She sucked in the sweaty air; her eyes streaming with beer, poppers and muddy water. She sneezed a huge-super-sonic-mind-blowing-ecstatic sneeze…the walls shook, people hit the floor and ceiling, the foundations bounced and a thousand party lovers waved their arms and in unison grinned…and this was supposed to be Harfa taking a break.
Europe, once the manufacturing base of the world has been forced by the globalising economy to slowly ease out the producing game. Modernisation equals a service economy; in today’s Europe capitalism gets to ask all the questions? Why pay Czechs, Germans or Hungarians high wages to build things when there are a billion+ Chinese who can do it for a tenth of the cost. Harfa factory hall, like her fellow factories across the continent, has been forced into taking a break from manufacturing. However, Harfa, who lives in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Prague, Czech Republic, is an extremely clever factory, she reads up on many economic theories and consequently she is sure that Europe won’t remain post-industrial forever…
She views modernity as a dumb beast, a beast who greedily slurps up oil blissfully ignoring the fact that human kind will soon be passing the world-wide peak of oil production. In the near future, with smaller oil supplies wanted by more people, it’s going to get very expensive to move manufactured goods around the world; petrol is going to be the exclusive resource of the rich and powerful. The invisible rule of economic efficiency will mean that manufactured goods made for European consumption will not be made in the factories of Asia, but in our continent once again… the old industrial heart of Europe will be awoken; their break over, the factories will start to move in time to the heavy pounding of machinery. In the meantime, while the leaders of the world chase the last of the oil with guns and bombs, the factories are finding interesting recreational activities to entertain themselves on their break.
CASUALTIES ARE INEVITABLE, illustration by sinisterpenguin
Harfa along with many of her factory friends are enjoying a prolonged break from work. Some of her friends sold out however. They let themselves be converted into studio apartments for yuppies; they let in the sort of people who have extensive discussions about how the high ceilings ‘allow them to do wonderful things with curtains’. But that life wasn’t for Harfa. Harfa is a rock and roll star. She isn’t going to let herself slip in to midlife boredom, agonising over her choice of slippers. Far from it, she’s making the most of her break; since 2003 she has been hosting a wide range of cultural events: graffiti exhibitions celebrating the Czech Republic’s accession into the EU, extreme sports demonstrations and big-pounding-eyescreaming parties.
Gabba Gabba Whoop Whoop Gabba Gabba Whoop
However, like all the cool kids, she has a shameful past. Somewhere in-between her transition from factory-floor to party-heaven she became the original host of the bizarrely popular TV show Vyvolení, the Czech Big Brother. This meant weeks of vacant miserable people talking about their vacant miserable lives, captured for our ‘pleasure’ on camera. This low however is forgivable, everybody makes mistakes and since then Harfa has been working overtime to regain her lost credibility.
Harfa is now a 3000 capacity, T-shaped temple of fun. As I roll up to her doors on Friday night she is hosting a stupidly good party. Her belly is rammed full of stunned revellers, dancing away and completely off their tits. Tonight she is swarming with hundreds and hundreds of crusty girls and boys. They all jump around with mud splattered up their legs, flashing their offensively beautiful piercings and giving off a scent which suggests they are in medical need of a wash. It’s a beautiful sight.
THE RAVERS WENT IN TWO BY TWO, illustration by turtle george
The people partying inside Harfa are not just entertaining to watch however, they are also insightful, ‘if you think about it’ Honza screams at me, spraying spit everywhere like an over heating pressure cooker, ‘our bodies are like our factories, we need to provide them with the right kinds of input to get a positive output,’ there a pause, possibly caused by a hole in Honza’s brain, ‘it is important to never forget…’ he forgets but continues onwards and upwards nevertheless, ‘we really need to understand our bodies, and one of the ways we can realise the true potential of our bodies is through dancing.’
‘Dancing is not a worthless past time,’ Honza gabbas on, ‘it helps us understand ourselves and this can only be a good thing for us and humanity. So, while factories made consumer commodities we make social commodities. We discover answers on this factory floor,’ he stares at me ‘the answers are on this floor.’ And so, it appears, is a piece of Honza’s pituitary gland, it must have slipped out of his nose during a moment of deep contemplation, but as he is away dancing and very very happy so it seems rude to tell him.
Disco Biscuit Overload
A moment later a fresh hairy man bounds over the dance floor and crashes onto the bench next to me. We hug. We have a moment. It’s nice. ‘If you think about it, Bob grins, ‘we are in many ways like modern day workers for this factory, we come in here were move around in a repetitive fashion for hours at a time and then leave sweaty, tired and ready for bed.’
I have doubts about Bob’s analogy to begin with but I think of it later as the ravers slowly make their way back home, bleary eyed and desperately clutching their bottles of water. Now I can see some similarities between them and a factory workforce as they both appear unintentionally gang like in appearance to the outside world. The separation of ravers from ‘society’ is really noticeable at 11am sitting next to a freshly showered middle aged woman on the metro home. After the party everyone is tired beyond caring. It was a killer party though…
…and on the way home I begin to think about the future, when Russia and Venezuela hold the world ransom with their oil supplies and the factories of Europe are repaired, renovated and reignited. At this time Harfa will look back on her break with pride. Us humans sometimes get so tired out with work during the week, that we end up spending our breaks lying round the flat in our underwear, looking at internet porn and eating crisps. Its very hard to imagine Harfa doing this. Harfa is far too cool to let her break be so boring….