On August 25 – 26, I was lucky enough to attend Brave! Factory Festival in Kyiv. This event is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in Ukraine, and is taking place for the second year now. Brave! is organized by the team behind Closer, which is hands down the leading techno nightclub in Ukraine.
Like last year, Brave! was located at the working factory Metrobud. The 50,000 square meters festival site hosted 6 dancefloors and artworks exhibited by both international and Ukrainian artists. Taking a sex-positive and a drugs-positive stance, the festival emphasized safety and enabled festival attendees to get HIV tests and to have their drugs checked for safety on-site.
This year, the Brave! Factory Festival hosted 50 DJs from across the world, with performances of well-known artists such as DJ Stingray, Chris Liebing, DVS1, Jane Fitz, Bihn, Nicolas Lutz, Fred P, Squarepusher, and many more. In addition, top local DJs such as Alex Savage, Lobanov, Borys, Noizar, Voin Oruwu, Ponura, and Tolkachev were playing. Apart from dance music, Mykki Blanco, Hidden Orchestra, Ic3peak, and Floating Points were also in the lineup, so every electronic music lover could find a perfect artist for him or herself.
Unfortunately I missed the event last year, but all my friends had spoken about it. This year, I travelled back to Ukraine from Berlin to hit up the festival and figure out what was so special about this event.
In a time of no reprieve in Ukraine, us young people are bombarded with corruption, poverty, and the continuing conflict in Donbass. Brave! offers a space of relief, where we can express ourselves freely and act in unity. Festivals like Brave! are an opportunity to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals aspiring for a non-oppressive Ukraine, while engulfing ourselves with the sound of techno. During these times of struggle, the opportunities to feel like a member of a community come rare. Brave! offers this chance for us, members of the post-Soviet generation, to feel free of alienation. For a brief moment, we can imagine a life without war, hate, and hurt.
As Carl H. performed the closing set with Jane Fitz, I spoke to him about how this was his ultimate clubbing experience in his 10 years performing all over the world. Looking over the dance floor, it was stunning to see how the organizers, performers, and attendees came together in a perfect synergy to create this amazing event. I couldn’t help but feel that anyone across the world, looking to discover the beauty that is the Ukrainian club culture, would have to make sure to book their flight to Brave! in 2019.