Armenian Old New Year

Did you know that the Old New Year is still a traditional holiday celebrated on 14th of January according to Julian Calendar.

The celebration starts on 13th January at 12:00. Even though it’s become an informal holiday, armenians still gather and enjoy the beginning of a Year, this year the Republic Square will host annual concert despite the cold weather.

People of Armenia  look forward the magic moments and realizations of dreams for the coming  New Year.

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Armenians have been celebrating 3 New Year Holidays : Kaghand, Navasard, New Year.

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Ancient Armenians  were celebrating New Year on 21st of March : the vernal equinox day and also the birthday of the mythical God Vahangn, in whom believed the pagan Armenians about 10 thousand years ago? The hero of the Holiday /Armenian Santa was Kaghand Papy/ Kagand Grandpa.  The typical food for Kaghand consists of beans, lentils, dry fruit, nuts. The most important from the eatables is “Tary hats” / Year Bread. “Big mamas” of the family put coin inside the bread and the one who get it, according to the tradition, get a lot of fortune for the upcoming year.

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Navsard, which was celebrated in 1th of November is the day when Forefather Hayk won Titanian Bel. This celebration was accompanied by traditional songs and dances, traditional food and collective events.

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And after the 18th century Calendar reform made by Simeon Yerevantsy . Armenians started celebrate The New Year on the 1st of January. many traditions of Kaghand and Navasard are maintained nowadays, some of them are modernized  and changed.

After the Soviet Union New Year holiday got some soviet traditions , changed some traditional staff and become quite original.

Almost all the Armenians do a lot of preparations for it. Some people /especially armenian women/ are busy on cooking, cleaning, decorations, new dresses, some people / esp. men/ busy on buying New Year meals ingredients /meat, dry fruit, drinks/ , some of us make a lists of relatives to visit and many young people just get together and spend good time 😉

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Everybody likes New Years’s dishes, everybody enjoy cooking and testing it wherever they go. Almost all Armenians have dolma, khorovats/ barbeque, qyufta, ishly qyufta  or any other interesting traditional dish with meat, dry fruit and different types of nuts, fruit and traditional sweets like gata, choreg, pakhlava on their festive table.

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And it’s important to have drinks on the table to make good tosts and wishes for the coming year.

Usually The President congratulate everybody for the upcoming year on TV, then the same does the Catholicos on armenian TV and the celebration of Amanor / Nor Tari (New Year) considered to be officially opened.

 

There is some magic in all this activity, enjoy the beginning of the New Year, New Hope and New Beginnings. Spend it with those whom you love and who love you and of course visit Armenia. Believe me you’ll enjoy armenian holidays !

 

Hosting Thor Heyerdahl Junior

While the whole last week I spent on passing mid-trem exams, I was generally thinking what interesting did I experience this week, about what should I tell my readers. And then, here you come, I have experienced something, that really was amazing. I met a person whom I’d never thought I could meet. I mean obviously I have read and heard a lot about him and his family, but hearing those stories from him was very appealing. That person is Thor Heyerdahl Junior. He visited Armenia on his famous traveler father’s  100th anniversary. As he himself claims, that it’s a great experience to visit one of the most ancient countries in the world on 100th anniversary of his father.

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Those who don’t know who is Thor Heyerdahl, let’s just have a quick review on his biography. Thor Heyerdahl Senior  is a Norwegian adventurer and archaeologist, who started a journey around the globe on a raft Kon-Tiki in 1947 and later wrote an international bestseller on his adventures. And not only him, but his wife and son also became part of his adventures, they have gone through all of that together. And today we hosted  his son Thor Heyerdahl Junior, his wife Grethe Heyerdahl and marketing manager Halfdan Tangen Junior from The Kon-Tiki Museum in our University after Valery Brusov. During the seminar Mr. Heyerdahl told us the story of his family and adventures that they had. Obviously I’d like to share it with you my dears.

