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CASTLEDANCE – VYBORG, 07/07/07 - 08/07/07

by Galina Zueva

11.35 PM – 12.55 AM
After the two hour ride from St. Petersburg, I stroll the streets of Vyborg haphazardly, the endless mass of other wandering souls posing as some sort of guiding star towards the castle. After the quaint, silent and bumpy lanes of this bilingual town, I am met by security lines that rival bread lines. Teens threaten to break down the barrier and revolt – all in the name of dance, house and partying. Luckily, we are subdued by pretty boys fluttering their lashes behind silk fans and girls who advertise the following dance party on their bottoms (care of yellow fluorescent stickers’ attached – a good way to advertise). I made friends with a couple of clowns who insisted on asking me about crocodiles, kangaroos and Kylie Minogue. By this time, mosquitoes have eaten several limbs, and the queue resembles a pit of human error. We are told that there is a second entry: only the optimistic budge, while the rest of us turn in our toes and point out our elbows.

1.30 AM
After having security examine the stitches and patches of my bag, I am finally let in. The bottle of cognac (which helped past the time while waiting in line) and the bottle of water are both turfed. I couldn’t care less – at least I am not doomed to birl all night long in line. The crowd is thick with revelry; the usual stereotype of Russian asperity is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it’s the music (which is now being sampled by DJ Nick Warren), drugs, or luscious surroundings of Vyborg, but there is no sign of drunken disorderliness usually associated with Russia. In fact, although beer is being sold, people are more interested in scudding along the dust in their trainers, donning cowboy hats, and possessing the night with all sorts of thrusts into the air. I am dancing amongst maenads decked out in colour combinations of baby blue, baby pink and citrus orange: I have not taken any drugs, but feel that I must be on some type of psychotropic substance when several people apologise for bumping into me, as this act of kindness would not even be kosher on the metro, I am confused and chuckle.

2.45 – 3.30 AM
Paper lanterns are let off into the air, as are flying condoms, while people on stilts walk around with fire. It is all very kitsch, until I notice that there is a catwalk where young boys and girls dressed as sex angels (I really find it difficult to explain the odd mixture of acrylic wings, wigs and go-go shorts), perform all sorts of gyrations with each other. Despite the internationalism of the dance party, this seems typically Russian and people join in the gyrations. At this stage, DJ Marco V bows to the crowd as if we are the east, his act is reciprocated, and then proceeds with musical mayhem. At this point in time, I decide I need water and survey the stalls. There is not one bottle left anywhere. I almost get into a fight with a security guard, who won’t let me into a VIP area to buy water. After calling him every name under the sun in Russian (remember, I am dying of first at this stage, plus I am in an atmosphere of creativity), I buy a green tea and recline on the grass, feeling about 80 years old as I realize that everyone is almost under 25 years old. Perhaps that’s the reason drugs are so popular are these events: to create illusions to detract from man-made illusions?

4.00 AM
I cannot remember the name of the last DJ: I am much more captivated by people who insist on dancing under white sheets, raving under cocoons of potential claustrophobia. Meanwhile, I sweet-talk security into letting me into a VIP area in order to photograph people while the sun is rising and such obeisance towards a foreigner from a Russian official stuns me. I watch from above as the crowd meld and then spall as if an orchestra, each having his own solo, and then swirling back into one form. People’s arms shoot out into the air, while the joints bounce about, spitting out any energy that may be left over. The rise of the sun has dimmed some of the romanticism for me, but others were still partying while I left and were still partying even on the train back home to St. Petersburg. Despite not being a fan of electronica, I am beguiled by the evening (or day, should I say?) and the Russian tradition of celebrating whatever, wherever.

PS – As the humble scribe had a silver ticket (which cost 400 roubles as opposed to the gold 1,500 and platinum 2,500 tickets), it means that her impressions and opinion are from a generally shared experience of limited means. Only those who drove up in beemers and mercs seemed to enter the actual castle which is the highlight of the party, while the rest of us were in fields testing the hospitality of the rain gods.

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