LONDON (Billboard) - Never mind Ibiza -- Romania is emerging as a new center for Europe’s dance scene.
In the past 18 months, numerous hits have been exported from the Balkans into Western Europe. Romanian duo Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina hit the top 10 of Billboard’s European Hot 100 Singles chart twice this year with “Stereo Love” and “This Is My Life.”
“Stereo Love” even cracked the notoriously Europhobic U.K. singles chart, peaking at No. 4 and selling 101,000 units, according to the Official Charts Company. Another Romanian dance star, Inna, hit the U.K. top 10 in March with “Hot,” selling 193,000.
Such success represents the international blossoming of an underground scene that took root after the fall of President Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist regime in 1989.
“For many locals, clubbing equals freedom,” says Cosmin Duru, manager of Bucharest-based clubbing website Nights.ro.
The country is also home to an Ibiza-style summer dance scene centered on the Mamaia holiday resort, which attracts A-list DJs to its numerous clubs. British house DJ Steve Lawler describes the crowds there as “fantastic.”
“You have two scenes, one very commercial and one very underground, but they co-exist happily and feed into each other,” Lawler says.
Romania’s January 2007 entry into the European Union was another turning point for the country’s dance scene, according to Marius Mates, CEO of Bucharest-based Premium Management, which represents Romanian dance artists Claudia Pavel, Bentu de Soli and David Deejay.
“Local writers and producers had the chance to travel abroad and were exposed to higher production standards,” says Mates, who also owns club chain Bamboo. “Doing business is much simpler being part of the EU.”
Meanwhile, Western companies like the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Sound and All Around the World and the Netherlands’ Spinnin’ compete to license hits that emerge on Romanian labels like Mayavin, Roton and Cat Music/Media Services.
Still, it’s a long process from Romanian club play to Western charts, according to Scott Simons, A&R manager and head of international at Ministry of Sound (MoS) in London.
Records first pick up play in Romanian resorts, before crossing over to Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Southern Europe club play, he says.
“Nine to 12 months after being released in Romania,” Simons adds, “they end up charting in the U.K. and (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) because everyone who went on holiday to (Romania) knows them really well.”
Accordingly, MoS will release “One” by Anya featuring Jayko in the United Kingdom at the end of summer, after its Romanian release in February on Cat Music/Media Services. Other releases being prepped as Europe’s summer holiday season gets under way include Pavel’s “Don’t Miss Missing You” (Cat Music/Media Services), de Soli’s “Pearls of Summer” (Camper Music) and “So Bizarre” (Spinnin’) by David Deejay featuring Dony.
“This will be the year Romanian dance goes totally mainstream,” van der Zwan says.