Tonight I went to the Konya Cultural Center for the dervish show and I’m glad I went but it lasted about an hour too long for me.
The whole dervish business started at 9: an Emcee came out and introduced a guy who spoke for about 35 minutes.
Then another guy spoke for about 10 minutes.
Then the band came out, and the lead singer sang for about 10 minutes.
Then the dancers (not really actual dervish monksâ€”as they only perform once a year in public, apparently) came out and took about 15 minutes of moving like soldiers at a funeralâ€” one step, pause, one step, pause, only the pauses were about 8-10 seconds.
But finally they started spinning (historically, I think it put them into a trance pretty efficiently, and the visions they had (like the whole near-death tunnel-of-light business gets morphed into a religious rather than a pure physiological experience) got interpreted as seeing whatever supernatural deities they believed in.
And there were about 26 of them and I timed a couple and they were doing about 45 RPM, which isn’t bad.
And they swirled around for about 25 minutes and then stopped and then all walked past the master poohbah (he didn’t twirl, but seemed to monitor all the others) and then the lights in the place got a different color and they started in again, and I started home.
I did meet a really lovely Austrian woman, now living in Spain and right now touring Greece and Turkey in a VW camper van. She said during the long speech that she should have known to bring a bottle of wine in from the van (which she said she’d have shared) to ease the pain of the long speech.
She’s been here long enough that she has to go to Georgia and come back into Turkey to re-start her visaâ€”compared to her, I’m a piker. She’s a somewhat serious photographer, and strongly agnostic as well.
She’s also headed east out of here for Cappadocia.
Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey