Illegal techno music festival in Northern Bohemia enters 6th day

31-07-2002

A huge illegal techno music festival known as Czechtek has now entered its 6th day near the village of Andelka in North Bohemia. Organisers kept the venue of this year's Czechtek festival secret until the very last moment, and thousands of young people from the Czech Republic and abroad started arriving at the site last Friday.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Andelka is a small village located on the Czech-Polish border; it used to be an agricultural village but now the fields are overgrown with weeds. Those fields have been home to thousands of techno fans over the last six days. While at the festival's peak there were an estimated 12,000 people there, police say so far the event has passed without serious incident. And if local people are unhappy about the 24-hour barrage of loud techno music, they have not filed any official complaints. Radio Prague spoke to the mayor of Visnova, Marie Matuskova, who said she had expected the festival to be a lot worse:

"Naturally I was very scared for my village, because I didn't know what to expect. But at this point I'd like to appeal to all journalists to report the truth about what's going on because when you are left in the dark, it creates fears. When you speak to some of the participants, things get clearer, and it helps a lot."

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTKMrs. Matuskova said participants have actually been surprised how tolerant local people have been - they have even been concerned that the ravers have enough water. As the number of participants rose, the volume and number of sound systems increased as well, and people in Andelka began complaining about the noise and vibrations. While some people in the village have appeared on television in the last few days calling the ravers 'wild' and 'hooligans', Mrs. Matuskova says that in her experience 99 percent of them are decent people. And, she adds, there have not been serious problems with drugs.

"That's the thing that worried me the most, because I imagined a meadow completely covered with used syringes and children playing with them. But I have found that if there are junkies here injecting pervitine or heroin, they are a small minority. The dancers themselves have told me they were mostly on party drugs such as ecstasy. And only a few are what they call clean, meaning they only smoke grass."

Some of the participants may look intimidating, said Mrs. Matuskova, but they aren't really so tough - some of them told her they dreamed about getting home to their mother's cooking.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTKThe biggest problem now is hygiene: there are only 40 chemical toilets available, so the vicinity is quite dirty. Despite the fact that some participants have been taking their rubbish with them, the site is still covered in piles of rubbish. Health officials say they have been shocked by what they've seen at the festival site, but they have been thwarted by the fact that it is not clear who the organisers are, and if they are still at the site. Otherwise fines of more than two million crowns could be imposed. Some fines have been levied - the police have collected over 100,000 crowns for minor motoring offences.

While the numbers attending Czechtek have fallen considerably from the peak of 12,000 a few days ago, the festival is expected to continue until Sunday.

31-07-2002