My dad, the ballroom dancer | Sofia Bulgaria

This was taken at the terrace of Sofia’s Military Club, during the cocktail party following this year’s Askeer Theater Awards. It has become a sort of tradition for us, my dad and me, to go to these awards every year. We dress up, attend the usually uninspired, yet cringe-inspiring, awards ceremony at the Bulgarian Army Theater and then head over to the cocktail party across the street, where we drink cheap white wine and observe the vanity fair.

The Military Club that hosts the party has somewhat of a cult status in Sofia. It is one of the handful of buildings that give the city a more Central European air. Built in the Neo-Renaissance style, it was completed at the turn of the 20th century. Its three floors and numerous halls house all kinds of events – from balls, parties and concerts to art exhibits and even chess tournaments.

Setting foot inside the Military Club never fails to make me feel more sophisticated, somehow. I’m most impressed by its central ballroom – sliding across its shiny waxed wooden floor almost makes me forget that I am just bopping up and down in a pair of jeans and makes me hallucinate graceful movements and the rustling sound of taffeta ball gowns.

My dad tells me that the German Language high school he and my mom attended used to hold their Fasching balls in that hall. According to my mom, my dad – who is still an impressive dancer, was quite the beau of the ball, and even became the Faschingsprinz (which, I imagine, is kind of the equivalent of a prom king) one year. He had the tendency of leaving his dance partners, she tells me, mid-song in the middle of the dance floor, as he went off and chatted with somebody else. And no, they were not doing ballroom dancing. They were just dancing in the ballroom.

Nowadays, one of my favorite things about attending formal functions with my parents is the chance to dance with my dad.* Thankfully, he doesn’t leave me alone in the middle of the dance floor. As he twirls me around, not skipping a beat, I am always reminded of a term in Bulgarian – “паркетен лъв” (literally meaning ‘lion of the parquet/wooden floor’), and although I am unsure of what it means exactly, when I hear it I always imagine my 17-year-old father-to-be smoothly sliding around the waxed wooden floor of the Military Club’s ballroom.

* I don’t know much about raising children, but one thing I know, and always tell friends who have young kids, is the importance of dancing with them. I remember being very young and dancing around with my parents in our kitchen, which I believe single-handedly made attending parties as an adolescent and even now much less awkward than it could have been.

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