Sunday, 18 October 2020

Police Prevent Gathering of Young People Outside HNK in Zagreb

ZAGREB, October 18, 2020 - In the night from Saturday to Sunday around 20 police officers were patrolling the area around the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb to prevent a mass gathering of young people who used to gather there in the past five months.

The latest epidemiological measures, defined by the national coronavirus crisis team, went into force on Saturday, and they envisage, due to an increase in new infections in the capital city and the rest of the country, control of informal gatherings in public areas, as well as the wearing of masks outdoors where physical distancing is not possible.

The HNK square was almost entirely empty at 1 a.m. on Sunday after in the past five months several hundred or even up to a thousand young people used to gather there in the evening every weekend and sometimes on workdays.

Police last night were sending away young men and girls who as in previous months started arriving at the HNK square around midnight.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

PHOTOS: Before & After - How HNK Afterhours Lost Its Cool

ZAGREB October 13, 2020 – Since early June 2020, the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb has served as a nightly meeting point for the city's youths. In these pictures and video we see the incredible youth phenomenon as it once was and also how HNK afterhours lost its cool

Built in 1895, the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb (HNK Zagreb) is one of the finest pieces of architecture in a city not short on fine Austro-Hungarian buildings. Sitting in the middle of Republic of Croatia Square, it is the focal point of Lower Town. A multi-purpose space, it has world-class opera and ballet companies in-house.

image (1).jpg© David Bakarić

This week, several media outlets have reported on the gathering of youths outside the theatre, especially on weekend nights. While an interesting read, including the thoughts of a sociologist, these stories are a bit out of date. Because the truth is, the party is over - HNK afterhours lost its cool many weeks ago.


image (4).jpg
© Marc Rowlands

In early June, when the three-month Coronavirus lockdown finally ended, HNK Zagreb became the de facto meeting point for Zagreb youth. It all happened rather spontaneously. There were no advertisements. Word spread from peer-to-peer and young people from as far away as Rijeka, Ivanic-grad and Zabok made the journey to take part in the youth culture phenomenon.

image (2).jpg© David Bakarić

image (7).jpg© Marc Rowlands

It was a joyful scene - thousands of people from every youth tribe imaginable; punk and metal fans, sports students, classical musicians, football fans, young patriots, LGBT teens, devout Christians and kids who would usually go to the cajke (folk music) club sat side-by-side. It was good-natured. Everyone was glad to be out of the house and be able to meet their peers. Everyone got along.

image (11).jpg© David Bakarić

image (6).jpg© David Bakarić

image5.jpeg© David Bakarić

image3.jpeg© David Bakarić

Impromptu theatre performances and music concerts took place. Soundsystems were set up. There was laughter, music, dancing and all round good cheer.

image (8).jpg© David Bakarić

image (10).jpg© David Bakarić

'We are extremely happy and positive that our theatre has been recognized as a place of gathering and sharing positive vibrations between generations,' an official from the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb told this journalist when approached to comment on HNK afterhours. 'Ever since 2014, our hope was to create a warm and welcoming feeling here for everybody, for all age groups and different audiences; to make theatre alive outside the building walls.'

image9.jpegResponsible young partygoers cleaned up after themselves in early June. Those cool kids have long since disappeared from HNK afterhours © David Bakarić



HNK afterhours lost its cool many weeks ago. Becoming an expected rather than a spontaneous gathering was perhaps its death knell. That, and the fact that although everyone knew hundreds were gathering there, no provisions were made for these socialising young people. With no other option on Republic of Croatia Square, the bushes and gardens around the theatre became their toilets.




It was instantly noticeable when HNK afterhours lost its cool - all of the cool kids just stopped coming. What was once a representation of all the city's youth tribes dwindled to a hardcore few hundred of late-night drinkers with nothing better to do and no place else to go. The theatre and most of the music stopped.




Then the violence, graffiti and vandalism began. The excessive drinking was one major sign of youth insecurity – people not entirely comfortable with themselves within large groups got drunk to ease their discomfort. Then, they threw up in the bushes. But the violence and graffiti were greater signs of insecurity and immaturity.




