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Festival "Learn to Swim": the first wave of Russian alternative rock

We offer you to get acquainted with this bright phenomenon in the musical life of Russia in more detail.

History of extreme movement against the current

"Learn to Swim" - this is the name given to the Russian youth movement of the second half 90s. It was formed around extreme music groups that opposed illegal substances. They were also opponents of social conformity and were supporters of a healthy lifestyle. The outstanding festival has only a few years of its history. However, this time was enough for him to go down in history. Its significance is measured not by years, but by achievements, and great ones at that. We offer you to get acquainted with this bright phenomenon in the musical life of Russia in more detail.

Where did it all begin? Prerequisites

Advertising poster "Learn to Swim"
Advertising poster "Learn to Swim"

The history of the festival began with the radio program of the same name Alexandra F. Sklyara: it was dedicated to extreme and radical trends in world rock music, and got its name from the composition of the same name "Center". In the early stages, the program covered rock music in general, and only later its subject matter narrowed down to alternative. For the first time the program was aired on the radio "MAXIMUM" in 1991. She played tracks of both Russian alternative bands and foreign ones, mainly from the countries of the former USSR. The soloist of "Va-Bank" became its leader thanks to a well-known journalist Artemy Troitsky.

Alas, in 1998 transmission was closed. This was facilitated by the dismissal of director Mikhail Kozyrev, which influenced the format "Maximum" generally. Together with "Learn to Swim" many other programs were closed. Subsequently, the brainchild of Sklyar will resume its activities: it will happen at the end of the 90s, on the waves "Station 106.8".

Organization of the festival

Alexander F. Sklyar
Alexander F. Sklyar

The idea to organize a whole festival dedicated to the popular movement arose back in 1994. What is most interesting is that the vocalist became the ideological figure of this large-scale event. Rollins Band Henry Rollins! He was the founder of the movement "Straight Edge" on Russian territory. Rollins did not drink, did not smoke, and even more so did not indulge in illegal substances. He himself spoke of it this way:

“This is just a way of life, not its goal…”

Let's start with the name "Learn to Swim" was chosen randomly. It all started with a show that aired on "MAXIMUM" - that is, on radio waves. And in order to distinguish good music from bad, listeners had to "learn to swim" on these waves. This is such an interesting message that was put into the project from the very beginning. And we can say that Sklyar took on the role of a swimming instructor. And the instructor has students, right? In the case of Sklyar, his students were listeners. And in the summer of 1994, he offered to hold a meeting with them: to talk, to discuss interesting topics related to the program. The meeting went well, on the lawn near CHA.

During the conversation, someone asked: “Is it true that Henry Rollins is coming to us in September?!” Everyone knew that he played extreme rock, but were amazed that at the same time Rollins leads a healthy lifestyle! He gave an interview on Sklyar's radio program and eventually inspired the latter to organize a large-scale concert.

Message and influence

Alexander F. Sklyar
Alexander F. Sklyar

As noted above, the main ideas of the festival were a healthy lifestyle, dislike for social conformism and extremeness exclusively in music. All guests were supporters of the international movement Stop the Madness, which translates as "Stop the Madness". The first festival was held at the end of November 1995. Both metropolitan groups and guests from other cities performed at the concert. Among the participants were: Va-Bank, Crocodile TX, IFK, Tequilajazzz, Zdob și Zdub. Everyone had extremely positive emotions from the event, and, most importantly, it paid off: soon a large number of young people were seriously carried away by the popular movement.

The collection came out soon. “Learn to Swim. First lesson", which included Rollins' advice on a healthy lifestyle.

Pushing boundaries, relevance today

Alexander F. Sklyar
Alexander F. Sklyar

Soon the festival expanded its borders to the international level: "Learn to Swim" was held in two capitals of Russia, and the American group became its guests "Rage Against The Machine"! During the three days of the festival, "Jazzlobster" with Tutta Larsen on vocals, St. Petersburg bands "Bricks" and "Chimera", Moscow punks "Four cockroaches", now known as simply"Cockroaches", and many other groups. The second festival brought a new compilation, this time with a message from Max Cavalera from the Brazilian band Sepultura. Soon after the summer trips to Estonia, the slogans of the movement were replenished: “Active recreation and extreme sports are the norm!”.

Last one for today “Learn to Swim. Fifth lesson", took place in May 2001 years in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The concerts were also accompanied by interesting guests and bright emotions of the audience! Despite the fact that the festival existed for a relatively short time, the significance of this musical event cannot be denied. For his success in the development of the movement, Sklyar even entered the top 50 people who influenced the popular culture of the 90s according to the magazine "OM".

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