I attended the IFAFA Conference in Milwaukee and had a wonderful time meeting people from around the United States who share my passion for Italian folk music and dancing. Although I was the only person present from Los Angeles, I met people from New Jersey, Virginia, Des Moines, Iowa; San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California; Dallas, Texas; Rockford, Illinois; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;Canton, Ohio; and, of course, the host group from Milwaukee.

Milwaukee has an active Italian community with a large Italian Community Center. Some of us went on a tour of the community center which is huge. It has two large ballrooms, a restaurant that is open to the public every day and an indoor bocce court. They made a nice lunch for us and some of us played bocce. As a side note, the Italian community in Milwaukee holds a Festa Italiana every year in July and it usually raises about $500,000 for the center in 4 days.

The organizer for the event was Linda DeSanctis along with her sisters Suzie and Lisa and brother Mark. They were helped enormously by the Italian Dance Group of Milwaukee of which they take part. Its president is Talia Salamone. The DeSanctis children come from a long history of Italian folk dancing since their father taught Italian folk dancing and they grew up with the tradition. The Italian Dance Group of Milwaukee itself has been in existence for approximately 55 years.

At the conference, there were workshops on dance steps, singing, costume design, Italian language, cooking, palm weaving, il ceppo (the Italian Christmas tree), websites, and Italian history. We had time for recreational dancing, partying and eating good food.

At the Saturday night Festa Folcloristica, we were served a wonderful banquet. Those who had them came in costume. Il Quartiere Italiano from San Jose, California, and the Italian Dance Group of Milwaukee performed dances. I Gagliardi Italiani from Canton, Ohio, sang and several of us sang a medley of Italian folk songs in honor of Jane P. Ferro, an inspirational member of IFAFA who passed away last year. We were serenaded by the Sicilian Serenaders and danced the night away to the band "La Nuova Immagine".

Here are some photos from the IFAFA conference. If you would like to see a larger photo, just click on the photo below.

Lionel Bottari brought his collection
of zampogne. Click on the photo to
see more instruments.

We had dance workshops,

We danced "the scopa" to the
Neapolitan Tarantella.

We had a party with homemade
food and Italian wine.

The DeSanctis Family:
Suzie, Lisa, Linda & Mark.

Talia Salamone gave a seminar
on Italian costumes and head pieces.

The contingent from Philadelphia.
In the middle is Cav. Elba Farabegoli
Gurzau, the founder of IFAFA

People sang as the Sicilian
Serenaders played "Oi Marie".

A man in traditional folk costume.

Flags from the various regions
of Italy were presented at the
Festa Folcloristica.

I Gagliardi Italiani from Canton, Ohio

The Italian Dance Group of Milwaukee
danced the Tarantella Fantasia.

Dancing to "Il Nuovo Immagine"

More dancing!

For more information about IFAFA, Click here!

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