Image for The techno ‘clean-up raves’ restoring Ukraine

The techno ‘clean-up raves’ restoring Ukraine

Ukrainian DJs are spinning the vinyl in bombed-out buildings as part of a spirited effort to rebuild towns destroyed by Russian artillery

Ukrainian DJs are spinning the vinyl in bombed-out buildings as part of a spirited effort to rebuild towns destroyed by Russian artillery

The rave scene has a famously DIY attitude to hard partying, but in Ukraine techno heads have taken things a step further by combining dance events with fixing up bombed-out buildings.

Repair Together drew 200 people from as far away as Portugal and the US to dance among the debris in the village of Yahidne, 87 miles north-east of Kyiv, where DJ Oleksandr Buchinskiy blasted out techno from turntables mounted on ammunition boxes.

Their thirst for repetitive beats sated, the ravers – mostly Ukrainian – grabbed shovels and wheelbarrows, turning their hands to clearing the shattered remains of a cultural centre razed by a Russian missile strike.

The village was occupied by Russian forces on 3 March and liberated by the Ukrainian army on 31 March, but many buildings there were ruined amidst the fighting. As of August, 131,000 buildings in Ukraine have been destroyed by Russian missile strikes and shelling, according to the Kyiv School of Economics.

Repair Together began initially by cleaning bomb sites without the backdrop of electronica, but later added the party element to draw in volunteers. 

Ukrainian Veronika Sitovska was one of them. She returned to her homeland over the summer break from studying in Germany and felt compelled to join Repair Together in their mission.


Clean-up raves have been held in three Ukrainian villages, with more events planned. Image: Veronika Sitovska

“It was a must for me,” said the student, speaking from Kyiv. “I can’t just stand on the side and watch. We have to keep on moving – with music, and by cheering ourselves up. It’s the only way we can be useful – otherwise we’re just going to sit there and cry, and that’s no use to anyone.”

The clean-up raves are seen as a much-needed return to some sense of normality for young people in Ukraine, while also giving them a stake in the wartime effort. 

Repair Together has so far hosted nine clean-up raves in three villages, as well as carrying out repairs to homes damaged by shelling. Their next mission is to build 12 houses in the nearby town of Lukashivka before the winter.

Main image: Alexey Furman/Getty

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