In Ukraine, Ravers clears the rubble (in one beat)

YAHIDNE, Ukraine – They wear pink, orange and green sunglasses again. Out of the wardrobe are high heels, short black skirts, leather leggings, and metal jewelry.

They were stylish, young and beautiful, and ready to party on a recent mellow summer evening in a dramatic setting – the ruins of a war-torn and sprawling building. .

They are brought together by the group Repair Together, which hopes to revive a scene once famous before the invasion of Ukraine, but with a wartime twist: doing good while having fun.

Andriy Diachenko, stage name DJ Recid, swings to the tune. And the crowd of about 20 years old – well dressed in the nightclub – pushing wheelbarrows, shoveling rubble and dusting, all nodding and swaying to the beat.

“Right now, it doesn’t feel right to go clubbing,” said Tetyana Burianova, 26, one of the rave organizers and a partygoer in Kyiv’s pre-war nightlife scene. the set. “I want to go back to my old life but only after the war. During the war, my life, like everyone else’s, revolved around volunteering.”

Repair Together activists, from Kyiv, didn’t mind partying when they began calling on local volunteers to repair destroyed buildings in villages outside the capital, in areas area liberated this spring from Russian occupation. Volunteers will clean up debris and make minor repairs. The group will then post about their work on Instagram to try to encourage more people to help.

After each cleanup, activists will organize a concert or other entertainment, usually for children. The locals – exhausted from five months of relentless shelling and missile attacks – were enthusiastic. And so Repair Together decided to combine music making with repair work.

The idea of ​​a rave was born.

Ms. Burianova said the group hopes to clean up 25 party buildings before winter arrives. The recent party, in Yahidne, a village north of Kyiv, was the first.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of cleaning sites and their number is growing daily. As of August 8, about 131,000 buildings in Ukraine have been destroyed by Russian artillery and missile strikes, According to Kyiv School of Economics. The Ministry of Culture estimates that about 65 village cultural clubs have been destroyed. These places were similar to community centers, and in many villages, before the war, used to hold disco parties every Friday night.

For many of the roughly 200 party-goers at the destroyed House of Culture in Yahidne, it was the first time in months that they wore party clothes.

“I haven’t played in five months,” said DJ Recid, who used to play in Kyiv’s hugely popular No Name club. “It’s the most amazing rage I can imagine right now,” he said.

“We dance together, and we fix together,” he added.

Yahidne, a village in the Chernihiv region, usurped by Russian forces on March 3 and liberated by Ukrainian troops on March 31. Many houses in the village were ruined, but the occupation is also known for a particularly grim period. .

While the Russians controlled the village, more than 300 people, including 77 children, were held in a sunken basement at the village school. They are used as a human shield for the Russian army stationed here. Ten of those arrested died.

Many villagers in Yahidne were grateful to see activists organizing a recent protest.

Viktoria Hatsura, 29, whose son is also helping to clear the rubble, said: “We feel the village is no longer empty when they are here. Ms. Hutsura, along with her three children, spent almost a month in captivity in the basement during the Russian occupation.

She said she is happy to see so many young people willing to bring positive emotions and help her village.

Other Yahidne residents praised the effort, but not the techno.

“I cannot say that I like music but I am grateful to these children for their work,” said Oksana Yatsenko, 42, who lives near the House of Culture.

Before the war, the Kyiv parties were known far beyond the Ukrainian border. Riots at industrial facilities, semi-abandoned buildings, clubs and outdoor spaces on the waterfronts are frequent. Now, destroyed villages are the backdrop.

At the Yahidne party venue, black burn marks etched the red brick walls of the House of Cuture, which is now roofless. In the middle of the dance floor was a pile of rubble.

The crowd, wielding shovels and buckets, enthusiastically nodded and stomped to the beat, while filling buckets and bags. The DJ performed on a stage decorated with glittering curtains that sparkled in the sunlight. The speaker was placed on a tripod amid the rubble. Surrounded by a lot of exposed bricks. Several local children showed up to help.

“I always joined the club before the war,” said Solomiya Yaskiv, 23, a publicity manager at a tech company in Kyiv. “There are hardly any parties in Kyiv right now and I am not mentally ready for them anyway. Here it is different, once again I can enjoy good music and look at stylish and beautiful people and do something useful at the same time.”

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