Summer in Moldova: Should the Party Stop?, by Glenn Johnson (Le Monde Diplomatic Office)

Moldovan youth make music in Chisinau as war rages in neighboring Ukraine

Ramin Mazur

In In the grassy gardens of a dacha in a small town in Moldova, young people sit on blankets or lie in hammocks drinking sangria as local electronic group Murmul de Izvar play their final set for the evening. I was spending my time. When the breakbeat blares, your limbs thrash under the setting sun. Of course, in the relatively rural town of Cricova, the event “Zedacha: On the Ground” has to end at 10pm.

But it doesn’t matter, a few hours later, hardcore techno is set to take off in the heart of the underground scene in the capital Chisinau, 15 kilometers away. “It’s crazy,” says local rapper Trian. “There are a lot of events and people are doing cool things.”

Attendees will nibble on skewers of white cheese, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and drink homemade lemonade. Beech and cherry trees sway in the wind. The garden is dominated by lilacs, irises, chamomile and magnolia. Nearby, a band of weapon enthusiasts in medieval combat uniforms appear, shooting arrows and attacking each other with swords.

After years on life support, Moldova’s alternative scene is vibrant. “People kept waiting,” says Fyodor Cantil, a member of Murmul de Isval, “and now it exploded.” Young people are planning events on a scale never seen before in the country, which is coming out of a prolonged period of lockdown due to COVID-19. Despite the impending war in neighboring Ukraine, which Moldovans are acutely aware of.

My encounter with electronic music was an epoch-making moment.Awareness of cultural differences can turn spoken narrative into action

Arena Rivadali

Some are cautiously optimistic. Two prominent oligarchs widely believed to be responsible for the $1 billion stolen from a Moldovan bank in 2014 and the complete collapse of an already rotten political system have been forced into hiding abroad. is Under center-right Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilisha and neoliberal technocrat President Maia Sandhu, the government is relatively competent. And Brussels, reflecting the EU’s interest in Russia, has hung prospects for EU membership after giving Moldova its candidacy in June.

Over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of shows in metal, hip hop, trance, indie and more. Two days of raves in the woods north of Chisinau. A party to celebrate the opening of the LGBTQ community center. An event for large Moldovan diasporas who enjoy summer trips to their homeland. “Artists are known for their sense of social need,” says 31-year-old Dmitr Korennikov, who organizes Zedacha events in his parents’ home and has been doing DIY shows for many years. “With the end of the new coronavirus, I felt a desire for society to come together.”

“There are two cultures within us”

But the country is grappling with many problems. There is a war in Ukraine in the East, and a refugee crisis. State institutions are rife with corruption, contributing to an unruly economic crisis compounded by inflation of around 30%. There is also an ethnolinguistic rift (people here speak Romanian and Russian, but there is a Turkic-speaking minority in Gagauzia). “He’s like two cultures in us,” says Cantil. “This creates a lot of cognitive dissonance.”

Many here wonder if this will be the last fun summer. After all, Russian missile attacks on the nearby Ukrainian port city of Odessa and the shipbuilding hub of Mykolaiv are regularly carried out as part of efforts to cut Ukraine off from the now heavily mined Black Sea. The question on everyone’s mind is, could Russian tanks hit Moldova?

Once the Zedacha event is over, people pour into the streets, returning to Chisinau, looking for shared taxis and buses to the event in the alternative living center here, Pulo Sanatate (ProHealth). Chisinau is Moldova’s commercial center, with a population of about 500,000, and is green and pleasant in summer. It was rebuilt after its destruction in World War II and later developed in Soviet fashion, with Stalinist classic buildings and brutalist apartment buildings.

Modern buildings are constructed with varying degrees of oversight for cost-conscious developers. This creates a chaotic aesthetic that reflects the widespread dysfunction of Chisinau’s skyline. “Since the early 1990s, land grabbing from local and central authorities through corrupt schemes has paved the way for some developers to acquire land in key parts of the city,” said one architect. . “Then we filled as many square meters as we could without worrying about history, infrastructure, laws and regulations.”

“This is Chisinau, not Berlin.”

The Chisinau underground has experience in development projects. In 2017, the underground theater and alternative music venue “Spatry (coin laundry)” closed after seven years of operation. The building was used as an industrial laundry in Soviet times. Young people from various subcultures would often gather there to watch political plays and dance late into the night.