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Famous raft Kon-Tiki

So, let’s start from the beginning, Thor Heyerdahl Senior was born in 1914 in Norway. He studied zoology at Oslo University. As his son claims, the adventurer spirit he has got from his mother’s upbringing, because instead of reading fairy tales for him, his mom read Darwin and evolution. In 1936 he left for the island Fatu Hiva in the Pacific, with his first wife. He spent a couple of years there studying the indigenous plants and animals. During the 2nd World War he served in Norwegian Military.  Mr. Thor Heyerdahl Junior recalls. “When my father  was leaving for the war, my mother told me, that this may be the last time I see my dad. We were not sure, will he come back, or not. But fortunately dad survived”.  After coming back from war, Heyerdahl built raft Kon-Tiki and together with his crew of five started his journey across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. They spent 101 day at sea, under the open sky. During this voyage they happened to face every kind of danger that man could come across in the sea. Later he wrote the book Kon-Tiki about his adventures, which became the bestseller of its time. And then the documentary based on the same journey won an Academy Award in 1951. By the way this film is the only Norwegian Oscar winning film.

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Thor Heyerdahl Jr recalling his famous father

The next one was archaeological expedition in Galapagos islands in 1953 and the book The Secret of Easter Island, written in 1958 was based on this trip.  Then followed trips and explorations in Morocco, Bahamas, Egypt, Tucume Pyramid, Spanish island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, southern Russia and many other places.

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HalfdanTangen Jr tells about Mr. Heyerdahl’s adventures

So I really feel lucky enough to hear much more of those adventures and stories from the first hand. Our students also were curious about our guests’ impression of Armenia during four days spent here. Mr. Heyerdahl Jr. told us that had many positive impressions, he did like the fact that Armenia is very ancient country and it’s difficult to describe what you feel here. In the end he told us “When I’m back in Norway, I’m going to be the ambassador of Armenia there.”

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ArMania members with Thor Heyerdahl Jr and HalfdanTangen Jr

 

Besides he said that they are thinking about some projects in Armenia, which I think is going to be just as much amazing, many students even claimed the participation in possible projects. So obviously everybody is looking forward to see our dear guests in Armenia again and we hope that further cooperation will be very prosperous.

My visit to Armenia 2014: Big Event on the 1st Day!!!

I talked about that I was heading to Armenia in my last blog post. Actually, on the first day of my arrival this time, I had a huge event planned.

After I arrived in Yerevan at 1:30am, I went to my wife’s parents’ house straight away to take a rest in order to prepare my busy day on the first day there.

Due to the time gap between Japan and Armenia (5 hours), I woke up very early on that day (at 5:30 am!!!). I tried to go to bed again but couldn’t so that I gave up and started watching youtube, killing time by reading all news feed on my facebook and did a little bit research on banks in Armenia.

After almost 4 hour passed since then, my brother in law and the sister woke up and then I had Armenian breakfast (actually, the main dish was fried eggs and Armenia bread so it was nothing really particular to mention as Armenian). Since I still had time until the big even on that day, I asked them to take out for somewhere so that we decided to go to the center of Yerevan by car for taking a walk there.

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The center of Yerevan was not really changed since I had visited there in this March. Maybe a couple of things to mention were that the number of people walking on the street was less than last time because October was not really a season for many tourists to visit and the Northern Avenue, the main street to reach Opera House from Abovyan Street was under construction in many parts also because it was off season for travel. But actually at the same time, it may be a very good time to explore Yerevan at your own pace since there are lots of spaces on the street as well as no place is crowded.

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Then, at 2am, I caught up with my friends to discuss several things and then went to the big event.

The event was… WEDDING PARTY!!!

Have you ever experienced wedding party in Armenian style??? Well, there are many different styles in different countries but probably Armenian wedding is very unique in some respects.

We went to a church nearby the international airport first for the couple to be baptized. The ceremony continued for approximately 15-20 minutes, joined by some priests there. The couple under Armenian style were required to wear crowns during the ceremony. Then, they touched each other on their forehead for some time. It was very beautiful moment. (Unfortunately, the cameramen stood in front of them and we could not really see the faces of the couple always). Then, after the ceremony inside the church, the audience moved outside waiting for the couple by grabbing flowers of rose.

