«Celts 1 Ravers 0»
The Russian Celtic Association burst into life last Friday in a late night of Celtic passion, heartfelt music and throbbing techno. Various groups came together at Pilot nightclub to launch the society and, in the words of the first secretary at the Irish Embassy, "to keep Irish and Celtic culture alive".
Pilot nightclub wasn't perhaps the ideal choice. The Celts were a warrior race who could put the fear of God into their enemies with their magnificent physique, burnished hair and battle prowess. Sadly Pilot makes do with an odd-job crew of military garbed neanderthal bouncers wielding Kalashnikovs.
Entry was half-price to anyone in kilts but the only taker seemed to be the lone bagpiper who started the show. Flanked on the stage by two large shamrocks, ginger beard bristling around the instrument, he remained impassive as a woman from the crowd jumped on the stage and danced a reel in front of him.
Telenn Gwad (or
Bleeding Harp), led by Oleg Boiko and with a flautist
who wouldn't have looked out of place in The Chieftains, followed playing a
gentle set of Breton music. Perfect for a winter night in a snug Irish pub, it
disappeared into the vast club.
Boiko himself admitted that it wasn't celebratory music but more for a lonely man and his dreams.
The stars of the evening were Slua Si (or Host of Sids) and their singer Yuri Andreichuk. A slight figure in a crumpled suit with a gravel-throated voice he tore into a selection of traditional and Pogues classics bringing a note of passion much needed on the night Pockets of badly improvised Irish dancing broke out which managed to draw in the odd bemused crowd member. Despite one song in which Andreichuk seemed to sing faster than humanly possible and a lyric to one song which went "a rare bog, a rattling bog, a bog down in the valley oh" much of the crowd resisted the call to dance.
A linguist who speaks Gaelic, Andreichuk, with Mikhail Gladkov of Rakurs Radio, is one of the leading lights behind the association. Speaking afterwards he said they intended to unite different circles of students studying different aspects of Celtic culture. They hope in co-ordination with the St. Andrew's Society and the Irish Embassy to organise exhibitions, films, lectures and other such musical events.
As the bands finished the DJ's immediately reverted to heart-thumpingly loud techno and rave and any self-respecting Celt retreated to the backroom of the club. This provided an opportunity to hear an impromptu singalong of Celtic songs as a small group, including Andreichuk, gathered around a guitar. Towards the end of the night. "The Rising of the Moon" rang out in continuing battle with the techno thundering in from outside on the dancefloor and a lone voice sang the Welsh national anthem in solitary defiance at the back.
Kevin O'Flynn. («Moskow News» No.11, March 21-27, 1996)