& Paradiso present
A Psychedelic Techno Trance Party
- Novi Sad, Serbia (Yugoslavia)
[This report was
written in part aboard an ICE bullet train while speeding at 150+
Km/h from Frankfurt to Stuttgart]
In spite of the bombed
buildings and broken bridges, the rave scene is alive and well in
Serbia, the major part of the former Yugoslavia. The Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia now consists of Serbia and it's smaller,
and independence minded partner state, Montenegro. I was
very fortunate while visiting the Spectronika factory in Sofia
Bulgaria, the world's leading manufacturer of sealed copper vapor
lasers, to be invited by Technocratica to perform at a party in
Novi Sad. After some phone calls, faxes and a couple of
trips to the Yugoslav embassy in Sofia, where grim faced officials
suspiciously wondered why a Canadian would want to visit their war
ravaged country, I finally obtained my visa.
Technocrtaica is more than a rave promotion company, they are an
arts and culture organization with a focus on Techno and Trance
music. Throughout the years of the repressive Melosivic
regime, they have remained strictly politically neutral while
focusing on the promotion of parties [as raves are called in this
part of the word], electronika and youth culture. In a
country that has essentially been shunned by the world for the
last decade, Technocratica has brought electronic music and DJs
from Europe, the UK and the USA to Serbia to keep people abreast
of the music and culture of the free world.
A common site in
Serbia: A wall full of posters advertising upcoming raves.
Note the black poster with the Fist symbol on the right - a
poster for "OTPUR" the student resistance movement
that played a key part in the popular uprising.
Raving has an
interesting history in Serbia. In most parts of the world,
raves are an underground phenomenon of youth culture regarded with
suspicion and often vilified in the press. In Serbia, quite
the opposite is the case. Raves were actually started by
Technorcatica through their press, radio and TV programs!
Techno and Trance music is incredibly popular and it is not
unusual to hear it blaring from local radio stations or the many
record kiosks that dot the streets of Beograd [the correct
spelling of what we in the west call Belgrade].
building with spray-painted political slogans. Right:
Close up of the front doors which were trashed in the
I spent a few days in
Belgrade where I stayed at a small hotel just across the park from
the Parliament buildings. Since I had arrive barely a week
after the popular uprising that toppled the Melosevich regime, the
smashed doors of the parliament buildings had still not been
repaired and fire damage was still evident on the side of the
building. Just outside my window, was the balcony from which
Mr. Kostunitisa gave his famous speech declaring himself the
winner of the election and touching off the uprising.
Hotel room view:
Presidential palace to the left and behind the Beograd City
Parliament and it's famous balcony to the right and in the
My host, Dusan, took
me out to dinner at a restaurant in the old quarter of town.
We dined by candlelight. Not to have a romantic dinner, but
because power rationing was in effect. Restaurants in that
part of town were only permitted to use electricity for food
preparation. After dinner, we went to a small club [about
250 capacity] where we listened to local DJs playing hard trance
music for the enjoyment of a packed dance floor.
The following day, I wandered about and looked at the famous
building. I also took a walk through the area where many
government and military buildings were bombed by NATO forces.
I as amazed to see the pinpoint accuracy with which Military
installations had been destroyed without doing any damage to
buildings just across the street.
Two views of the
bombed out Ministry Of Defense building on one of Beograd's
main streets in the Downtown area.
That night I was
invited to take part in Dusan’s weekly all night rave radio show
broadcast on Serbian national radio. The staff of the radio
station had ousted the management and was now in control of the
programming. Gone were the dull Serbian national folksongs,
the slanted news and government approved propaganda. The
were replaced with more upbeat programming and news from
international wire services. The weekly Rave program had
been running for some time but now with a new spirit and energy.
One rule still remained in effect; everything had to be translated
into Serbian. This mean that my interview went quite slowly
as Dusan asked a question in Serbian, then translated it to
English for my benefit. I would then reply a paragraph at a
time so that he could translate my reply into Serbian.
Show host Dusan
(left) and DJ Sun (right) at the controls of Radio Politika
- Serbian National Radio
Dusan is also the host
of a weekly TV program that covers the “party Scene” with
interviews of visiting DJs and reports from Raves and clubs.