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Then, after 15 minutes, finally the couple came out of the church as the audience threw the roses to them celebrating the newly married couple. Probably, until this part, the wedding in Armenian style is not so different from weddings in other styles.

Probably, the most particular part is the wedding reception.

So, after that, we went to the reception and I was overwhelmed by seeing the volume of dishes on the table and of course a lot of “Mis” (Meat)!!! – Armenians love meat and I love meat. On the table, Armenian cognac, wine and vodka were prepared in many bottles too to get Armenians who are very strong at alcohol drunk.

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There were approximately 400-500 people (?) invited to the party. I was sitting to my friends and also other random people who are friends of the groom but I did not know. These people turned to be quite friendly and got somehow so happy that I am Japanese guy attending the party after they found out me Japanese.

At first, the words from the relatives and some people were given to the couple and we started eating while some music were played. Maybe after 40 minutes or so, they started dancing with other people. Well, it was very fun to see other people dancing and actually they were enjoying a lot. But it was also very nervous moment for me because I do not like dancing myself… Yes, I was asked by different people to join the dance but I refused them all totally and completely. One guy was seeing that and came to sit next to me saying “if you do not dance, you must drink more”. So, actually I ended up drinking more and more alcohol eventually although a friend of mine helped me by taking the guy somewhere for dancing.

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It was very enjoyable time for me and I participated in a wedding party in Armenian style for the first time. If you have any chance to come to Armenia, I recommend you to attend a wedding party if there is a chance. See some photos from the wedding party.

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Birthday of Yerevan (2769)

We all know that last weekend there was a great celebration in Yerevan: The City Day.  On 10th of October there was an international conference on Yerevan’s development prospects. The day was very interesting with its various events going on in different parts of the city. In front of the City Hall of Yerevan a huge event took place. There were kids from Schools, Universities partaking in this event. Many dance groups performed traditional Armenian dances and a lot of flash mobs took place.

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Yard of the Yerevan City Hall

In the early morning the street washing trucks went around the city washing the streets for the upcoming event, and didn’t miss the monuments as well, as they represent some part of the Yerevan culture.

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Pahlevan; This is a traditional Armenian entertainer who used to be invited to every wedding and event in Armenia back in the day. What he does is mainly walking on a string balancing. 

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Pahlevan

Even though it might sound strange, but there was a windsurfing event in the heart of Yerevan, in the Swan Lake, near the Opera House. And though the weather wasn’t really windy, the participants still managed to windsurf. WINDSURFING FOREVER!

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Windsurfing in Swan Lake

How strange would have been a celebration without a Farmers’ Market? So there was one organized in special for the City Day (even though there is always a Farmers’ Market every weekend in Yerevan). So, the guests of our capital were able to try out the pure and fresh fruits and vegetables of Armenian farmers.

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And the Final chord of the celebration and basically the culmination of the day was the great Fireworks’ Show after the big concert with the participation of famous Armenian stars. The Firework Show was a really huge one as it was heard in all parts of the city. Literally, one could hear it from anywhere in Yerevan.

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Fireworks – Republic Square

 

 

Being Awesome and Creative in Armenia

Armenia is a home for smart and creative ideas, the source of motivation and action, a place which naturally inspires for better circumstances and developments….

We always criticize our conditions, but if we look from a side , we might notice a lot of opportunities, new horizons. Our history is the the greatest witness of this. Just look back and see what we have passed through : Kingdoms’ destruction, loss of territories,revolutions, wars, genocide, earthquake..and thanks to God now we live in Independent Armenia . Isn’t it awesome?

 

But let me tell you about the other awesomeness 😉

Many of us know and are aware of international social projects, founds/ foundations which promote mutual support, autonomy, creative approaches in helping. There are so many beautiful initiatives which are also actively working in Armenia. One of these creative initiatives is the Awesome Foundation.

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Since its  beginnings on 2009 in Boston, the Awesome Foundation has promoted sustainable worldwide ecosystem of awesomeness. Projects of the Foundation have included efforts in areas of technology, arts, social good, and beyond.

