Amidst The War, Kyivs Leading Techno Club Reopens For One Night: ‘The Crowd Today Is Different

Amidst The War, Kyivs Leading Techno Club Reopens For One Night: ‘The Crowd Today Is Different

Kyiv, Ukraine - “Respect my borders,” says a large entry stamp, affixed to my arm.

Here, a large courtyard is surrounded on one side by small stone buildings over a hundred years old, and on the other by new stainless steel buildings that complement the yellow buildings. Techno plays from the open doors of the main Techno club building in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The place has no official name. Located on the outskirts of Kyiv, inside a former brewery, the club's emblem and actual identification code are mathematical symbols that represent equivalent values ​​that are not used in higher-level calculations. It also reflects the club's interest in self-promotion, which is not present. By pronunciation and sign, the Kyiv techno community is known as "K41", a pseudonym that combines the street name and building number of the place.

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According to the meaning of the symbol, club members do not wish to be included in the history of the larger club - they prefer to remain anonymous and on the margins of their place and community. “More or less,” several members of the group explained to Billboard , “we are all just members of the group.”

While originally intended to remind guests that there is a world of opportunity within the club, personal boundaries must be respected and respected, my login request has taken on new meaning since the Russian invasion of all parts of Ukraine in February. It reminds us that Ukraine is in an existential struggle for its existence.

The ongoing raid concludes the final season, titled Dance.Delivery, two days before its scheduled opening weekend date last February. But on October 15, after nearly eight months of war, it reopened its doors in Kyiv for the first time and resumed the suspended season in a provocative display of Ukraine's resilience during the war.

At the October 15 event, hundreds of club-goers, mostly dressed in black, came to the dance floor. For many, going to the club for the first time in about eight months brings the joy and comfort of dancing together. One team member said, “Today’s crowd was different. Clear light filled the space. Less naked bodies,” he said. "Maybe because it's the first event, maybe for today's music; that's cool."

Most of the original structure of the building has been preserved. The dance floor and sound system are woven into the intricate interior architecture of the brewery, adapted to nine ballrooms that can accommodate over 15,000 attendees. The original mosaics of the 1870s logo can be found alongside glass-and-tile DJ booths as well as the hatch that once held a giant copper beer barrel in the large pool-style seating area.

The front line of the war is located hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian capital. And while the city has been slowly removing concrete checkpoints, sandbags and steel vehicle barriers since the early days of the Russian invasion, the decision to reopen and revive the intermittent season has not been easy.

On October 10, days before the planned reopening, an early morning explosion rocked the Ukrainian capital, while Russian missiles and missiles hit civilian targets in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. At least eight people were killed and dozens injured in the attack in Kyiv. The band is struggling for a techno revival in Kyiv. Can they start the cancellation dance? delivery season? Will they present the event?

All of Ukraine is currently under martial law, in response to Russian aggression which provides the necessary legal framework to restrict movement during the war. Older people cannot leave the country and large gatherings such as sporting events are prohibited.

After the members decided to continue, they chose to restrict the first part of the dance. Sending hundreds of attendees to keep the event intimate and open only one area of ​​the venue for the safety of guests amid a possible Russian attack. . Instead of hosting the usual evening events, the venue opens in the evening and closes before 10pm, so that it does not exceed the set time at night in Kyiv.

Practical barriers must also be overcome. At the beginning of the Russian invasion, members of the group took advantage of the concrete and heavy brick construction of the former brewery, converting the building into an alternative air-raid shelter and temporary housing for the displaced. Audio equipment and DJ booths have been moved to make room for bunk beds and cribs.

An audio engineer at the company expressed concern that the audio equipment would not operate due to exposure to moisture during about eight months of storage. "We have a backup generator, unless there's a power outage or something else," he said, referring to the slim and real possibility of an explosion somewhere in the city. Everything will be fine."

The first episode of Dance.Delivery was certainly unusual, but it was a huge success. As the evening approached, the dancers gradually filled with a mixture of fresh young faces mixed with an experienced audience, and took to the stage for Ukrainian artists Cantrust and Human Margarita. Three types of clothing are in vogue: black and white, leather and mesh, but neither.

