For almost four decades the city of Baghdad has been filled with war and fighting- void of music and the happiness it brings. However, on August 16th, over 1,000 Iraqis attended the Summer Festival, marking a new age for the state of stability in Iraq. Brightly covered stages filled basketball courts decked out in red, white, and yellow neon lights creating a makeshift club for the evening. The Summer Festival was the first event of its kind, bringing electronic music to the people who need it most.
In a country where public spaces remain conservative, the crowd was mostly male. Nonetheless, according to The Jakarta Post, a few young women notably attended the Summer Festival. Layan, a 19-year-old woman who joined in was overjoyed. “I hear a lot of people say that we’re influenced by the West. Fine, there’s no difference to me — the important thing is I don’t have to listen to this music at home in secret anymore.” Attendee’s heard the DJs play a mix of popular Iraqi hits and western music, showing our musical influence worldwide.
Baghdad has lived in a state of constant stress and fear for far too long. Their war against Iran began in the 1980s and led to the US-led invasion to take out Saddam Hussein in 2003. After sectarian rivalry ended, it was the onslaught of the Islamic State, which was only defeated territorially in late 2017. Now the city is in a period of regrowth, taking down blast walls and checkpoints across the capital. It’s too soon to say whether more music events will take place in Iraq soon, but we can only hope!
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