It’s 10.30 on a sunny Saturday morning. I sit perched up on a stool in a trendy coffee shop in Shoreditch. I sip ridiculously expensive drip coffee served by ridiculously gorgeous guy surrounded by equally ridiculously cool people. I feel at once a cast out (with no tattoos I’m way too “mainstream”) and a square (my trainers are old Nikes I use for jogging). But as i look around, I feel like I’ve been here before. Like years before. In childhood. Or in generations lost before. Way way before. Before the modern world.
When nomad was a way of life. When men wore beards and women wore their hair loose wild. When people tied bright cloth around their heads and sang and danced in fields. When music was a cry of human soul, instinctive and primeval. When dancing was at once expression of desire and violence and life. When there were Nomad tribes. Then Romani wanderers. Then Gypsies. Then Flamenco music. Then the mass migration to Americas. Then the blend of cultures. Then the Balkan jazz. Then Gypsy Punk. Then the Hipster beards, and Boho gypsy prints, and music festivals among the fields.
I am a Gypsy. Gypsy blood runs through my veins. Growing up as a shy kid in Moscow, mum took me to a Romani theatre. The passion, the guitars, the raw sensual energy of dancers blew my mind. This was self-expression unconfined by Soviet ideology. Unrestrained by social norms. Persecuted through history, ostracised and secretly desired, the Gypsies managed to preserve their music, language and identity. Only to get popularised across the globe some decades later through Gypsy Punk - a hybrid of the Balkan rhythms and Punk Rock. Today, most people know who Gogol Bordello, Beirut, DeVotchka are.
But what strikes me is that Gypsy influence is all around us. It’s in what we wear - the boho prints, the colours, the freedom of the current fashion. It’s what we strive to eat - organic, raw, straight from the fields. It’s how we live - nomadic wanderers, we travel through our life, change jobs, career paths, relationships. We’re no more static like our grandparents used to be. We move from place to place, the world is ours to discover, we search for spiritual awakening and self-expression.
So as I sit in Shoreditch on a sun-soaked morning, with beautiful diversity of faces, cultures, accents all around me, I feel it: “Gypsyfication” of the world. And I am proud of us all. Because through physical and spiritual wanderings, through quitted jobs and failed relationships, through broken social norms and parents’ disappointment, we carry something that’s our own. Identity.
Today we all are Gypsies in this world.