Small scene but it all adds up

The Ukrainian art scene is smaller than in other European cities, but it is growing and no less enthusiastic. Although relatively new, it offers space for the easy escape that the tech community in Berlin or London would enjoy. In the former Kyiv Brewery, club lovers and dancers are free to enjoy music, dance and community, limited only by the restrictions other diners have set themselves, which are highly respected limits.

For 20-year-old and transgender Vlad Schust, this is a very important place, and not just for music. "Before K41 opened, I never felt like I had a seat," Shust explains on the dance floor. Shast has been around since it opened in 2019 and is closely related to , a word meaning "lust" and the name of a regular series of club parties before the Russian invasion.

She said of 'I can reveal my inner Creator and be fully accepted by the people around me. I can really be myself, really be myself. Especially the season premiere of Dance.Delivery. "After the war broke out, I didn't have time to realize how much [the cabaret] meant to me," added Schust, and the strands of the black dress entwined with clouds ripped from her face.

But he admits, at first, after the missile attack, he could not think of returning to it. "I felt like I was dancing in people's graves," he said.

After a lengthy conversation with organizers and friends, Shust concluded that restarting was a priority. "We are very focused on the death toll," Shast said after the missile attack on the capital. While this is perfectly understandable for societies facing the challenges of war head-on, "we have to focus on livelihoods," he said.

Chest applauds the decision to reopen. Only in the middle of the party, Shast said, "When I have some time on my own, I really feel like Russia has taken it from me." He continued that the attack removed "my ability to share art, my ability to connect with people, my ability to connect with my community."

For her, the night on the dance floor was a celebration of life, not a memorial to death.

Tied with Berghain and German Jacks

Germany has deep ties to outer space. The founders chose the team that designed Bergain Berlin, the tech capital of the world, for their space. In 2020 and 2021, Berliners travel to Kyiv on the weekends to escape the severe coronavirus lockdown in Germany and closed techno clubs in Berlin.

Recognizing the unique trends in the art scene and the growing number of international audiences entering its orbit - international teams including LSDXOXO, Ben UFO and DJ Stingray have played - the club distributed flyers to party-goers in both Ukrainian and English. Explain how different medications can interact when taken together, how to avoid overdoses and hangovers, and how to handle sexual consent while on vacation. Other information sheets carefully explain what to do if the police stop him, the rights of citizens and how the Ukrainian police stop contacting people on the street.

Some members of the group took refuge in Berlin at the beginning of the Russian invasion. While Germany is grateful for the initial assistance to Ukrainians fleeing the war, many Ukrainians who come to Germany have very sad experiences during their stay.

“Before the Russian invasion, I thought Europeans were very special,” explains one of the team members, sipping a beer in a bar. "Health insurance and a higher standard of living" are certainly impressive things, he said, after finishing a beer and putting it in the pub. "But now I know that the Ukrainians have privileges."

When I asked why, he looked me straight in the eye. In this war, he said, "Ukraine realizes that pacifism is not an option," expressing frustration with some European countries, especially Germany, which is often heard in Ukraine.

With calls to lay down arms and calls for immediate peace, the urgency is clear. Many in the group claim to be turning away from the reality of the Ukrainian battlefield, where civilians are routinely targeted and bear testimony to Russian brutality. War crimes continued to increase in newly liberated towns and villages.

Although some of the approximately 130 team members are still abroad, many have returned to Ukraine, only to return to the war-torn country. There are many reasons for their return, but a member of Bar's group said some of their security personnel have joined the Ukrainian army and are now fighting on the front lines.

His friends and family struggle to throw everything behind him to the front. This first Dance.Delivery event eventually raised 150,855 Ukrainian hryvnias (about $4,100) through donations at the doorstep. The money was donated to Hospital Paramedic Group, a Ukrainian volunteer medical organization.

Two days after the first episode of the dance, another series of explosions hit central Kyiv, hitting a cultural site, one of the city's major electrical substations and other non-military infrastructure. The attack, which left at least four dead and dozens injured, reminds us that life's return to normal at the weekend is far from over in other parts of the country.

"Our building survived two world wars," explains one team member. “I hope he survives this war as well.” But despite alarms and explosive air raids, one night Kyiv lives and dances.

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