Like dogs urinating on street corners to mark their territory, mindless graffiti 'tags' appeared all over the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb – its steps, its windows, its antique doors. In an effort to leave a permanent mark, the insignificant few seemed determined to destroy everything that had once been joyful and good-natured about this gathering.

Zagreb police intervene when one drunken male started to physically abuse some of his peers. Present at the scene, this journalist commented to a friend that the police had acted bravely. The peer commented that the police had looked scared. They were surrounded by hundreds of spectators to the violence.

You can now guarantee there will be some violence outside the theatre on every weekend night. Zagreb police, who have shown remarkable patience and restraint throughout the whole phenomenon, sit far from the crowd and let the youngsters party. However, Zagreb Police Administration have said that from May 1 to September 30, the police intervened around the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb about 50 times, based on allegations of possible disturbance of public order and peace. In an effort to perhaps try and understand the frustrations of youths at this time, they have filed misdemeanor charges against only six people. This, despite a small, insecure and immature male section of the crowds flexing their muscles against smaller peers – or the police themselves – on a nightly basis. A small cabal of latecomers are ruining the reputation of a youth culture movement which deserves to be much better remembered.

121554186_337487367535021_1901937487742305067_n.jpg121528825_822783415210126_2612493705426715970_n.jpgA young man shows the marks around both eyes that he received in an unprovoked attack at HNK afterhours on the weekend of 9 October 2020

When you're young, it can be difficult to hear that the party is over. After you've had such a good time, you don't want to go home. You want the good times to last forever. But, this party is well and truly finished. HNK afterhours lost its cool many, many weeks ago. It is a rather sad remnant of something that was beautiful while it lasted. But, now it is time for the party to move elsewhere or for the attendees to go home. This beautiful building, its grounds and surrounding residents have played host for long enough. They each deserve a break.

The use of uncredited photographs in this article was granted on condition that the submitting photographers remain anonymous

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Sunday, 11 October 2020

Mass Parties Outside Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb in Time of Corona

ZAGREB, October 11, 2020 - The Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in Zagreb has recently become a popular place for outdoor gatherings, where people gather every weekend, especially after midnight, when many bars close due to coronavirus measures.

Mass outdoor parties have been taking place in Republic of Croatia Square where the HNK building stands since May, when epidemiological measures were relaxed, and about 500 people gathered there last weekend as well.

Even after midnight when, according to epidemiological measures, all social life and entertainment in the city should stop, young people gather in groups, drink alcohol and listen to different genres of music.

Next to one of several speakers is 19-year-old Antonio, and asked why he is there, he told Hina that he currently has nowhere else to be.


HNK and social gathering

Sociologist Dino Vukusic from the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences commented on the diversity of young people gathering in front of the HNK building.

According to him, the HNK is not a new place of gathering, but this particular HNK was created during the pandemic. He thinks it is interesting that these spontaneous gatherings still persist.

There are many different people there now -- some belong to subcultures that have gathered outside the HNK before, and there also those who will, once night clubs reopen, go to night clubs, Vukusic said, adding that they are a very heterogeneous group of people.

The music and the style of the HNK gatherings are driven by the hedonism of young people and they are a cry for spending free time in a hedonistic way at a time like this, he said.


Residents request protection

The noise, mess and urinating that take place on green areas around the HNK have been disturbing the residents of Republic of Croatia Square, and they are calling for some protection despite the fact that there are only about ten of them.

One of the residents, Melita Kovacevic, who often cannot fall asleep because of the noise, told Hina that in the last few months, she and her neighbours had been reporting everything to the police.

Zagreb police told Hina that from May 1 to September 30, they intervened about 50 times around the HNK following reports of possible disturbing of the peace. However, they have filed misdemeanor charges against only six people.

The Cistoca city sanitation company told Hina that their employees had been intensively cleaning the HNK location and they had asked those gathering there to use bins to dispose of their litter, although there are just a few smaller bins around the square.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Matej Meštrović Presents His Interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons at HNK

Matej Meštrović will present his own interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on Sunday, October 15 at the Croatian National Theater Zagreb.