If you find yourself down-and-out, having spent your bottom Euro avidly hitting Berlin clubs, this year’s ADE and Sónar festivals blew past your plans just like Ryanair has flown by the Ukrainian market, and there is not a single Kyiv-based couch left to surf on after Cxema or Closer, but your soul craves for techno; surprisingly, Lviv, in the Galicia region of western Ukraine, does have something offer.
Harbour no illusions: Lviv’s clubbing culture is neither Detroit futurism, nor Frankfurt underground – it faces some serious gaps when it comes to demand generation, regularity, and line up cooperation and composition. However – in spite of the skeptics – let’s recollect the events which have pleasantly tickled the Lviv techno community with their DIY-mentality, light industrial flair for 90s aesthetics and, to some extent, the polynymous nature of the gigs. This piece is not an attempt to glorify specific people – it is rather an attempt to romanticize what organizers, performers and ravers tend to cultivate beat per beat: the Lviv techno scene, no matter what condition it’s in. A bird in the hand is worth two in Berghain, you know.
So here’s a list of events and locations that have, slowly but steadily, nurtured a love for electronic music, the ability to truly enjoy oneself, and cardio workouts in the form of dancing that are infamous in Slavonic circles.
A series of events by Textura is perhaps the most observable techno phenomenon in Lviv. As described on their website, this promo group is always looking for (and actually finding) “inspiration exclusively in the simplicity of urban basement relief, sincerity of the underground gigs, natural quality of techno alongside reflective dancing.”
Apart from the performers endemic to the Lviv-grown community, such as Svarog, Karma Detalis and Lawrin, Textura attracts avid ravers to the locally-recognized venues of Robert Doms Hop House, Underground and Subkultura, by presenting no less recognizable names, like Yan Cook or Cliche Morph. Anticipated sound quality, holography of visual effects, and a peculiar atmosphere, even during smoke breaks – all this makes one eagerly anticipate the next Textura like a kid longs for Christmas. Besides event management, Textura may take pride in enlightening techno endeavours by means of podcasts, blogs and the activity of its members beyond Ukraine.
A Wonderland of its kind, moved from Lewis Carroll’s book to LORTA, a former electronic equipment manufacturer, where this summer’s Bookworm Music Fest gladly received local book lovers in 5 halls catering to different genres (including techno) with paper cut-outs from 90s fashion magazines, (post)Soviet slogans, and DIY decorations hanging around (a special shout-out to the Teahouse with hammocks, sagging sofas, and carpets on the wall). The techno floor had some room for improvement in terms of sound, but the level of light effects counterbalanced it all.
Likewise, a young and reckless art platform, A.factory has pleasantly surprised local audiences with a range of locations under an umbrella series with a self-explanatory title, Factory RAVE. Apart from the aforementioned LORTA, a few events took place in a deserted industrial hub of the city. From dusk till dawn, ravers have been taking night shifts at the abandoned factories to the sound of dance machine tools operated by Basement Cat, Mike Trofimov, Borman, Demos, Electro Omar, Cape Cod, and others.
This atmospheric creative space hosts a wide range of events – from art installations and single-performer concerts to new school gigs like GRЯZ or vinyl-refined events such as Dzvin. It comes as no surprise that this make-yourself-at-home hall throws juicy techno parties every now and then with such performers as Terry Mutini, Lstn, Pahatam, and BSKD dropping the needles.
Lviv Film Center
The old but gold Sokil cinema welcomes not only viewers, but also those ready to stomp techno-beats both in the cinema hall itself and a more underground (literally and metaphorically) basement (saying hi to Efir, a freshly baked group which, in a sorry-not-sorry mode, has recently made its first contribution to the Lviv techno-scene development.)
Being knee-deep in techno, there are too many single-timers to mention: Цех, Shatanyna, 10 корпус, unfortunately uncrowded techno-sessions in FESTrepublic, which occurred sporadically, but were worth slipping on a rave outfit for.
To draw a line, techno does exist in Lviv. Its condition and circumstances? Well, that’s another story, but what definitely makes Lviv stand out is its relentless endeavour to make techno happen, an undesigning absence of commercialization, which is slowly undermining European clubbing culture, and a dichotomous symbolism of a somewhat intimate and hedonistic feeling of here and now.
Unlike Kyiv or Berlin, Lviv retains its small-town romance, which in the spirit of youthful maximalism, is striving to appeal to bigger crowds but is subconsciously afraid to dust its housewarming mise en scene. Come and lviv it yourself.