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Want to go to a rave at Chernobyl? It’s happening.

The world’s worst nuclear accident began at 1:23 am on April 26, 1966. A sudden power surge caused Reactor #4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine to melt down. The 450-ton roof collapse and lethal radiation–400 times worse than the combined fallout of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki–was spread over hundreds of square kilometres.

The World Health Organization says that 4,000 people died prematurely as a result and many, many more people continue to suffer from various forms of radiation-related cancer. The area will be uninhabitable for at least 24,000 years.

There’s only one solution. Let’s dance.

The Chernobyl region has become something of a tourist attraction. You can take a tour of “The Zone,” a 1,000 square mile area of contamination. If you do, make sure you stop at the gift shop/snack bar for everything from a t-shirt and gas mask to a hot dog and ice cream. Last year, there were around 20,000 visitors. There’s even been a mini-boom in budget hotels being built in the area to accommodate the crowds.

The Soviets and then the Ukrainians have been trying to clean up the site for the last thirty years. Back in May, officials say that the melted down reactor has been deemed safe–yeah, sure–and that the place should be further opened to tourists.

One of the attractions is called Artefact, a “contemporary art and media object” that combines everything from digital sculptures and activism to music and VJing. Yes, this includes holding a rave. But don’t worry. If the Geiger counters stay below 36, you’ll be fine. Over 40 and it’s time to leave.

From The Guardian:

Artefact starts, an electro-infused “digital sculpture” of melding lights and screens animated with swirling colours and writhing human forms. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, the Russian film from 1979 that seemed to predict the disaster, is referenced on LED screens. The military sway their hips to the beat. We dance in the cold, while watching lights bounce off the living rooms and kitchens of the huge Soviet blocks that surround us. The remains of clothes, I’m told, still hang in the wardrobes; cutlery is still in the cupboards; the beds are still made.

The story in The Guardian concludes this way: “On the drive home, a Russian friend who has spotted a photo of the Sarcophagus on my Instagram feed messages me. ‘That thing killed my grandmother,’ she says. ‘And now it’s a disco…’

Time for a little disaster music tourism?



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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