Diana McCarty on Wed, 6 Nov 96 12:33 MET

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nettime: Tekno Scene in Croatia

Tekno Scene in Croatia: Under Construction
Benjamin Perasovic

Intro: Before the War/Before Techno
"The Scene" - beautiful, powerful, lovely notion. It is a common denominator
for hundreds (smaller or bigger) scenes, groups and individuals. The world
of life. Sociologists used more notions, like "youth subcultures",
"counter-culture(s)". "Alternative scene" - it was another term, especially
adequate in the second half of the 80-es, considering Croatia or
ex-Yugoslavia. It was a good description of the special "place" where new
social movements meet sub/contra cultural actors. The last "integrative
point" for the scene in Zagreb, (Croatia), was the existence of "Galerrija
Esce", The Gallery of Students Center, where punks used to meet performance
artists, reggae fans were listening to hard-core, football hooligans were
looking at the installations and experimental video, the generation of "16"
mixed with the generation of "35", and those of "25" were shocked when they

met "less then 10" years old kids during the concerts of Fugazi, Helios Creed,
MDC, Victims family...That was too good to be alive longer than one
year. The year was 1991. The most creative and positive period turned
into the time of war.

Before the war, the history of urban tribes in Croatia followed "normal"
(in fact, abnormal) development described by english sociologists; dominant
culture was honestly doing its job, making "moral panics" every year or so.
In the dominant and controlled media all punks in one moment became
neo-nazis, all fans of "dark", "gothic" music became members of the sects
with a duty to commit suicide, all football fans became nationalists
(later, after the war, footbal fans became anti-national elements for the
nationalistic governments) and so on. In the first few months of war, some
tribes joined the battle (more than certain observers expected, because it
was defensive war in that phase), some of the tribesmen escaped from the
country, small core of previous eco-peace-women groups formed anti-war
campaign, and some people started a new scene, a new tribe.

The first techno-party was organised in Zagreb in november of 1991, in the
middle of war and between air-raids. It was the start. Because of the war,
people spent more time in the shelters than on the parties, but first real
cease-fire in the spring of 1992 helped the appearance of techno scene. The
organisers of the first party said that "type of solidarity you learn in
the shelters is helpful for the good party". 1993 was a year of growth.
>From the small events with techno music, brain-machines, fractal graphics,
energy- drinks and cult films (like Akira), techno found its own club
nights, one and then two times a week. In October of 1993, 3000 people met
each other at the first international rave, called the "under city rave"
because the location was inside a big atomic shelter, under the old city of
Zagreb. 1994, it became visible that techno presented a new youth movement,
a style with certain colors, symbols, drugs, music, behaviour, but open to
many other kinds of expression, not closed as the "final", finished, frozen
image. Silver jacket, astro- look, dwarf's cap, it was a part of the style,
but thousands of others felt they belonged to the techno crowd in their old
clothes as well. People discovered and emphasized ways of non-verbal
comunication. When older people asked them - what's the message, they were
speaking about peace, non-violence, tolerance, trance and dance, but
many of them couldn't hide the pleasure of the absence of messages. One of
the ravers shouted: "We don't need no messages, neither political nor
love messages. Each of us has his or her own psycho-physical abilities
to feel and understand the sound, the light, and the people around. No
more words!"

The first problems, critics, rejections and accusations came from the other
actors on the scene, mainly from the actors of rock- culture. They felt
jeopardized because some stickers, imported from the international techno
scene, were saying "90-es: No more fucking rock'n'roll". The System, the
dominant culture in Croatia, was still silent, and dependent medias were
surprised that something new (techno music) is bringing thousands of young
people to the places where "up to yesterday" only refugees lived their
tragic life. Big sport halls, after sad pictures of the refugees, were
filled again, and controlled medias shared sometimes certain enthusiasm
towards it, especially when hundreds of young people from Slovenia,
Austria, Hungary and other countries became the first tourists in a country
still busy with war. They came to visit big Croatian raves, with known
foreign dj-s. Techno as a mass youth movement was a special response to the
Croatian situation troubled by war, an authoritarian style of governing and
the lack of perspectives, but when dominant culture joined the game, the
issue was drugs. In the name of "drug war", a typical moral panic, a
hysteria against techno developed in many media. The techno program on TV
was cancelled, pages
in newspapers were full of "victims of ecstasy" stories, police used to
break up the parties and to make one-hour raids, sometimes with a desperate
wish to arrest someone, at least with a "Bayer" pill. It was a late
response to pretty strong youth culture, and drugs were the cheap excuse
for aggression against something "different", "non-understandable",
extremly urban, "hedonistic" and international.

In the same time, the scene divided in itself, because of the fragmentation
of styles, because of the "underground vs. commercial" part of the
predictable story. The western ravers, guests, dj-s, people from the first
MayDay or from other symbolic corners of the techno world, found
"enthusiastic delay" in Croatia. They enjoyed parties in Zagreb where 7000
people used to dance together, doesn't matter if it's Ramirez on stage, or
hard-core dj from Berlin's Bunker. Trance, Acid, Mellow, Hard-Core,
everything together. It was just the question of time when will the
Croatian scene follow the fragmentation and multiplication of styles, when
will people realise that Mayday becomes PayDay, when will each individual
learn how to live around or between 4 main entities, metaphors, energetic
fields or dimensions of (techno) life: Computer, Tribe, Love, Chemistry.

Many Croatian urban tribes are sending the message about their life on the
Internet. It seems that football hooligans are the most successful ones.
Their pages are always updated, from the color pictures of the tribe to
systematic datas about matches of their clubs. Pages of the techno
freaks speaks a lot about euphoria from 1994 and 1995, and a change in
the mood is evident. Unfortunately, the change is not made only from
within, or in a confrontation with other dimensions of social life,
neither is change product of different relationships between the parts
of the scene and market economy. The so-called crisis is caused also by
the repression from the government, by the campaign of moral panic in
the society, by the direct police intervention in the body and soul of
the scene. It's time for a new chapter. Techno scene is under
construction, again.

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