Our History

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Pat Thomas Adamek and Aune Billingsly, two dancing enthusiasts, delighted in teaching their friends and associates willing to learn traditional dances. Soon, these friends encouraged others who loved music and dancing to join the group. As the crowd of dancers grew, they started to meet regularly to execute these dances as a means of entertainment and camaraderie.

In time they became organized. In June, 1970, as members kept adding more dances to the meager record collection, a dance studio at 719 N. Anaheim Blvd. was rented that was available every night of the week. They called the venue Veselo Selo, or "happy village."

There were designated specialized nights such as Greek, Hungarian, Israeli, etc., selected by those individuals who volunteered to teach and host the programs. There were predominantly Balkan dances in the record library by that time and as a result there were more nights of predominantly Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Romanian, and Serbian dances. Dances form Albania, Armenia, Greece, Israel, and Turkey were included. Saturday was always designated as an International Night and was open to all requests. Over time, the tunes were sprinkled with music from Africa and Asia, not to mention the popular square dances and contras of the United States.

The constantly increasing repertoire of music from such countries as Armenia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Israel, Turkey, and other surrounding countries contributed to the more than four thousand music pieces collected, compiled, stored, and played upon request by the members during Saturday night meetings.

The multi-cultural diversity of the Veselo Selo Folk Dancers is further enhanced on occasional specialty nights wherein there was featured an internationally known instructor or a folk dance band. These were always held on Saturday to accommodate the largest number of people. There were special parties held from time to time where people attending were encouraged to wear and display native or traditional colorful costumes they acquired from abroad or even made themselves.

In 1977, Pat and Aune transferred the ownership and operation of Veselo Selo to Bora and Marge Gajicki. Bora had been a dancer with a Serbian performing group before moving to California. Therefore, Serbian dances were more often selected.

The next owners were Gerry and Bill Woods followed later by Ken and Jeanette Roberts. When the Roberts wished to retire, generous donations from some members of the folk dance community enabled Veselo Selo to be bought out and become a co-op officiated by a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary to run it.

Veselo Selo Folk Dancers is an organization that continuously moves forward, constantly increasing its repertoire of dancing and music by inviting well known master teachers and folk orchestras to teach and perform. Meanwhile, at its own turf, it has had among its prized members instructors such as Henrietta Bemis, Pauline Klak, Carol Maybrier, Shana Winokur, and Sandy Wodicka who honed their expertise by immersing themselves in international dance camps and teaching what they learned to the rest of the group upon their return.

In the spring of 1990, the building that was being rented came up for sale. Financially it was impossible for Veselo Selo Folk Dancers to buy it. Thus began a big search for a new place to hold the dances. Eventually Ed Kobetich found a suitable venue at Hillcrest Park in Fullerton. It had a large space to dance with a fine wooden floor. It had available a huge room below that was rented for special occasions, notably New Year's Eve parties and Veselo Selo Anniversary parties in June. Featured at many of these events were pot-luck dinners and/or folk music ensembles that provided live dance music.

Early in the new millennium the city of Fullerton remodeled the landscape surrounding the dance hall building. But with the completion of the remodeling, the City of Fullerton actively proceeded to profitably rent out to the general public the newly created patio space around the dance hall for special occasions, especially during the summer months. These summertime events created conflicts with Veselo Selo Folk Dancers' Saturday night dances. As a compromise, Veselo Selo Folk Dancers sought other venues for its dances while daylight savings time was in effect during the summer. Saturday night dancing continued at Hillcrest Park in the winter. When the U.S. Federal Government decreed that the months of daylight savings were to be increased, it decreased the winter time available for Veselo Selo Folk Dancers at Hillcrest Park.

In 1999, Veselo Selo Folk Dancers located rental space for the Saturday night dances from the Unitarian Universalist Church (Anaheim) for the summer time. As the church has good location, ample parking, clean restrooms, air conditioning, well lighted floor space for dancing, and a kitchen available for snacking, it was decided to stay with the church the year around. This avoided the hassle of switching venues twice a year. At present dancing continues at the church except on evenings when there is a church function.