The awesomeness of Awesome Foundation is real in Armenia too. There is a group of brilliant change-makers who support the idea and activities in our land. It’s already a year that Armenian brench provides 1000 $ for the realisation of new and creative ideas in support of better changes in our society. Among these initiatives, supported by Yerevan brench, are the projects of ” Kite day”, “The mini festival of graffiti in Artsakh”, “Garbage yesterday – a souvenir today!”, “Guerrilla Gardening”, “Kind Refrigerator for Leftovers”, “ticcson bikes”, “Notable Science”, “Who Bought Yerevan in 1264?”, “Manufactory “,”Girls basketball team in Nerkin Karmiraghbyur”, “Public piano under the open sky”,  ”Before I die”‘ Wall, “public display / promotion of Ye Symbol  ”  /to know more about these projects you can visit : http://www.awesomefoundation.am/   /

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But my favorite on from these projects is the Kind Refrigerator for Leftovers”.

By the help of Foundation’s support the initiator of the project Marine Petrosyan obtained a fridge, which is installed at AEON anticafe. The refrigerator is placed there for collecting leftovers from big restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, supermarkets and individuals for later delivery to the needy families . The logos of the supporting restaurants, supermarkets, cafes and pubs are also placed on the refrigerator showing the support and willingness of being a part of this awesome project. As says Marine “By doing this we will reduce the amount of quite normal food that is usually being recycled, we will create a new food culture in Yerevan and help people in need.” 

The idea is really very nice, it’s eco-friendly and aims to support people in need. So if you feel close to this idea, just feel free to join it and become a light for many people. A country is unique not because of it nature , but mostly for it’s people. It’s the people who create a culture, architecture, who keep the nature, make the stay there interesting: make it alive. And is in our culture it is used to be shoulder to shoulder in difficult situations, supporting and helping each other. It would be very exciting even for a foreigner to become a part of this big family where every member cares for the other family members.

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Armenia is not just a beautiful place to visit, but a way of feeling, there is something special in the air here.

Yerevan City Celebrates it’s 2796 Anniversary !!

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Yerevan City is one of the world’s oldest cities and  it always looks modern and attractive in it’s colors.

This beautiful heart of Armenia has been the capital since 1918, though the history of Yerevan startes from the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni by Urartian King Argishti.  At those times in history  it was predominantly  named Erebuni , that’s why usually we call it Erebuni- Yerevan. And on it’s celebration you’ll notice Erebuni’s name on festive posters.  

Yerevan has started it’s celebration after some discoveries of 1950s. In the autumn of 1950  an archaeological expedition found out  an inscription, whish says : ” By the greatness of the God Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, built this mighty stronghold and proclaimed it Erebuni for the glory of Biainili (Urartu) and to instill fear among the king’s enemies. Argishti says: The land was a desert, before the great works I accomplished upon it. By the greatness of Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, is a mighty king, king of Biainili, and ruler of Tushpa ”  /Israelyan. Erebuni, p. 9/ Every Yerevan –resident is proud of being a  capital-citizen having this historical heritage behind.

The first official celebration of  Erebuni- Yerevan was held in October 1968, the city’s 2,750th anniversary was commemorated. Every Year Yerevan’s anniversary   is celebrated with great fanfare. Every time new festive concert in different parts of the city, new performances, exhibitions and all the possible to imagine.

This year, we will have more and varied activities :  Festive parade, Marathon, Concerts, Games, Sportive activities. Tournaments…

Here is the list of activities fixed by Yerevan Municipality:

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The area adjacent to Erebouni historical and archaeological reserve-museum-Erebouni street

 

  • 14.00 Exhibition of the folk artworks, national costumes, cuisine
  • 15.00 National games
  • 16.00 Concert “Yerevan of young musicians”
  • 16.30 Competition of rope-walkers
  • 17.00 Concert of national and folk music
  • 19.00 Conert-program «There is a festival in Yerevan…»

 

12.10.2014.

