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As Serbian as you want to be

Guca is a small, quiet town in the Serbian mountains that has hosted an annual trumpet festival for over 50 years.

I first went there in 2009, and again in 2010 as I was immediately enthralled by the raucousness and extremeness of celebration, and the surprising (to me) undercurrent of nationalism and politics. The town is taken over by young and old from all over the country where no one sleeps as trumpets blow into the night and band competitions fade into the background as the festival becomes a celebration of being Serbian more than a celebration of music.

Amidst the roasting lamb meat, non-stop trumpet playing, vendors selling Yugoslavian war paraphernalia, and scenes reminiscent of a Kusturica film, there is an undercurrent of the complex relationship Serbia has with its own past and with how the rest of the world perceives it.

One Belgrade youth explained it to me as a place where you weren't afraid to be as Serbian as you wanted.

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