Miesto Sodas (City Garden)
Justė: Miesto Sodas always stirs a little rebel in me.
This is precisely where alternative youth subcultures would gather every Friday after lessons in 2003–2004, which was where, us, "banglai" (youth subculture in Lithuania) from Šančiai wanted to be. I think that back then, we did not have any high ideals or aspirations. Neither we read novels by Ann Radcliffe nor we were seriously interested in cultural ideologies: we were about fifteen. And simply as any other teenager, we wanted freedom and felt like being different. Of course we looked different as well: tangled hair (that our Russian language teacher so creatively called “an explosion in the pasta factory”), earrings in the weirdest places (our parents were the greatest liberals!) baggy clothes, inscribed with “Gothic” HIM lyrics, massive, colourful scarves (we had to pay a visit to school's social worker, because our “scarves were distracting other students”. “Girls with miniskirts probably do not distract anybody”, we thought to ourselves ironically back them. Rave pants, leather jackets, "inkariukai" (a Lithuanian variety of converse sneakers), skate shoes, military boots and so on. We would look for all those goodies in thrift shops around the station.
It was not easy for us at school. There were only a couple of us like this. Well, as they say: pick on the different kid. On the other hand, the school protected us when outside forces intervened. I remember overwhelming support when our mini performance Marionetės (Puppets, I think that was the name) received such a negative reaction. A song by Marilyn Manson, running mascara and puppet-like behaviour. It was interrupted in the middle in the show that took place in Children and Student's Leisure Palace. Because we were shocking. There was even an article about “the freedom of alternative youth in Kaunas [being] suppressed”. Journalists of Laikinoji Sostinė noticed us, when we were sadly descending the stairs of Vytautas Hill.
But basically, back then, our school and district lacked their own community. And we found it in the "mytai" (as we called those meetings) in Miesto Sodas. I would not recognize many people (mostly girls) from those times. I remember only a few faces, some names, but these were also mostly pseudonyms, rather than the real names. It was weird that we did not talk about ourselves. At least I did not know who those people were, what were their plans. We were mostly connected by the place and idea of exclusiveness, aspiration for a unique community. (Even though such community was probably alive somewhere online, I think there was a website mur.lt. I did not have a computer back then, so I did not know much about it. Or maybe I don't simply remember). It was a weird moment, when a few years ago, I saw a guy from one of those meetings playing cello in the Musical Theatre. It was weird, because his nick back then was Lunatikas (!) (Lunatic) and here I saw him wearing a costume, serious, playing at the orchestra during the performance.
Even though I don't remember specific people from those times, the sense of community remains very strong. I guess this was the most important thing: being together. We were braver and stronger as a team. We would compare the colours of our shoes, and would sit, rebellious and cheeky on the monuments of R. Kalanta and Vytautas and when we were freezing, we used to go to Arbatinė (Tea Room), where only one or two of us with spare coins could buy some tea. We annoyed the waiters with our noise, and we did not bring any profit.
There is this thought that has recently got into my mind that the atmosphere of Miesto Sodas is inexplicably charged with rebelliousness. This is where the hippie youth of Kaunas would gather during the Soviet times and this was exactly where Romas Kalanta announced to the world about himself by bursting in flames. We did not know much about these things or knew very little, but I think all those things were related. Maybe we were not the ones choosing it, but Miesto Sodas itself was calling us?
In any case, I think that this place has been always radiating the energy of freedom: just go there, and you will feel it yourself”. (2014)