  • 10.00 Flashmob-parade of water sprinkling trucks along the streets of Yerevan
  • 10.30 Yerevan-ART stage /Saryan park/

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  • 11.00 Flashmob-washing of the monuments of Yerevan
  • 12.00 “Yerevan sketches” exposition of urban development projects /nearby the monument to architect Tamanyan/

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  • 13.00 Open-air exhibition of children & youth works /nearby the national center of aesthetics after Henrikh Igityan, Abovyan 13/
  • 14.00 Festive parade /from the Municipality of Yerevan to Republic square/

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  • 14.30 Marathon race of 2796 m /from Matenadaran along Sayat-Nova, Abovyan street to Republic square/
  • 15.00 Choreographic show “My old and new Yerevan” /Republic square/
  • 15.00 “Yerevan for children” – Children’s festive stage /puppet shows, entertaining games, clowns, conjurers, fairytale heroes, etc./ Children’s park after Kirov/
  • 15.00 Students’ stage /Conservatoire park/
  • 15.00 “Festive stroll” theatrical-ballet performance/Northern avenue/

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  • 15.00 “Sportive Yerevan” sport-show / Azatutyan-Freedom square /

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  • 15.00 “Three phases of time” photography pavilions /The service entrance to the National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet/
  • 15.30 “Peoples of the world greet you” stage /Performances of national minorities living in Yerevan & ethnic ensembles /Stepan Shahumyan square/
  • 15.30 Concert of national and folk music /Crossroad of Mashtots-Buzand streets/
  • 15.30 “Yerevan games” competitions of Yerevan yard games /English park, nearby to the Sundukyan theatre/

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  • 15.30 “Yerevan singing” karaoke-stage /Ch. Aznavour square/
  • 16.00 Windsurfing show /Swan’s Lake/

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  • 16.30 Cycling races /Argishti street-Italy street- Nalbandyan street-Sayat Nova avenue- Mashtots avenue-Isakov avenue up to Yerevan cycle track/
  • 17.00 Chess tournament with famous chess players/Ch. Aznavour square/

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  • 17.00 “Yerevan dance” national dance stage / Azatutyan-Freedom square/
  • 17.00 Classical music stage /Conservatoire square/
  • 17.30 Pop concert / Stepan Shahumyan square/
  • 18.00 Jazz concert stage /Cascade complex, Cafesjian Center for the Arts/
  • 18.30 Bard singers stage /Moskovyan park/

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  • 19.30 “Yerevan – my home” Gala-concert /Republic square/
  • 20.00 “Yerevan Rocks” rock-concert /Azatutyan-Freedom square/
  • 22.00 Youth disco /Republic square/


Reception party by the Embassy of Armenia to Japan

Today, there was a reception part in Hotel Okura Tokyo, which was organized by the Embassy of Armenia to Japan in order to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of its independence. I was invited to the party and enjoyed a good time there, meeting nice people and eating delicious meals.

 

The ambassador of Armenia is having speech to the guests

The ambassador of Armenia is having speech to the guests

The party was held at Hotel Okura, located at Kamiyacho, Tokyo. The hotel is one of the most prestigious hotels in Japan with its long history (There have been held a lot of parties and receptions by the governments as well as other embassies).

Hotel Okura

Hotel Okura

The participants include those working at the government, presidents of some companies, professors, and some people who have something to do with Armenia (like me!). Everybody came with nice clothes (men in suites and women in party dress).

 

Me with Ambassador

Me with Ambassador

Well, it sounds just another party of embassy and government. But, what made it distinctive from other parties as Armenian was that they served Armenian Cognac!!! Unfortunately, I could not get 20 year old Armenia Cognac this time because it was so popular that everything had gone in 10-15 minutes So, I ended up having 6 year old one instead… Also, another one was probably “dolma”. Of course, the dolma I mean is the genuine Armenian dolma which was made of leaf of grape!!! I heard of a rumor (just a rumor so I don’t know if it is true or not) from someone last year that the recipe of the dolma was provide to the hotel chef by the wife of the ambassador. Viva ambassador’s wife! The taste was of course excellent! I guess that the guess was able to understand the taste of Armenian dishes by its dolma at least.

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Anyway, it was a good time. You can see several photos from the party (I hope those photos would make you feel how it was even a little.

I will visit Tourism Expo tomorrow (Currently, it is being held in Tokyo) and stop by the Armenia booth.

