One of my favorite parts of our week-long Slovenia trip was a Traditional Slovenian Evening of food, dance, and music. The Traditional Slovenian Evening was held at a restaurant that was less than five minutes’ walk from the City Hotel where we were staying in Ljubljana, so it was convenient and a lot of fun!
They already had a high chair waiting for Small Shaw when we got there, and they’d given our family its own little table separate from the fifty or sixty other guests who were all a part of the same larger guided tour.
If you’ve ever eaten dinner at a restaurant with a toddler, you know that easy access to get up and down from the table makes the meal less stressful. It was so nice that the hosts of the Traditional Slovenian Evening thought about that, and that they gave our family that little bit of extra elbow room that still left our little redhead with a view of the dancers and musicians.
Fast, Friendly Service
We were immediately offered water, Slovenian wine, and something for Small Shaw to drink, and the first course of our meal — a bread and cheese plate — was served very quickly after that. In between each course the performers explained some aspect of Slovenian culture. They shared history and folklore, traditional costumes and dress across each region of the country, and they taught us all about Slovenian dance.
Learning About Slovenian Dance
The performers explained whatever performance was coming up next. They told us about the dance and the music, and they explained the context for each song and dance. Many of the dances were specific to a single region of Slovenia, and several of them were fun and flirtatious ways for single Slovenians to court one another.
Nick Does the Mirror Dance
One of the dances they showed us started out with a man or woman seated in a chair with their back to the other dancers. Potential dance partners take their turns coming up behind the seated person, tapping them on the shoulder, and offering them a dance. Instead of turning around to see who’s asked for the dance, the person in the chair uses a hand mirror to see the person’s reflection over their shoulder.
The seated dancer either nods “yes” and dances with the person who’s invited them, or they shake their head “no”. If they say no, then the game continues until a suitable prospect appears in the mirror.
One of the things that makes the Slovenian Evening tour so enjoyable is that they encourage audience participation. Throughout the evening, the performers invite individual audience members onto the floor. It didn’t take long in the mirror dance for them to grab Nick.
He got to ask one of the other ladies in the audience to dance, and of course, she liked what she saw in the mirror. 😉 It was so much fun for Small Shaw and I to watch Daddy dance! Even though it’s a sort of a courting dance, which you might expect to be slow and romantic, the mirror dance music was fast and upbeat. Nick and his partners were a blur on the dance floor!
Four Courses of Food, Wine, and Culture
Throughout dinner, we enjoyed several Slovenian dances, plenty of good music, and a belly full of Slovenian food. The performers did a great job of teaching us about Slovenian culture in a genuinely fun and entertaining way.
We ate four courses of food, including the cheese and bread I already mentioned, soup, a salad, a chicken entree, and dessert. Nick enjoyed a glass of a red Slovenian wine (I snuck a sip, too!), and Small Shaw seemed enamoured by the colorful costumes and the movement on the dance floor. Speaking of the dance floor, Nick wasn’t the only one who got to dance that night.
My Turn on the Floor: The Hat Dance
One of the last dances of the evening was a hat dance. The performers explained the hat dance to us by example, showing us how it worked. Three men stood on the dance floor, each of them wearing a hat. In time with the music, which started out a little bit slowly, they traded hats.
As the music picked up speed, it became harder and harder for the men to move their hat from their own head to the head of the man beside them. Inevitably, someone’s hat ended up on the floor. That personal “lost” the game, and was eliminated from the dance.
Once they showed us how the game worked with just three dancers on the floor, they started inviting men from the audience to join. Once the audience members had a chance to get the feel for the way the hat dance worked, they started pulling women into the dance, too. That’s when they snagged me!
The dance was really, really fast-moving, with the men swinging their partners all over the floor, trying to pass their hat on to someone else. I won’t lie: it was hard to keep up! My pregnant belly and I broke a good little sweat out there, but it was worth it when my partner and I won the hat dance!
Many of the dances had some sort of elimination component or some other way to determine a winner or a winning couple, so at the end of each dance, the performers offered a complimentary shot of Slovenian liquor to the winner(s). I didn’t feel comfortable taking shots of liquor while pregnant, but the gesture was still nice.
A Traditional Slovenian Evening of Food Dance and Music
The Traditional Slovenian Evening was such a good night out! We tasted traditional Slovenian foods, we saw (and participated in!) Slovenian dances, and we enjoyed learning about Slovenian culture and music. By the end of the night, Small Shaw was zonked, but we were all in really good spirits.
You can learn more about the Slovenian Evening tours on the company’s website. They offer the program more or less all year long, and it only costs about $45 USD per person. We had a great time, and we’d definitely recommend it to friends traveling to Ljubljana.
Read more about our trip to Slovenia:
Diary of Slovenia: Day 1
Our drive from Germany through Austria and into Slovenia, including an impressive Stau on the autobahn, an 18% grade mountain pass, and an old biplane parked in someone’s front yard.
Diary of Slovenia: Day 2
A photo journal of our second day in Slovenia, spent exploring Kranjska Gora. Waterfalls, mountains, playgrounds, and more!
Diary of Slovenia: Day 3
See a beautiful 100+ year-old porcelain wood stove at the tourist farm Touristica Kmetija Kosir, and read all about our day visiting the world-famous Postajna Cave and Predjama Castle.
Diary of Slovenia: Day 4
A family day at the big indoor water park in Ljubljana. Atlantis has a full spa as well as a wave pool, slides, lazy river, and kids’ and babies’ swimming pools.