How We Failed to Arrange the Chicken Dance in Bergama

Three police men, one promised mayor and a bunch of random men hanging around the public square, all watching the computer screen in confusion, while me and Amanda are trying our best to make them understand one concept: PARTICIPATION!

It’s been easy to arrange the Chicken Dance so far. Easy in the sense that people have been in contact with flash mobs, and art performances before. YouTube has been great at spreading these, but until last week, YouTube was banned in Turkey.
Perhaps that’s why the concept isn’t as well spread here?

I summarized the story (keep on reading) and will now fold it out for you: Last week we tried to arrange the Chicken Dance in Bergama. As you probably can guess, we failed pretty hard.
But not without a fight!

We had gotten a note written in Turkish that told the story and our mission. Now, more confident than ever we handed it over to the men that spent their days in the public square. They looked at it, perplexed and snatched the note from each other. Some of them talked to us, and then after a short while one man claimed that it was in fact illegal to arrange the dance in the public square.

Bergama citizen, Robin and Amanda

– “Problem with Police, girls and boys dancing together, here!”
– “Oh, really? Why is that?”
He didn’t answer “why”. The whole group kind of shrunk as we questioned the idea, the law and his words. We crossed some kind of line here.

– “Where can we find the police station, so that we can ask them for permission?”
He pointed at a building that was very close to the square.

With another man accompanying us, we walked over to the police station. Meanwhile the man (who spoke German) said things like:
– “Das ist sehr gut! Bürgermeister ruft das Volk, alle zusammen und jeder wird dann tanzen!” Meaning that the mayor probably would summon the town for this dance. Our hope was higher than ever!

At the police station we were sent between 4 different inspectors and then after 45 minutes we had our official permission and one inspector that tried his best to help us arrange the Chicken Dance. He tried convincing his co-workers, people on the streets and the men in the square. There was a limitation to this though: He would not dance with us himself.

No one else would either. They started talking about getting a local musician that could play for us (we insisted that we’d just sing instead) and then we showed them the video. On our computer.

– “This is in Brasov, Romania. And Bratislava, Slovakia. Varna, Bulgaristan. Stockholm, Sweden. Visby, Gotland. Warsaw, Poland. And now… Bergama – with you, in Turkey! Come on now, dance with us!”

And then. They all just turned away… and slowly… walked away from us… as if… they didn’t see us anymore.


We see four possible solutions to this:

  1. Contact the mayor in each city before trying to arrange it. But that would kind of defeat the liberating feeling of free participation, wouldn’t it?
  2. Change from “random people” to “young people” who got something to win by making weird stuff such as participating in a public dance. Youth is more rebellious by nature. The old men have had their fun and seem rather safe and secure with their lives and positions.
  3. Contact artists who are into doing stuff like this all the time.
  4. Start off the dance with more people that you’ve gathered in advance. This is the approach that we’ll try out in Antalya.

We’ll let you know how it goes.
Do you have any suggestions or feedback on the Chicken Dance?
Write a comment and tell us!

8 thoughts on “How We Failed to Arrange the Chicken Dance in Bergama

    1. mangomanjaro Post author

      I don’t believe that it’s Bergama who needs time, I believe that it’s just us who needs to get better at explaining and selling it. So don’t mistrust, Bule, Bergama is one of the few towns that we’ll surely come back to.

      1. bule

        I really want to see you the end of your trip,
        come back to bergama.I want to show you our peach garden:)I want to listen your experiences…

  1. Breno Cola

    I am sure that you two made a impression out of them. Their head must be spinning now. “Dance freely in public space!? ah!?”
    So, the next time two completely strangers blondies ask them to stop play chess in the main square to dance a dance like a chicken, they will certainty do it without hesitation.

    Conclusion: 1)you mission is hard, but JUST hard. It’s not impossible.
    2) And define “fail”?
    3) You talked to the police asking to dance, they not just allowed you to do it, but helped you and now you are teaching it to us, that’s success for me.

    Next city, try all the different approach that you mention above and create new ways and tell us, please please.

    P.S.: Loved you new hair cut, Robin. It’s so cute.
    P.S.2: Man, you really took one jeans in your journey. You are my hero. :)
    (noticed from the pics)

    Kram fråm Brasilien (yet),

    1. mangomanjaro Post author

      Haha, we hope they will :) !

      2), 3) and 1) you’re definitely right! Failure is nothing but feedback, and that is how we’re approaching it.

      We’ll report back!

      Regarding the jeans and the hair cut, thanks a lot!
      The hair cut is made in Bergama and the jeans is a Swedish company named “Nudie Jeans”.


  2. Claire

    I agree with Breno. Just by trying I’m sure you have moved lots of people in ways you can’t even imagine. Keep on clucking…xxx
    PS The Tom Robbins book which I think you will enjoy is Even Cowgirls Get The Blues about the girl with enormous thumbs who takes up hitchhiking and meets lots of interesting characters along the way. xx


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