Music of the streets

A night September evening, you know one of those evenings when you cannot stay home. You have to go out and feel the fresh air at the night atmosphere all around you. I was not an exception and went out with a few of my friends. We had a great time, we had dinner and went then went out for a walk in Downtown Yerevan. You know, especially at this time of year Yerevan is the most beautiful in the evenings, well at least for me. There are always a lot of people walking, there are always something going on in the city: And that evening was not an exception. While walking around we heard sounds of music playing. It turned out that there was a live concert almost in the heart of Yerevan on the Swan Lake. There were lot of people gathered and there was a special stage in the center of the lake, made special for that occasion. It was pretty loud and the music was nice. But I felt something was missing. So we turned around and were about to leave. When I suddenly saw a Vibraphone standing close to the crowd.  I thought there would be a musician playing on it. But I just could not see anyone around the instrument. I just burst out wondering: “Where is the musician, isn’t he here?” The question was not addressed to anyone specifically, it was more like a rhetoric one. But some old guy appeared next to me and answered: “He Is here I will call him now, just hang on”.

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And there appeared the musician. He turned out to be one of the very few musicians playing on this instrument. He performed a wonderful piece of Arno Babajanyan’s nocturne. Although there was the huge concert going on in the background this guy managed to get so much attention and to give us so much positive energy with his wonderful and powerful performance.
This is how small things can be more enjoyable and more powerful than the bigger ones.

CubaLibre Party

        Last week on August 15 there was a big CubaLibre party in the Caribbean Pool of Best Western Congress Hotel. That was a fantastic chance for all Latin dance lovers and professionals for having an unforgettable day and improves their dancing skills. For this event Congress Hotel cooperated with Centro Hispano Centre, which provided music, musicians and dancing atmosphere. The troposphere made all the participants shake the hips and feel themselves Latin dance gods. Tempers flared especially when Couples Salsa and Bachata Battle started. That was a “Step by Step” Battle, where only five Lucky Couples could elapse the next level and be announced as the winner.

Cubalibre

Cubalibre

After all the most curious and anticipated moment was After Party. Beautiful young ladies were tramping all around and were helpful in providing with Bacardi. This was the very time to make acquaintance with others and enjoy the day. Salsa,Bachata, Reggaeton, Merengue, Cumbia, Kizomba, live music, Cuba Libre… What else one needed for organizing a real entertainment?!!

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The time was over but none of the staff members wanted to leave that area. That day could have been a fatal day in one’s life. Some of the participants decided to practice dancing. One of the event’s bases was a black girl who was said to be a princess of a day. I had a chance to meet her on City’s streets, so when found myself dancing next to her, recognized that chocolate lady. During After Party it was hard to realize who was a professional dancer and who is not. Soon there’ll take place the 4th one… Will be looking forward to…

Author – Jasmin Hakobyan

A day with “Capital Cities”

Capital Cities! How many Capital Cities you know: Yerevan, Moscow, Tokyo, etc. I know only one “Capital Cities”. I think you have heard about music band “Capital Cities” or at least their songs. Capital Cities is an American pop group which was formed by Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant in 2008. I think that not all of you knew that one of the singers is Armenian and his name is Sebu. I myself found it out recently. He was in Armenia for a few days. On his second day in Yerevan he held two parties. First one was in the garden in front of TUMO Centre for Creative Technologies. And the second party took place at UpTown club. We decided to visit the open air party because we thought it was going to be much more interesting. The party had the dress code about which you can find out more in our further blog posts.

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The party started at about 7pm. Before that Sebu held a press conference which was pretty interesting and entertaining. As soon as he got on the stage the audience burst out clapping. Everyone was happy to have a chance to listen to his music live and free of charge. Our team was lucky enough to be able to take photos with him.

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I should probably mention that the acoustic version of the very well known song called “Safe and Sound” was much better than its original version, well at least for me. During the open air concert Sebu performed 7 songs of the “Capital Cities” which were absolutely amazing.
And actually a lot of people have been waiting for his concert because for the second party at UpTown club all the tickets were sold out 5 days before the party.
Our team also prepared a video where you can hear some of his songs. Enjoy it !