.”

“When we bought the house, I didn’t know it was used as a space for dancing. I was looking for just a nice,  old house to renovate. And the builders from Sic are very adept at making houses, so in a very short time we managed to restore the entire roof. But people don’t realize. It’s new, but looks old. Initially, all the boots were kept inside the house, but I decided to get them out because of the heavy smell that filled the interiors. The old owner asked me one day why are all the boots hanging outside? And I said: “Beloved Lady, because of them, the air becomes too heavy to breathe and we cannot dance. It was a dance house and will remain like this, and when the wind will blow, the boots will begin to dance by themselves. ” The lady brought me the next day many pairs of boots, and I gave her in return a packet of good coffee. Soon, more and more neighbors began to bring their boots, so that now there are a total of 315 pairs. “


To play music!

The first party was in 2005 after the renovation was done and i told the villagers to come and dance but only if they would dressed up in traditional costume. Now, more and more tourists are coming, from countries like Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and especially Hungary, because the traditions of Sic are unique. After two years, Michael confesses that his life is here. Last year he married to a local woman.

Here, in the house where I live, i arranged five rooms as the guesthouse and i created a foundation , in which account the interested persons can make donations so we can pay the musicinas and continue doing this special activities.” I found the last musicians on the street : one makes boots , the other is a shepherd,  and the third is a nomadic gypsy, from a neighbouring village. In the end, the most important thing is that I love what I’m doing now, because my heart is doing most of the work and not the brain.


A village spread on three streets

Sic village is reachable starting from Gherla, a city loaded with history, heading towards Nicula, the monastery village, among the big hills, raw, green forests and scattered houses. The traveler is carried towards the paradise of blue lake, Sacalaia, which breaks the monotony of farmland scenery. You know you’ve arrived when you pass under a large wooden gate decorated with motifs in specific hungarian colors: red and green, that opens your way towards the three streets of Sic, each with a different name and a different story: Felszeg (first Street), Forroszeg (second street) and Csipkeszeg (third Street). On the left, the traveler leaves behind the only bed and breakfast restaurant, “Sovirag”, whose name, “Flower of salt”, carries the memory of the mining activities of  salt extractions from the past, for which Sic was very famous. Because of this mines, for about five centuries, the village had the state of City, until 1884, but of those 6000 inhabitants, today have left approximately 2700: “we have lived here in peace. I always liked to respect the man next to me. But between us, the romanian and hungarians from the village, there was no hate. “. (Jenica, a woman from the village).

I have never thought there will be a time when i could not work

It’s still morning, food is on the stove range, and chickens already walk and make noise in their hen coop. Today, Jenica allowed herself to sleep more. Vasile, her husband, woke up as usual at 5 a.m., following his schedule of a  lifetime, when he had to woke up early to go to work in Gherla, at the prison. And if now there are buses from Sic to Gherla, in the past, Vasile  went to work by bike,  15 km one way and 15 km back. Since he has been operated on heart, he stays more inside the house and helps his wife with the daily activities. He can’t feed the animals like he used to, he can’t milk the cows and he feels useless: “I have never thought there will come a time when i could not work anymore. And now, when I sit on this chiar, i would fly over there, in the garden to work, but i can’t. However, if i didn’t like working all my life, we would have had nothing.



More beautiful then

The gaze of the old lady comes to life while she remembers details of her life from youth. Her hair is caught in a bun , covered with a brown kerchief with geometric patterns, and over her blouse has a waistcoat knitted by herslef. From time to time, she looks at the green showcase where she keeps the photos with her grandchildren, mostly received on an 8 March ocasion, photos of herself, in black and white, with her and Vasile’s families, with the dog, with the farm car,  and two teenage boys (at that time).

Jenica was 16 years old when she married Vasile and he was 19.

“When we were young, when we were boys and girls, we used to gather and go to dance. But that kind of dance, i cannot explain it, so beautiful and different it was. Saturday, people from another village were coming and from noon until evening , we gathered at a home and play and dance all day. The following day, we went walking in the city and in the evenings we went to see movies. These were our free time activities, and even though there were only a few, we had a great time.

These days of fun were very rare, because both Jencia and Vasile had to work from an early age, and not around the house, or in their village, but in the city, in Gherla. And they never wondered: why? Or what else could i had done ? They took life as it has been given to them: Jenica became a maid for a family in Gherla, and Vasile  got hired as workman on the site at a company fom Cluj-Napoca, and after 4 years spent there, he got a job at the penitentiary in Gherla. “

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