A Night in Bucharest
by Julius Evola
In this previously untranslated work by Julius Evola, journey through a vivid account of a remarkable experience in Bucharest, revealing the intriguing intersections of culture, ritual, and human connection.
What I am about to describe took place in Bucharest, when I was visiting the city in order to make contact with Codreanu, the leader of the ‘Iron Guard’. As a possible diversion after so many meetings and interviews, one of my local guides mentioned an event that was then being organised in Bucharest and which he thought might interest me: the annual celebration held by the gypsies of the city and its surroundings for their own enjoyment.
We reached the place in question through the quasi-oriental alleys of a suburban area. After my guide conferred with those outside, we gained access to a sort of squalid leisure centre, which had no doubt been rented for the occasion. Already in the lobby of the building and around a sort of ‘buffet’, one could see men and women bearing the unmistakable traits of that enigmatic race. We then entered a large hall: in the din of what might have been a ball, four orchestras, each standing at one of the corners of the room, were taking regular turns to play. It was a rather motley crew: for many of the gypsies had sought to give themselves a gloss of the ‘conventional’ for the occasion. This was particularly the case with the women: the contrast between their long evening dresses and their literally greenish skin, the red and exaggeratedly painted gash of their mouths, and their wild-looking hair was a peculiar sight indeed.
The music and dances were equally promiscuous. While the rhythms of normal couple dances were also heard, what was most frequently played were specifically gypsy tunes. The crowd assembled in concentric, alternating circles of men and women; holding hands, they swiftly moved back and forth in opposite directions. People danced incessantly, as if their aim was to reach exhaustion. There appeared to be no fixed partners: men and women constantly changed places, in the name, perhaps, of their belonging to the same race. I myself was soon taken in by the pandemonium, despite the fact that I certainly do not look like a gypsy.
At last I got sick of it all. I said so to the girl who had taken my guide's place, and with gestures and words I hardly understood she led me into a smaller and even more squalid room. This was so dimly lit that its corners appeared to vanish into the darkness. The air was foul and heavy with smoke, cheap perfumes and the unmistakable smell of ‘rakiu’, Romanian aquavit — quite a few glasses of which had probably already been poured by then. The crowd was close to exhaustion. A smaller orchestra in the semi-darkness ended one of the dances and the circle of men and women opened up. Suddenly some people started shouting, ‘Baskie! Baskie!’ I have no idea whether this was somebody's name or that of a dance. Silence fell and soon the gypsies started playing a distinctly Romanian piece. It began with a compact, homogeneous and frantic accompaniment. Then a few violin notes were added, almost like echoes of something faraway, evoking an enveloping and ecstatic atmosphere. As the base rhythm accelerated, the violin began playing at a particularly high pitch. The rhythm of the accompaniment grew increasingly convulsive, reaching what appeared to be its final limit, only to abruptly move beyond it with new and unexpected breakthroughs, as if it were walking on a tightrope or on the razor’s edge.
People shouted again a number of times: ‘Baskie!’ Finally, a girl stepped forward into the better-lit area at the centre of the room. She improvised a few dance moves, impeded by her long dress; she then took a look around and cast off her clothes and underwear, exposing the olive flesh of her naked body. The music played on and gained momentum. It was as if it had found a centre in that girl. Her body shook and then came to a halt. Her arms raised, the girl stood perfectly still, with only a hint of a thrill mixed with something ambiguously intangible in her expression. This thrill alone, and the girl's contour, her half-closed eyes gleaming, accompanied and exasperated the frenzy of the music, until it reached a tension no longer bearable, and which seemed to require — or indeed command — a fundamental act of absolute violence: something transcending the merely sexual domain. Clearly perceivable in that atmosphere was what Weininger describes as the essence of the power manifest in the ‘absolute woman’: to destroy and to be destroyed.
The music suddenly stopped. The naked girl swiftly withdrew into the darkness, behind the orchestra.
Sexual vortexes transcending sex. Tantric communities in India practice secret ‘chakra’ rituals: in circles formed by alternating men and women, intoxicating substances and mysterious formulas are used to create a psychically and magically charged environment. Then, at the centre, the ‘lord of the circle’, or chakreshvara, will possess a young, naked woman. The latter is said to be a goddess the ‘lord’ is violating, so that through their intercourse contact is established with invisible powers that manifest themselves in him, and within the circle, through unmistakable signs.
Arabia, too, knows the magic of the vortex, but in a bare, ascetic and fierce form. The circle here is comprised of men alone; seated, they move at a rhythm and unceasingly ‘utter mantras — dhikr — consisting of divine names’. A current is thus created which spirals in search of a centre or act that may transform and resolve it. This is done by the ‘sheikh’ at the centre of the circle. When the wave reaches its apex, he runs a sword through his body. Not a drop of blood is shed, nor is any wound left to see, for — it is said — the ‘sheik’ dematerialises his body, dissolving it for an instant ‘in the force’s space’. All it takes is a moment of uncertainty or a slight loss of control over the vortex for the ‘sheik’ to fall dead at the centre of the circle.
(Originally printed in Roma, Naples, 9 March 1951. Translated by Sergio Knipe.)
 Otto Weininger, author of the book Sex and Character, was an Austrian writer on gender and sexuality who was very influential upon Evola. — Ed.