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Photo by Lesha Berezovski

Beauty looks from Kyiv's Cxema rave


TextAnna Bilous

Photographer Lesha Berezovski took his camera to Cxema, a Ukrainian underground party, to capture the creepy contacts, body paint and skinheads of its ravers

For the first in our series of global reports, which investigate attitudes to beauty around the world, art director Ben Ditto headed to Ukraine to create seven stories on bodybuilders, bridal traditions, wig trade, rave style, salon culture, wreaths, and beauty among the older generations. Read his editor's letter here

 

For the last five years, Ukrainians have lived in a state of constant social and political tension with ongoing war, attacks on social activists, martial law and presidential elections. Every day feels more like living in a TV show. It’s not surprising that we look for ways to cope with the tensions and to shift focus from work an unstable political situation onto something else. Many young people are finding this by joining right-wing movements, looking for ideological platforms to express themselves. Others reject thinking about politics altogether, instead choosing freedom and music through rave. They prepare for parties far in advance, creating their own futuristic looks from clothes bought at the local football pitch-sized thrift-shops and putting on fancy make-up to dissolve into crowds of like-minded people and the flow of electronic rhythms.

This is a movement that unites graphic designers, photographers and artists with IT specialists, new political leaders and self-appointed blockchain experts. People come to Kyiv from other cities and even countries just to visit local clubs and DIY dance spaces. Many in Kyiv would argue that the raves have done more for global public relations than the Ministry of Culture has ever managed. They have become an intrinsic part of modern Ukrainian culture. 

It is not surprising that everyone is looking for ways to cope with the tensions and ways to shift their focus from their work and the unstable political situation onto something else. Many young people are finding this by joining right-wing movements, looking for ideological platforms to express themselves. Others, on the contrary, reject thinking about politics altogether, instead choosing freedom, music, raves. They prepare for parties far in advance, creating their own futuristic looks from clothes bought at the local thrift-shops and putting on fancy make-up to dissolve into crowds of like-minded people and into the flow of electronic rhythms.

Raves are sort of a way to relax for young people, and also provides an opportunity to express themselves by dressing up in a certain way. This is a wave that unites graphic designers, photographers, artists and other young people in the creative industries with IT specialists, new political leaders or even those old self-appointed blockchain experts.

People are coming to Kyiv from other cities or even countries just to visit local clubs and DIY dance spaces. Many would argue that the raves have done more to attract the attention of foreigners to Kyiv than the Ministry of Culture has. They are an intrinsic part of modern Ukrainian culture.

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