Dancing to Its Own Beat: Yuliia Stepanok’s Photo Essay on Western Ukraine


While Kyiv has grown to be Westerners’ favourite raving spot, grabbing all the headlines, my beloved Western Ukraine has started to organically grow our unique techno scene. Not too dissimilar to Kyiv, across cities such as my hometown of Ivano-Frankovsk, Lviv, and Chernivtsi, there has been a renewed sense of purpose and desire for societal change in the post-Maidan years.

We want to be Ukrainian and we want to be part of the broader world. I cannot say my work has a theme but I can certainly see in my friends, the random people I photograph, and everything in-between, a culture quickly evolving and some youthful Galician magic emerging. Slowly, something special is happening in the West of Ukraine.

Our techno scene is far different from Kyiv’s. We’re a lot smaller and less cosmopolitan than Kyiv but that is both our strength and weakness. We don’t get the new exciting acts from other countries coming to play our clubs. We don’t get as many attendees as Kyiv’s big nights and people certainly aren’t dressing in the most progressive fashion style. As much as Kyiv is exciting, we’re creating our little grassroots movement that is looking to create something local and equally worldly.

We aim to take those forgotten factories and industrial spaces with a certain mysterious character built during the Soviet Union, and then recreate them into ours, at least for a night. We replace all the workers that once filled these factories with young people still dreaming of a better day. One of our more established centres is Detali in Ivano-Frankovsk, where progressive and open-minded people come together to support each other’s artistic endeavours. It serves as our space for concerts, art gallery showings, and most importantly – where the best raves are thrown. In our medium-sized city, we’re able to get close to a thousand people to dance our night away.

Although we don’t dance till noon like in Kyiv, we dance in the embers of the past into the future; all to our own unique beat.


Yuliia on Instagram: