Traditional Turkish Folk Performances at Turkish Night7 February, 2011
The Turkish Night experience is one of the most touted activity in any region of Turkey and you will surely find it featured in any city tourism brochures from Istanbul all the way to even Goreme. What you get in each city is very similar – promise of unlimited drinks and folk dance performances from different Turkish cultures. We took on a Turkish Night package for 50TL (= 50 SGD) which included return transfers from hotel to the Turkish Night venue (in the famous pottery town of Avanos – 15 minutes drive away), dinner, unlimited drinks and of course the performances. The Turkish Night was perfect for our part of the Turkey trip in Goreme, Cappadocia since there was pretty much nothing to do here in the evenings.
The food did live up to what was promised in the brochure of All Inclusive Holidays – unlimited soft drinks, water and alcoholic drinks (including the strong Turkish raki). We were greeted with generous portions of mezes (Turkish pre-meal appetizers which consisted of beyaz peynir (white cheese), kavun (sliced ripe melon), acılı ezme (hot pepper paste often with walnuts), haydari (thick strained yoghurt like the Levantine labne), patlıcan salatası (cold aubergine salad), kalamar (calamari or squid), enginar (artichokes), cacık (yoghurt with cucumber and garlic) and pilaki (various foods cooked in a special sauce) – and this is just the beginning! There were also plates of Turkish Delight, cheese borek and fruits.
Unfortunately, the main course served in the middle of the performance was not as tasty. We ordered lamb with rice (a traditional Turkish wedding meal – to coincide with the Turkish wedding dance demonstration) and fried chicken with fries. The servings were much smaller and the food were cold and the chicken pieces were not as crispy. If you are considering taking up a Turkish Night package, you might want to consider taking up just the drinks and fruits package (which would cost about 25 Euro per person) instead of the 30 Euro package which includes drinks, fruits and dinner. Consider settling your dinner at the restaurants in Goreme, Cappadocia instead.
The performances were quite interesting, featuring a colorful display of different folk dances from different parts of Turkey as well as the ones that are commonly associated with Turkey and draws the most crowds – belly dancing and whirling dervishes. The whirling dervishes performance is a short 10 minute sample of the actual religious dance Whirling Dervishes ceremony – it is quite a slow performance with the “dervishes” (unlikely the real religious dervishes considering the commercial setting in Turkish Night shows) dressed in white robes slowly shuffling around the performance arena before doing the characteristic whirling to religious Turkish chants.
The Turkish wedding performance is one of the more interactive performances during the Turkish Night show. Dancers, including the bride and groom, perform the traditional way in which a girl gets married in Turkey. The bride dressed in a beautiful red dress would dance in the middle and the groom would then arrive to put on different shows for her. He would first demonstrate how handsome he is, and then how strong he is and finally how rich he is. After rejecting all these shows one by one, the bride accepts the marriage when the groom tells that his heart beats for her. While they are starting their wedding dance, all the guests (i.e. the audience) are invited to dance with them. Then this began to degrade into a free-for-all disco dance performance playing pop techno music and depending on how active the audience is – the dance floor would soon be filled with drunk dancers or dancing enthusiasts showing off their butt-shaking moves. This part was quite long-drawn and lasted about 30-45 minutes.
This was followed by various Turkish folk dances e.g. Kaşık Oyunları (Wooden spoon dances) and concluded with the exotic belly dancing (another interactive part of the show where selected audience members were invited to practise some belly-dancing moves with the lady belly-dancer) before the show ended at about 11.30pm.