Travelbook: Ostrava, Czech Republic

KALTBLUT had the pleasure of venturing into the remarkable industrial city of Ostrava, Czech Republic and its bordering landscapes for the festival, Beats for Love this past weekend. Contributors Aysha Hussain and Nolan Keith Parker share their experiences.

In Architectural Awe
Words: Nolan Keith Parker

Overbearing, brutal, and industrial aren’t adjectives one would think to describe the grounds of two music festivals: one is centred around love and electronic music and the other is one of the biggest multi-genre festivals the Eastern Bloc has to offer. Well think again party people, both Beats for Love and Colours of Ostrava are situated firmly in the centre of a former steel and iron works in Ostrava, Czech Republic and the result is something wholly unique.

Both festivals take over the massive complex every year, the energy of both entities feed off each other in such a way that both the festivals and the steelworks have been gaining acclaim for over a decade now. When first entering the festival grounds you are immediately taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the steel structures around you: from the two-story-high walkways that lead from the mouth of one industrial beast to another, to the towers that used to emit plumes of smoke and flame. What is at first a dizzying maze soon becomes a beloved backdrop to some of the best international musical acts central Europe has ever seen.

The imposing structures of the former mill and works dominate the Ostravian skyline and immediately conjure images of the Soviet era industrial boom: smoke and flame everywhere, muscled steelworkers in white tank-tops, and a sense of controlled chaos. The funny thing is that all of those scenarios are still present when attending Beats for Love in 2018. The festival was full of merrymakers running from the brutalist drum & bass stage to the sandy pit of the jungle stage. The chaos was a happy one though, every single person had a massive grin on their face and was dancing and shimmying as they made their way through a crowd of people doing the exact same thing. The light shows of the “Beats for Love” (main) stage didn’t stop at gigantic LED screens and light design, no no, the stage pulled out a stunning laser show that threw patterns and designs all over the rusted out shells of industrial silos and mills, drawing those from around the festival to the city-block-sized dance pit.

The stages themselves were tucked in every nook and cranny of the iron and steel works complex, you would just be getting out of earshot of the techno tent when the trance stage would come wheeling into view just through a galvanized archway of rusted steel. When getting purposefully lost while walking around the festival you’ll also inevitably find the carnival corner, a zone that boasts bumper cars and half a dozen of your favourite rides, a time warp that will take you back to the most joyous moments of your childhood summers.

The attraction to the steel and iron works doesn’t stop when festival season is over, the complex is accessible year-round in several different capacities: a mill tour is available and comes highly recommended if you’re interested in industrial/Soviet/architectural histories, an auditorium inside a former silo that plays host to concerts and lectures and a cafe on top of the highest point of the factory that boasts the finest view Ostrava has on offer.

Beats for Love: Emerging into its Own
Words: Aysha Hussain

In a world of heightened expectations and bought ‘experiences’, what can we expect from the humble music festival? The post social media era where posting our daily activities is now a ubiquitous part of our lives (for better, worse or neither), our shared experiences and extensive travel become the norm. A plethora of international music festivals are pushing harder than ever before to stand out as online presence and perception dominate the game.

The expansion of our cyberworlds has brought the physical world closer together than ever before with cities all over vying for a spotlight on the international music scene. Cue electronic festival Beats 4 Love. Hosted by the region of Moravian-Silesian, KALTBLUT had the privilege of experiencing not only the festival and what Ostrava had to offer, but the pleasure of exploring further afield with a tantalising itinerary which included hikes to Pustevny, chair lifts and scooting down Beskydy Mountains, and visiting Hukvaldy Castle.

An impressive international lineup covering a wide spectrum in the dance/electro vein (Alan Walker, Youngr, Galantis et al), the sixth instalment of Beats 4 Love continues to see an impressive growth from its inception. Of course, music festival features abound and apply, a variant of the usual drugs and drinks fuelled, detritus strewn revelry. Line up aside, what really sets it apart is the intense architectural industrial space as Beats 4 Love nestles in the old ironworks of Lower Vitkovice. Spectacularly imposing, you are in continual awe as the music pounds and the lights pulsate around you.

An endless stream of sponsors is standard (the music must find money for a way to go on!). Cynicism aside, this is no bad thing, and certainly an insight to the latest trends. From uploading your image on to your coffee to having one’s arm bathed in glittering gold whilst the other is used for a vaping exercise, you’ll certainly have your hands full should you choose to take a break from the music.

As KALTBLUT leaves for the night, the merriment continues with the beats from the festival permeating and oscillating throughout Ostrava as you walk away.

Beats for Love

All photos: Colette Pomerleau