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Amateurs take over the arts factory

Aug 22, 2007
By Joel Alas

Amateurs take over the arts factory
OUR PARTY: Risto Piide and Hannes Mets started the Diletantide Avangard parties to showcase their own band. The parties are now known as some of the best underground culture events in Tallinn.
TALLINN - Those who follow the Tallinn party scene know there's one event that shouldn't be missed 's Diletantide Avangard. No matter where it is held, this roving party attracts a crowd of the city's most dedicated bohemians and indie rockers. The music can be amazing or atrocious 's there's simply no guarantee what you're going to get. But regardless of what's on stage, the event always rages until the early morning and beyond. Diletant means "amateur" in Estonian, while avangard means the same thing it does everywhere else in the world (though spelled differently).

By name, it's an event for fresh artists who like to push boundaries. The event is the brainchild of Risto Piibe, a 21- year-old musician who started the parties as a way of giving his own band somewhere to play 's an oftheard tale in the music industry. "The idea was to give young bands a chance to perform along with some more experienced bands. At first it was just for indie music, now we have all kinds 's electronic, punk, rock, lots of different styles," says Piide. "And if you make something, then you want to play there as well. Our band has always played at every event, although we change the name sometimes." It has been held in several locations, such as the Kinomaja movie theater and Von Krahl bar. But on Aug. 24 it will return to its original location, an arts factory known as Polymer Kultuuritehas.

Hidden away on a side street in Kristiine (a residential suburb on the fringes of the town center), Polymer is even more of an institution than Diletantide Avangard. It was once a toy factory that produced robots during the Soviet era. After the factory went bankrupt in 1998, a group of artists moved in to occupy the space. It now serves as a multilevel studio for dozens of artists, including sculptors, painters and musicians. The grungy factory feel of the building only ads to the underground ambience of the place. The only downside to Polymer is its exclusivity. For most of the year it is a closed arts space, but on special occasions it opens its doors for events such as Diletantide Avangard. This will be the first DA event for over a year.

The party took a hiatus when Piide and his co-coordinator Hannes Mets traveled to England for a working holiday. They were sorely missed. "People were always asking us, 'When are you coming back? We miss Diletantide Avangard,'" Mets said. The first such event was held at Polymer in December 2004. Piide bought a pile of secondhand blankets to keep spectators warm inside the frigid building. The party was once almost hijacked when Piide teamed up with another organizer who then tried to cut him out of the event. Unwilling to give up the name without a fight, Piide organized a rival party on the same evening, calling on loyal fans and bands to attend the original and best Diletantide Avangard. It worked, but nearly killed off Piide's desire to keep the event alive.

Thankfully he has continued, and on Aug. 24 he will present his ninth such party, featuring an eclectic line-up of fast-rising acts. Emerging bands such as Opium Flirt, Speedking and Maikameikers will take to the stage as part of a massive schedule that begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 4 a.m. On the DJ list are people better known as rock musicians than turntablists 's Kati from Stella, Valter from Shelton San and Tambert from Zahir.

Diletantide Avangard Underground indie rock partyAug. 24, 7 p.m. - 4 a.m. Polymer Kultuurihas, Kristiine, Tallinnwww.kultuurihas.ee
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