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img Čekaluša 61, Sarajevo

It was summertime, late June…

Those years Sarajevo was rapidly taking shape of a true European metropolis and unstoppably sprouting on both sides of the river. Its particular charm came from, in contrast with Budapest, Zagreb or Vienna, that – although breathtakingly beautiful – still were somewhat two-dimensional, plenitude of scents of dibek across čaršija and of fine culinary delights which, at that time, just started its venture into the kitchens of local people and were just becoming fashionable.

Its not so known that at the time, perhaps 20th year of 19th century, when Ms. Safija was spending more and more time her newly-built Sarajevo house, Sarajevo had been short for one thing only: dance school. In those days, months and years when all sorts of balls were held and gala dinners would be concluded with elegant square dance, few of the local people really knew how to make a good step and dance properly.

Staying (maybe a tad longer than her heart wished for) at the Viennese court, being beloved by the Hofburg and irreplaceable guest of all contemporary events in Vienna, Ms. Safija, gifted with unusual grace and elegant movements, very quickly and without apparent effort mastered all hoch dances. Determined to make her city a better place to live, she came from Vienna with a decision. Open a dance school!

Not sooner said than done. That summer – some say it was late June – in the magnificent building of Hotel Europe with help and support of city fathers Ms. Safija started a school in which ladies and gentlemen of Sarajevo – under her watchful eye – practiced elegant waltzes. It was not long, and Vienna and Budapest and Zagreb began to rustle about Sarajevo being a dance Mecca of this part of Europe. It was not long that Parižik’s fabulous building became a meeting place for those who were infatuated with Landler and Strauss.

One of the first photographs taken with camera obscura in Viennese café of Hotel Europe is just that one showing the famous dance school of Countess Sofia von Herbenstein (a story about this name of Ms Safija we shall give you some other time).
And today, preserved, this photo is on the wall in the other room of Ms. Safija.

Have you already seen it?