While the Istanbul heat was ever-present last weekend, I spend three days in a forest, enjoying the fresh shades of the trees and a refreshing breeze. But I was not alone! The forest turned into a small town of fifty thousand, all there to enjoy the fifth edition of BarisaRock (Rocking for Peace) festival – with free entry and normal prices for drinks and food a unique festival for Europe.
There was a special atmosphere at the festival. Not only could you see most people walking around with smiles on their faces all the time and partying until early morning. But chances were high that you encountered some form of protest for even cheaper beer, the right ‘to get drunk’, free toilets or even against techno-music at the festival.
Barisarock is organised by volunteers and has a budget of only 5000 euro. The idea is that enjoying music should be possible without sponsors and commercial interests. It is therefore not just a festival for music but also a political act: it started as a free alternative against the commercial Rock’n Coke Festival a weekend later with an entry-fee of seventy euro and high prices for food and drinks.
Another great thing of Barisarock is the free space available to anyone willing to perform or organise. Apart from funny protests there were serious debates and different types of gatherings at the festival, as well as exhibitions, forest-games and theatre all day long.
For me it was a revelation to experience such an event. I was one of the only foreigners present, and it was great to be part of such a huge Turkish musical gathering.
Also, I was quite amazed to see that people are still able to organise these free events. Festivals have since long been killed by commercial interests, but these people have been able to pull it off: three days of festival with free entry, free camping, normal food-prices and no sponsors or any other commercial activity allowed.