This summer in Moscow, two huge and important outdoor festivals took place. The first one was in Moscow’s famous Krasnaya Presnya Park. The festival was massively attended by the people of Moscow. It included just about everything; all kinds of live music, plays, shows, debates, stalls, clowns, animations, you name it. The theme of this annual event in Moscow is to provide lots of comprehensive entertainment for children and their families.

And importantly, rock’n’roll played a significant role in it. For example, I along with my dance co-operative members (Co-op Jive) organised a dance master class for children and their Mums and Dads. This included a social dancing session to round off the class. And later in the afternoon, at one of the big concert areas in the park, rock’n’roll bands performed. Overall, a great day for rock’n’roll in Moscow!

To tell you more about this great event, I’ve invited my friend Alexey Kilikovsky, a long time regular on the Moscow rockin’ scene, to write for you about it. Most of you will remember he has already written in this column this year and his writing style is, to quote from a previous phrase I used in this column about him, “a very individual one, replete with many metaphors and digressions!” Take it away, Alex:

“Hip-hip hurray! Today’s the day Time to come out and play! It’s time for a party A real big party And You Are invited by the way!”

The words from Danny Fromajio’s song, “Let’s Throw a Party”, are a perfect way to describe our time at the Kids Rock Fest this summer. It was hot under the sun on this day, though there was sometimes some wind.

Being close to the International Trade Tower in Moscow, the Park is very beautiful and well maintained. It is on the bank of the Moscow river, there are some water courses over which the romantic bridges in the park were built. By the banks of the channels there are paths and on the sides benches; everywhere there are trees and lawns.

Today it was filled with kids, parents, adults, tents, shops, animators, sounds, voices, music, balloons, clowns and all other kinds of stuff for the big event. Yeah, but where to find some of our dance class members, for our master class show? I went to the sounds of speakers. The first stage was occupied with a hard rock group, music which does not lend itself to dance, but it does help one to shout, to stomp, to shake heads like horses and waving any head gear like Iroquois Indians. This day there were a lot of people, a lot of sites and a lot of groups in the park: But la-de-da, where oh where were our dancers?

Just to the opposite of the park entrance there was an all-girls band in leather and jeans giving a powerful musical drive, filled by the roar of overloaded amplifiers, drum lines and rumbling, through which the high voice soloist broke out in song, with the usual rocker twists; hysterics, hoarseness, change of pitch, pace and sheer illegibility of texts. At least I was glad that the songs were in Russian. Also I was pleased that I did not understand a word, for the chorus was divided into syllables, all accelerating repetitions of the name of the city “Syktyvkar” (in sweet Siberia), exclaimed from the heart, as if calling the audience to the barricades! I was about 100 metres away and still I could hear; “Sick! Tiff! Car!, ” Sick! Tiff! Car! SICK! TIFF! CARRRR!”

On the dance floor of the theatre stage our friend Valery, one of our dancers, was standing holding a cell phone in one hand near his ear, shouting to the person on the other end. On the other end was clearly a fellow dancer, also looking for where we were to perform the master class. Valery was telling the person that they were to turn to the right, at the same time he was sort of kicking the air with powerful swings of the other hand to the right (as if this gesture could help to inform the phone listener). Having seen me, Valery shouted to the listener in condescension; “Here! Alex has come! But you for 10 minutes already cannot find the way! R-r-right! Go to the r-r-right!”

Except for Valery and minus the lost soul who was hanging out somewhere else for the last 10 minutes, nobody was on the dancefloor. I wasn’t astonished: Such boring ballads were being sung from the stage, that I also left for the stage where Richard, our dance class leader, was supposed to be. It was a playground where children’s performances was being held.

The kids there were really enjoying themselves. Especially surprising for me was to watch their cool rocker parents with chains, rings and studs on their clothes (even on their own skin!), in bright outfits and in mystical tattoos (which can tell a lot, but only to those who were into that genre) with their children on their shoulders; kissing them with love, muttering to them softly. Some children followed their parents in clothes and in behaviour, some of them – no. There were several master classes for them at the festival: drawing, fairy tales, modeling, a lot of tiny cars of different brands and classes and inevitably tiny motorbikes. The most rocker-like master class, to which was a line as long as the one to the public toilet, was a possibility to play on a real drum set, a few pieces of which stood by and the stunned kids were competing to find out which one of them could sound louder than the others!

As always in Russia, the schedule of events was changed and Richard’s dance master class ended up coinciding with the Dans Ramblers band, who were performing Beatles numbers. Me and my friend Olga were running between these 2 sites. The two of us spent most of our time with the Dans Ramblers, but the dance master class was a big success, with lots of participants, both children and adults. All those who were around the class were either dancing or looking happy!

The master class was over and on the main stage were the Stone Shades band in action. And yes, as their name indicates they were mainly performing songs of the Rolling Stones, plus quite casually exchanging words with each other and the public.

16:00 – finally on stage – the Raw Cats! – at full strength! They are already very well-known musicians in Russia and their performances are expensive, that’s why they often perform separately. But today the organisers were not greedy and everybody can enjoy them in full set; in full colour and in full power! Precise clockwork rhythm, great harmonies and coherences, a fantastic solo on the piano, mesmerising Presley-like voice on vocals, which brought out onto the dance floor the adults and the children. It was like an animated newsreel from the 1950s, with dancing pairs trying to show all their skills and possibilities! And dancing to the Rawcats, the male participants could get the answer to their secret sexy question – whether one very beautiful girl in a blue dress styled for the 50s, trimmed with lace, stylishly combined with a nice haircut, with some cute tiny turquoise trinket, sparkling in her hair, with light shoes (also stylish), “Does she wear flirtatious lace black stockings?” The answer – No! She was in black lace pantyhose, but this answer only added charm to her and to the dances with her!

The sun, the drive of the music, the free space for dancing resulted in my shirt being marked with dark sweaty spots, though for ventilation I unzipped all the “valves”, on the shoulder blades, sides and shoulders. But I couldn’t chill myself out in the shadow. The first chords of “Viva Las Vegas” carried me and Olga again onto the dance floor and we started a polka dance race, covering the dancefloor with circles, squares, eights and other dance (and some not quite dance) figures, trying to avoid the impacts with other pairs and trying not to kick the kids on the dance floor who were making use of the free space.

Yes, it was a great festival! The sun, children, smiles, music, vanilla ice cream, smell of baking, etc. Walking along the paths I got a mystical sense of dejavue – at last I remembered; it was the same mixture of things 15 years ago, when I was with my small daughter at the Disney World park near Paris.

In conclusion, Thanks to Richard and his Co-op Jive dance group, for helping towards a movement where ordinary people will see in each other partners and not only in dancing. And let’s leave the confrontation between peoples, States and systems to the likes of James Bond, Colonel Maxim Isayev and of course to Our Man Flint!

Thankyou Alex, for another very individually written piece! By the way, if his reference in his final paragraph to Maxim Isayev and Our Man Flint left you looking blank and failed to put a smile on your face, don’t worry – it just means you’re too young to know and remember those famous fictional comical movie characters from a generation ago! Next month Alex will conclude with a review of another massive Moscow festival, where again rock’n’roll played a big big role. Until then, don’t touch that dial.

Richard Hume