I had some demo CDs from Canadian DJs with me so we played some of
those on the air. The trance music scene in Serbia tends to
lean more toward hard/dark trance. My hosts found the
Canadian offerings had more of a “commercial trance” sound.
(left) being interviewed about the Canadian Rave scene on
Serbian National Radio by Dusan Kalicanin (right).
The radio station had
also been a victim of the uprising. Outgoing staff had
stolen CD players, tape recorders, microphones and other items to
sell. As a result, we had only one microphone in the studio,
which we had to share. After the radio show, I went back to
the hotel and watched the late night “Art of Techno” TV show
which plays 4 to 5 hours of trance and techno music while the
screen is filled with the type of visulation effects one commonly
sees at Raves.
On Friday, I set out
with Dejan to Novi Sad which is about 95 Km from Beograd.
Novi Sad was one of the cities most heavily bombed by NATO.
It has strategic importance, as it is Serbia’s major port of
entry on the Danube River and there is a very large oil refinery
After taking a look at the castle that
overlooks the city, and inspecting some of the bombed out bridges,
we headed to the club.
One of the
bombed out bridges in Novi Sad dangling into the Danube
The party was held in
a large club, Club Paridiso, which was housed in a sports complex
with an arena and swimming pool next door. Built in more
prosperous times before the embargo, it featured an excellent
sound system and plenty of moving lights. Many of the moving
lights did not work, as times are so hard that getting spare light
bulbs had been very difficult and expensive with the embargo in
place. The decor was also very well done although becoming a
bit frayed at the edges.
The in-house tech crew, who spoke very good English, warmly
welcomed me and gave me a tour of their equipment. We had a
great time sitting in the VIP lounge and discussing sound,
lighting and laser technology. They regaled me with stories
of how that had set up lawn chairs on the roofs of apartment
buildings and then sat there drinking beer and watching the NATO
bombing. They told me they would take bets on how many times
the refinery and military bases would be hit.
They also told me that there “favorite bomb” was the so-called
soft bomb, which was dropped on electrical sub-stations. It
did not exploder destroying the installation but rather covered it
in a cloud of graphite causing it to short out but still leaving
the equipment repairable. Apparently the blue/white flash of
a shorting high voltage transformer station was quite a sight to
see although I have some problem with the concept of having a
“favorite bomb” as I am a pacifist.
Just before the party started, I stood on the steps outside the
Club Paridiso and watched the lights in the surrounding area go
out – an eerie experience to see the lights wink out block by
block. Serbia is in the grip of a severe power shortage and
blackouts for 3 to 5 hours are rotated around the country to help
cut power consumption. The club was not affected, as the
downtown core is a “priority area” where the power remains on.
The party was packed.
This was a surprise to Technocratica as it was an “expensive
party” with a door admission price equivalent to $ 4.00 US$.
Beer was only $1 US$ a bottle at the bar. Times are so
rough, and the country so poor, that most people can only afford a
ticket and a couple of beers for their night on the town.
Many people were just drinking water which sold for $0.40 US$ per
As one so often sees in European clubs, people were dressed in
their finest fashions for the party. There were no “Phat
pants” or “Kandy Kids” to be seen. There was a live PA
by a local hard-trance/techno group, Analogue Synthesis, as well
as a lengthy set from DJ Sun [one of the most popular DJs in
Serbia]. Psychedelic trance DJ Greg was imported from Greece
for the occasion. In Serbia, DJ sets are also much longer at
2-2.5 hours that I am used to hearing at western parties which
gives the DJ more time to “tell a story with music” in the
words of DJ Sun.
Despite years of communist oppression, a war, rolling power
blackouts and high unemployment, the rave scene is very much
alive, well and flourishing due to the dedication of local DJs and
promoters such as Technocratica.
We took lots of
pictures as usual! Below are links to pages with more photos -
of the party, the people, etc.. This page has 15 pics so
could take a while to download...
Images of the people at the party... This page with 16 pics
will take a while to download....
BACK to Show Reports Main Page