Developers bought up buildings in the area, demolished them, and replaced them with drab beige office spaces and apartments. All this was legal, but for many it represented the authorities’ widespread failure to curb out-of-control development. That void was filled in 2018 by a bar owner from the Gaza Strip who founded Pro Sanatate. By day, patrons descend a narrow staircase covered in well-worn green Astroturf to find a subdued restaurant. At night, it becomes the center of the city’s alternative nightlife. “We only have this venue,” said psychotherapist Rolando Leon, 28, over a beer at a recent late-night event. “This is Chisinau, not Berlin.”

The walls were decorated with live photos. Pictures of dictators, including Stalin, Hussein and, most notably, the feared Moldovan tycoon and politician Vladimir Plachotniuc, were pasted on the cupboards. Acid techno from speakers. Dry ice filled the dance floor. One tattooed attendee wore an all-leather BDSM bunny mask and stomped like crazy. Two women twirled and their LED glasses glowed neon red. The party was called “Diasporav” and was held during the holidays for the Moldovan diaspora.

Alina Rivadari, 25, a graphic designer and DJ at the event, said, “The purpose of the Diasporave event is not only to share what we have experienced far from home, but also to help immigrants It is also a reminder to young people that they should never forget their origins.” And always contribute to the community that formed them. ’” She blasted a track by Korean DJ Messiah Waits and Los Angeles native Truncate.

Moldova was hit hard by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its economy was built around niche agricultural production in the protected Soviet market. In a predatory, laissez-faire environment, it stood little chance. Soviet subsidies were discontinued and about 25% of GDP disappeared. According to historian Vladimir Soronali’s 2003 paper, fuel and fertilizer costs skyrocketed, funds were siphoned offshore, and trade fell sharply. (1). The collapse was complete.

empire, kingdom, republic

The country has long developed a complex layer of identity, tugged on and off by great powers such as Ottoman vassals, parts of the Kingdom of Romania, and Soviet republics. “Moldova essentially lacked the experience of an independent existence,” Soronari writes. “Its political and managerial elite were not educated to run an independent state and market economy.”

Corruption began and poverty became rampant. Many people left the country in search of opportunities, resulting in the most serious brain drain. The family fell apart. The post-Soviet generation is generally raised by relatives and ignorant of the true meaning of the nuclear family. The remittance economy has certainly saved Moldova, but its psychological impact, if acutely felt, seems poorly articulated.

All is not lost. For Rivadari, large diaspora can use their experiences abroad as a tool for positive change upon their return. “As a Moldovan, my encounter with electronic music was a breakthrough moment. Every weekend people from different art departments gathered at a party to discuss cultural differences, philosophies and different notions of art.” she says. “When you return home after spending months or even years abroad, your amazing awareness of cultural differences can turn spoken narrative into real-life deeds.”

“My Love Across the River”

At another event, the duo Fanfarov & Vonaim played an experimental set that included hip-hop, electro and even folk music. Vonaim is Viktor Shmanenko, 38, who has been organizing events and playing in bands for many years. The night before, he was sitting in the studio of his own band, Self Programmed Deaf, running a set on a MIDI controller. The studio is hidden inside the state-owned Moldova Films, established by Soviet authorities in the 1950s. Once a majestic hilltop complex, now a dilapidated relic of historical epics, neorealist feature films and propaganda documentaries about parts of life .

He played a sample of his friend’s mother singing a sad song. Nistol Cure Palace (Nistol in cold water), he plans to incorporate it into tomorrow’s show. “It’s an old song about having a loved one across the river.” Romanian speakers call the Dniester the Nistor. It separates the separate territories of Moldova and Transnistria, and is currently home to 1,500 Russian troops. (2).

Russia’s war has hardened its identityist conventions, creating and perpetuating the Russophobia that Putin cites as the reason for his “special operations.” Baltic nationalism, for example, exposes the difference between the diplomatic “old Europe” and the ultranationalist currents of the new and more aggressive EU member states. Worse, NATO/US militarism has come to be framed as an urgent moral imperative.

Probably about 70% of Moldovans would condemn the war outright. But the surge in pro-Romanian support could prove to be as unpredictable as Putin’s fanatical Russian nationalism. There are few indications that ethnolinguistic differences could boil over here. But war is destabilizing.

“People now understand that it is easy to lose everything we have. This is a characteristic of the human mind,” Syumanenko said. “It’s important for all kinds of people close to the arts to have open connections, connections between different styles and musical genres.”

He opened YouTube and typed something. “Someone did something really great to loop the end of this great song.” It was the final two minutes, epic and melodic. randomly drawn straws Three hours of looping performances by Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah. The text in the video player read, “Listening to this will automatically make you feel better.” Summer in Moldova: Should the Party Stop?, by Glenn Johnson (Le Monde Diplomatic Office)

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