There was no permanent there there. People left their usual lives to recreate a world a week each year. Some traveled two or three thousand miles to this campsite in the redwoods, but the majority were within a long day’s drive. Of the two hundred and fifty who came, most were regulars. For some, this one week a year was all there was; for others it was the main course of a moveable feast that danced across seasons and continents. While other families had the Holidays, the Mardi Gras, the Package to Orlando or Las Vegas, mine had barely unpacked the car after an exhausted six hour drive home before we began anticipating next year’s Balkan Camp. Janet always mailed in the registration early to reserve our preferred cabin. It had no electricity, insulation, sheetrock or running water, but it had steel sash windows, a stone fireplace and a redwood interior. Luka, who’d been a regular since he was two, thought we owned that cabin, that it was our summerhouse, that it sat empty in that State Park in our absence. At age twenty-two, Eva was invited back to teach there. We had grown to feel that this was our community, in ways that our day-to-day community could not imagine.
People ate and washed and sang and danced and drank together, played their instruments and studied together. Artists from other countries- countries that were often at war with one another- were welcomed into a circle of appreciation and enthusiasm. There were no locks on doors, no keys or wallets filling pockets. Children traveled freely in packs; every adult was in loco parentis. At night the whole community danced together, circling the hall in an unbroken line. When the music was fast, the elderly converted leaps to steps, kicks to lifts. When the music slowed the young did it the other way round. Dancers served the musicians as gracefully as they could, supported those leading the line with their enthusiasm, enunciated the steps for the novices, and lost or found themselves on the Ouija board of the dance floor, at once moving and moved.