Urban Development

September 5, 2006 at 11:02 am 6 comments

Serbia is, once again, divided into two camps. Two big music festivals that Serbia hosts seem to be attracting polary opposed crowds. The Exit Festival is held in Novi Sad and features latest & greatest of popular rock and electronic music. A good chunk of people who attend this festival think of themselves as urban, sophisticated, fashionable and whatnot. Festival of brass bands (think drunk people without teeth, not your high-school marching band) in Guča hosts Serbian best traditional (folklore) trumpet players and is considered, by the Exit crowd, to be rural. Did I mention that calling somebody a villager (seljak) is an insult in Serbia?

Of course, this urban and rural classification is absolutely arbitrary, but there has nevertheless been a lot of animosity between the two. Exit is accused of attracting people who lack in sobriety, cash strapped tourists and generally unruly characters. On the other hand, Guča is accused of attracting people who lack in sobriety, cash strapped tourists and generally unruly characters.

The conflict culminated when the Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Koštunica, visited Guča this year, but not Exit. Everybody seems to mind it because Guča is “rural” (people getting drunk silly, swimming in mud and ornamenting musicians with Euros), and our PM is promoting it over an “urban” thing. Like I mentioned before, that’s bullshit that I won’t even attempt to argue against (a much better argument would be that the Exit Festival is, unlike Guča, politically active, and promotes groovy stuff like an end to human trafficking).

Still, I was amazed at the speech Koštunica, our master of populist muppetry and cliché, gave on Guča. He said that Guča is the heart of Serbia, which I would guess, makes Šabac its nostrils, while Subotica is an elbow. He also said that people who don’t understand Guča are not capable of understanding Serbia either, which does nicely explain the slight feeling of confusion I often have when I walk out of home.

Another interesting thing, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, Dodik, attended Guča with Koštunica. Koštunica returned the visit for a soccer match in Republika Srpska. What’s that supposed to mean?


Entry filed under: Music, Politics, Serbia.

Sex Sells aSSing around

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eric  |  September 6, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    There was an effort this past summer to “bridge” the urban and folk crowds with the Etno festival in Novi Sad. The program was a combination of authentic folk types with artsy folk-influenced types, pretty interesting. It seems not to have succeeded so well, in part because of organizational problems and in part because there were heavy rainstorms every day of the festival. But the gesture captures something real.

  • 2. Anonymous  |  September 6, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    I see the difference as Guca festival being conceived and initiated within Serbia and by Serbs based on traditional love and happenings of trumpet music in that part of Serbia, versus a foreign initiated festival with a political agenda behind it – helped by those same foreign countries which maimed Serbian children.

    From my understanding, Guca was commenced by a Serb man and began a kind of duel between Serbian-style and Roma-style playings – with Serbian tending being softer and more melodious, and Roma being louder, brasher, wilder, and very energetic. The Roma came to be more popular, especially among the young. Though some people, non-Serbs even do have beefs with this, and have complained, after seeing Boban Markovic’s concerts in America.

    Those same people (American, non-Balkans who are into Balkan and Eastern European music – studying/playing) and other visitors wonder if Guca may have become too popular for its own good.

    I get the impression, that due to the demonization of Serbs, having Roma’s in the forefront (in films and music) is one way to get around the constant bashing of Serbs and accusations and dissections about about political connotations in Serbian films, art, literature, every sentence they speak, etc. unless it is anti-Serb and self-blaming.

  • 3. bganon  |  September 7, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Yep Guca seems to be the hot topic in the Serbian blogosphere at the moment.

    You know my answer to this rural / urban divide is pretty simple. Dont join either gang and make your own mind up. Good post.

    Kostunica and Dodik – isnt that something to do with the elections in Bosnia? You got to hand it to Kostunica he sure knows how to mobilise the Bosniaks into supporting more hard line parties. Not that I’m expecting anything different amyway.

  • 4. DarkoV  |  September 12, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    If your picture correctly reflects the musical talent of the Guca festival, then that’s the one for me. You can get your rock ‘n roll, punk, electronica b.s. anywehre in the world. But a guy who can play a trumpet with his eye??!!? Well, that’s worth the price of admission. Musicians with bad teeth also interest me as it’s obvious that their personal health comes second to the music. And isn’t that what art is about? Sacrificing your dentistry of tomorrow for some goood sounds today.
    Naprijed!!! U svemu smijere!

  • 5. Drago M.  |  September 14, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    As a Canadian Serb I would love to go to the Guca festival. I’ve been to both Novi Sad and Guceva and the latter appeals to me much more. I was in Serbia during the NEXT this year but didn’t want to go. I’ve seen Morissey and Billy Idol before in America. If I was there during Guca I would go for sure. To me it means more as a foreign Serb. BTW, you can call me a Seljak any time. I love the village I stay in when I come to Serbia from the busy, road-raged city I live in here in Canada.

  • 6. Γιώργος  |  September 14, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    very nice site, …slivovitsa!

    regards from greece
    george tsinekidis


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