We’ve just finished our little inter-camp festival in Letanovce. Everything went very well - you’d almost think it was a professionally organised event. Our input and that of Les Ogres de Barback were essential, not to mention the help given by the co-organisers in Letanovce. The inhabitants of the area, led by Milan, coordinated logistics and organisational matters on site, as well as making sure the event was covered for safety purposes. And, for that matter, there was not a single safety incident to report. All of the locals, gathered in huge crowds in front of us, were exceptionally well-behaved and, in spite of a punishing sun, literally devoured the show that we had organised for them. Avid spectators packed in around the stage area cordoned off with barrier tape, like masses of bodies pressed together at rush hour in the Paris underground. Others gathered on roofs of shacks all around the area, which somehow managed to stay in place under the weight of the people in these makeshift ‘stands’. There was even a group of French people there who’d heard about the event on our MySpace page and who’d decided to travel to this ‘middle of nowhere’ to attend it. Their friendliness and good spirit were much appreciated, and their attendance was rewarded with spontaneous thanks from Milan, the local authority: "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming – that way, if nothing else, people can see that we’re not some kind of savage people...". It’s true that not many positive things happen here, so it was a real pleasure for everyone. As it was election day, the police were patrolling the entrance of the battered road leading to the camp, but they were kind, just checked my identity, and didn’t bother us further. The elections inspired me in my final speech to the public, where I suggested that perhaps in twenty or thirty years’ time I would be going to the urn to vote for one of them, insisting on the fact that one of the young people gathered there in their masses could become president one day, just like Obama. The message was understood, but it gave way to chants of “On with the show” for the dance finale, with all performers gathered on stage. In other words, it’s better to have a great song than tons of speeches and mirages, even if they have the best of intentions…

All’s well that ends well, except for the financial situation, where we all find ourselves on an equal footing – the camp, performers, and other participants – united in destitution given the absence of institutional support. But we can’t complain, because we didn’t ask anyone for anything. When it came to choosing between investing time and effort into requesting funding for organising the event, which would have take up all of our time, we opted for the second solution – to organise it using our own funds. That meant on nothing at all – only on the friendship and 300 euros brought by our friends Johann and Sébastien of Yepce, who managed, by some miracle, to raise this sum on their two thousand-kilometre journey, the famous Cycling Challenge, conceived to support our event. And let’s not forget Gabi Jimenez, who put one of his paintings up for sale, with all proceeds going to the festival.


So a big thanks is due to Johann and Seb, as well as to Les Ogres de Barback, Gabi and everyone else who, through their dynamism, helped us to continue this improbable adventure, which ended well, as it has in the past. And let’s not forget that through the images of Alain Keler and the drawings of Emmanuel Guibert, our adventures will be recounted in the next issue of XXI magazine, which served as an intermediary with Milan in Letanovce. It just goes to show that sometimes you have to take a few detours to finally reach the right place at the right time… somewhere between the deluge of floods we had last week and the tropical heatwave we experienced on the day of the festival itself.

We also visited a new village not far from there, which is practically ready to house all of Letanovce’s inhabitants. It was quite impressive, as are all new accommodation units which lie empty before becoming invested by their future inhabitants. Of course, there’s also a vague impression of a military camp about it (we won’t mention the word gulag…), with lines of huts, all in a perfect geometrical order, whose design couldn’t be farther from that of their current dwellings, built using any old materials found lying around. Who knows, perhaps this Cartesian alignment will bring about the change in mentalities much hoped for by those who conceived of this  “mini migration of people”, or, on the contrary, this will be just another try to change the façade, without asking questions about the content…

Whatever you wish to call it, we’re glad to have been able to come and organise the event while there’s still time in these places which are destined to disappear. And we’re prepared to do the same thing again in the new location, so that a spell can be cast over it and it can be transformed into a magical place, and so that the change to this new accommodation goes as smoothly as possible. And let’s not forget that within these new walls made of concrete and indestructible, as per the wishes of the brave designers of this humanitarian project aimed at cleaning up the areas around the Slovakian National Park, people must treasure the memory of their houses made from logs and corrugated metal sheets. Misery and desperation aside, these dwellings gave birth to all of these magnificent, beautiful songs, splendid in their simplicity, which gives us all so much joy and which we are delighted to be able to share with you. So let’s hope that even within these rectangular slabs of concrete, the soul will also find its place, and that music will be never be absent… Fortunately, I believe that there’s no fear of that happening…


Warm greetings,


Ivan Akimov