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¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Kyiv Culture

Inside Kyiv’s Private Parties

It seemed like a good idea, four lads from the What’s On team would enjoy a boys’ night out at one of Kyiv’s all-inclusive private parties. It wasn’t. What should have been a blinder, turned into a free-for-all brawl. Where we should have been stumbling home bleary-eyed before sun-up, one member’s eyes were blackened and bloody. What’s On takes a walk on the wild side in a little town on the outskirts of Kyiv called Bortnichy, where the party is private, and pathetic.

Chateau Mystique. It sounds alluring, conjuring up images of a fairytale castle and damsels in distress. In reality it is a faux polystyrene-esque castle were the ones in distress turned out to be us. As we alluded to on our Kyiv Clubbers page a couple of weeks back, things didn’t quite go according to plan after joining a Halloween celebration in the hallowed halls of Chateau Mystique.

Out Of The Blue
As far as soirees go, this is low-rent. Apparently “all-inclusive” does not mean a mouth-watering array of gastronomic delights, nor does it mean a wide selection of beverages. Here the “spread” is confined to soggy sushi, and skimpy buterbrod (sandwiches) a single slice of bread and maybe a slice of salami (still with rind as we discovered with an impromptu floss of our teeth) and, if you’re lucky, cheese. The drinks are mostly bargain-basement vodka and a dubious mixer. Still, it seems many partygoers are in full Halloween spirit, having kitted up in a mask purchased from their nearest Silpo or raided the make-up drawer to zombify their faces to perfection. Maybe the problem is Halloween wasn’t the only spirit many had got into before arrival.
The level of merriment is completely at odds with the drinks on offer and our soberness. Still, we try to make the most of it; sampling plastic cups of questionable liquid as the number of drinks set out on the tables rapidly dwindles. Despite difficulties in access, and the drinks having little affect, eventually three of us have to answer the call of nature. Something very different is about to call on us.
Lining up at one of the venue’s four (yes only four) toilets, all hell is about to break loose. It unravels when our face of Clubbers Denys Shpatenko decides to do the gentlemanly thing and let a couple of ladies ahead of him in the queue. Two hopniks (in the UK they are “chavs”, in the US they are “wiggers” and in Australasia – “bogans”) take exception. Few words are exchanged; instead, fists and feet are suddenly doing all the talking. And the fists and feet multiply – sandwiched between the mob and the toilet doors we have little option but to fight our way out. Soon it is a bloody pile of bodies kicking each other – as in any battle there are casualties and the innocent are punished along with the guilty. For one half of our group it is a bloody initiation, the other has seen similar two months earlier.

Try And Try Again
The first time we decided to check out what a Kyiv-style all-inclusive private party was all about was this summer at a party held in a private house. The organiser invited us to come at 22.00 to Livoberezhna Metro where rented marshrutkas were parked. There we found about 100 youngsters, mostly boys, already drunk and looking for various ways to entertain themselves. Then, we saw the writing on the wall. It was obvious these kids had escaped the supervision of their parents for the night, were hell-bent on drinking as much as possible, and the combination of testosterone and booze would have inevitable consequences. We aborted the mission.
Our second attempt is Chateau Mystique, and from those of us who had been at the first attempt hopes are not high. The concept of an all-inclusive party works like this; you simply pay 300 –500hrv in advance and eat, drink and party. We meet with a crowd of people dressed up for Halloween a short walk from Bo­rys­pils­ka Metro. We board marshrutkas and after a short wait we drive off. In 15 minutes we are standing in a weed-filled yard at the entrance to Chateau Mystique. The club itself is styled along the lines of a 15th century castle – sure it looks imposing enough by dark and fits the theme of the night well, but we doubt it is attractive at daylight. People are crowding at the entrance slowly moving inside.

Countdown To Disaster
Although a thick fog of dry ice vapour and decorations cover most of the area, the poor design of the venue still stands out. The scant amount of food means many guests take seats at the tables desperately scoffing what’s on offer. The drinks, well we’ve already mentioned them, not that the majority of partygoers appear to need additional alcohol. Other than that the party seems okay, with DJs playing music in various halls, people dancing, smoking hookah, singing karaoke and simply enjoying the Halloween atmosphere.
The number of guards standing almost at every corner reassures us nothing will go awry. Again we are to be proved wrong (or right depending on which of our views of how the evening would pan out). At about 23.00, three of us make that fateful journey to the toilet. Considering the venue has five dance floors there are only four toilet cabins, which leads to long lines. We spend about 20 minutes queuing, listening to various drunken exchanges.
When Shpatenko performs his act of chivalry he fails to notice a couple of guys standing behind him in a state that likely means they had forgotten why they are queuing in the first place. We hear just one phrase: “Are you talking to me?” followed by a head butt to Shpatenko’s face. Two guys, wearing no costumes and no entrance bracelets simply start to weigh in. Shpatenko fights back with one punch hitting its target. The rest of us pull off the second guy, but the number of brawlers has swelled without any understanding of who’s fighting whom. Security does nothing. Eventually we manage to pull Shpatenko from the pile of bodies. He’s bleeding from his head and eyebrow, and one of his shirt sleeves is lying on the floor. We beat a hasty retreat, actually it is more of a medevac – Shpatenko needs medical attention.

Hospital After Party
The taxi arrives quickly but not fast enough for us not to witness another fight happening at the entrance. This time, its girls making a stand for equality – pulling each other’s hair. Again the catfight swells to a brawl; again the guards do nothing. When asked why they don’t intervene, one of the guards says they’re not allowed to leave their posts. Nice.
We get into the taxi and soon reach the Central Ambulance Hospital, which is already packed with people in similar states as Shpa­tenko. All have run into trouble this Saturday night. One goes out to buy some bread, another sits in a café with friends, others are simply unconscious. For the doctors it seems to be a routine Saturday shift, and after a three-hour wait Shpatenko is stitched up and we are sent on our way.
On the taxi ride home we all sit in silence, privately contemplating why there were those who came not to party but to fight. Sadly, this situation is not an exception to the rule here in Ukraine. If you don’t believe this, visit the Ambulance Hospital any Saturday night and you’ll see the ranks of bruised and battered. Then ask doctors if it happens frequently. They will surely tell you, it does.

What’s On will no longer be promoting “private parties” in Kyiv of any kind. Should you wish to attend, do so at your own risk.

by Vadym Mishkoriz and Jared Morgan

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Comments (1)
You are not authorized! Only registered and authorized users can add their comments!
Yuri | 25.11.2013 14:31

"What’s On will no longer be promoting “private parties” in Kyiv of any kind." - Good choice. Get well.


 
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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didn’t Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer­sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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