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August 18, 2018
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Czech town's "Multicolored Festival" will feature Romani rapper from Slovakia

18.7.2017 11:17
Martin Bajger (left) and Martin Cichý (right). (PHOTO: Archive)
Martin Bajger (left) and Martin Cichý (right). (PHOTO: Archive)

On Saturday 22 July the 13th annual "Různobarevný festival" (Multicolored Festival) will take place in the Czech town of Trmice near Ústí nad Labem. News server has interviewed organizers Martin Bajger and Martin Cichý from the Romano Jasnica group, which convenes the annual event.

Q: This year the festival is in its 13th year. Is it very different now than the first one was?

Martin Bajger: [laughs] Very different. The first year we organized it literally at a crawl. We had no experience. The lineup of the bands was much different than it has been in recent years. I remember that at the first festival half of the bands were Czech, non-Romani. A local rock band from Ústí, "Sníh na schodišti" (Snow on the Staircase) played that first year...

Martin Cichý: [laughs]... and during the second or third year we had a heavy metal band. That was something. For many Romani people it was their first encounter with heavy metal music, they just sat and looked at the band, nobody danced [laughs]. During the first few years of the festival anybody could play, punk bands too. Gradually the festival began to focus on multiethnic music. This year, for example, we don't have any Czech bands, but we do have a Cuban band who will certainly get everybody dancing with their Latin American rhythms.

Q: Isn't it a bit of a shame that no Czech bands will perform at the festival this year?

Martin Bajger: Naturally that would be good. This year we set our sights high, we wanted to have Michal David perform because we know he is very popular among both non-Romani and Romani visitors. Unfortunately he won't be coming, he has other obligations. However, we will be looking for a performer of that same type for next year, maybe we will get Michal David in a few years.

Martin Cichý: We would also like to have a band from Germany, ideally from the Saxony border area, one that could attract their fans to come here. The proximity of Germany has a big potential, I think, it would be super if our German neighbors began to visit our festival.

Q: Let's go back to the beginnings of the festival... How has this little, local festival become one of the most famous Romani festivals in the Czech Republic?

Martin Bajger: Maybe because it amuses us. We are doing it for ourselves, for the local community. I think this festival gives Romani people the very best advertising, it gives us a good name.

Martin Cichý: Certainly it's also because we have managed to get support for it, sponsors and institutions. Sponsors have turned up, frequently local firms who have begun to kindly support the festival. I think the town of Trmice is glad that this kind of event is held here, the town leadership opens the festival standing side by side with us on the stage, they are our fans. The festival is also supported by the nearby city of Ústí nad Labem, which ultimately is logical, because a significant part of the visitors to our festival come from there.

Q: Good, and what about the development of the festival from one where metal and punk bands play to a multi-ethnic one?

Martin Bajger: That first year it was not yet called the "Různobarevný festival", but it was a festival against racism and xenophobia. The non-Romani bands played there precisely because of that. They were anti-racist, their performance was against racism and at the same time they were playing for a Romani audience and supporting our Romani organization. We remain grateful to them for that. Gradually, however, we changed the lineup of the bands according to the tastes of our audience. Romani people in Trmice liked listening to an anti-racist punk band, but they didn't really know how to have a good time dancing during that concert.

Martin Cichý: In the beginning it was just regional bands performing at our festival. They were from the area around Ústí, maybe Teplice, let's say. When the festival began to succeed, we started being able to book performances by bands from places further away, from all over the Czech Republic, or from Slovakia. Next year we are planning to invite an internationally famous, recognized band, but for the time being I am keeping that a surprise.

Q: An important component of the festival is the performances by Romani dance ensembles. Has that been part of it from the beginning?

Martin Bajger: Yes. The dancers performed at the very first one. Each year there is more and more interest among the dance ensembles in our festival.

Martin Cichý: I think the dance performances are actually a very important component of the festival. Most of the ensembles are youth ones. That gives our festival a strong family-oriented element. Parents come to watch their children's dance performances. For Romani people, dance always goes with music, it doesn't work to separate them from each other.

Q: This year's festival is right around the corner. You must have your hands full of organizational work... What would you like to tempt visitors to come see?

Martin Bajger: As they certainly know from the posters, the main star this year will be the Czech/Slovak/Romani rapper Rytmus. His concert will really be worth it. Classic Romani bands are also coming like Gipsy Čáve from Slovakia, or Petr Gujda and Martin Fečo. However, there will be many more bands, anybody and everybody will be able to find something to their taste there.

Martin Cichý: Besides bands there will also be dance ensembles from all over the country. I would also like to emphasize that our festival is not just about dance and music, but about meeting people, a pleasant time spent together with kind people. We sincerely invite you all to come see us in Trmice.

Miroslav Brož, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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