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Kiev raves, Cxema parties, Dazed
November 2014Photography Lesha Berezovskiy

Documenting Kiev’s new ravers

Meet a fresh generation of Ukrainian club kids, born out of the country’s political unrest

You remember Kiev from news reports of the revolution last year when droves of young people joined the rebellion against the corrupt government. The battle on the street has finished but the spirit lives on, particularly amongst a growing generation of artist and photographers (see: Vova Vorotniov, Gorsad, Sasha Kurmaz) merging personal politics into their works alongside prolific underground rave and music scenes that could easily be the best in the world.

"During the revolution of 2013-14 all our nightlife stopped, and I realised I miss good parties," says DJ and promoter Slava Lepsheev. "I also saw that this whole new amazing generation emerged, and they have nowhere to go." Slava started the party Cxema (pronounced Skhema) in April 2014 completely on his own, and now has a small team helping with basic event organising, graphic design, video and photography. The story here is of course about great music (listen to some of the podcasts here), but also about reclaiming and exploring the city. "We had parties at a disused factory building, in a massive club on one of the floors of another factory, on the street by the garages with a bar in one of them, in an abandoned 50s restaurant at Trukhaniv Island, in a skatepark under the bridge by the Dnieper river with people dancing on the ramp," he remembers.

Cxema is more a labour of love than that of a business venture: all the budget comes from Slava's savings and his credit card. "Because of the economic problems it's impossible to bring international artists as a business, so it gives opportunities to young producers and promoters to grow. Some of it is quite amateur but we have more parties now than three or four years ago”.

The series is compiled from photographs taken at various Cxema parties by Séan Schermerhorn, Yana Mikhaylenko, Marija Radosavljević and Lesha Berezovskiy. Shot on film, the images capture the young and the reckless of a new generation of Ukrainians devoting their nights to techno music. It's a unique glimpse into what they do, wear and how they dance and love when nobody's watching. Sometimes it even seems these parties belong to the past – or to some utopian future. They are free from the corporate world of the nightlife business, the state long forgotten in the West after the 90s. These are how raves should be.

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