"I was born in Borshchahivka. In the original, the only one and the true Borshchahivka. I think I moved approximately 20 times during my childhood. That was the 1990's. We were changing different rent apartments. I spent most of my life in Soloma, Los Soloma, on Antonova Street. It has a former military city at No. 2/32, where my grandmother still lives. Soloma is a very nice place to live, away from the underground. On the way to school No. 115 on Kavkazska Street, I went through Ostrovsky Park, where oaks grow. Oaks! I walked through the park and yards and got to the school. So Kyiv was pedestrian and small for me then. Petrivka was the only place we went with my parents. We took books and movie CDs there. Very rarely did I take my parents out to look at the monument to Kyi, Shchek, and Khoryv, the monument to Princess Olga, which we studied in the lessons "My Kyiv."
In the 8th grade, we started running away from school, exploring the city and skating. It was fun to go to the skate park under the Moscow Bridge, where we watched the skateboarding championship, stick to the adult dudes who rode on rollers or bmx or go to Podil on Andriivsky Descent. The nearest metro station in Soloma is Vokzalna. You go to Vokzalna, get on the metro, switch the station on Maidan to get to Kontraktova. As soon as you get out of the metro, a classmate calls you and says: "Oksana Leonidivna came in, and we said that you had gone to the toilet. Come back immediately." And you do the same thing again. You need 30 minutes because the metro goes fast, and then you just run fast. You come out of breath, red, and lie that you were in the toilet.
I really wanted to explore the city then. It was a kind of drive and excitement to crawl under the school fence and run away.
Most of the students lived in dormitories. There were three of them in Mohylyanka at that time: on Kharkivsky Shosse, 17, in Troieschyna - number two, and in Vorzel - in outskirts. We had a very different schedule according to the Bologna system. Classes had many spaces in the middle of the day sometimes. They lasted from one and a half to three hours. It was not enough to return to the dormitory, so everyone hung out in Podil: Living room, the most authentic Porter on Spaska Street, where even my friends from band 5 Vymir played. Porter then served as the cultural center of Ukraine's modern underground scene. It was like Khvylovy then. Students also hung out in Trapezna and bought alcohol in Silpo. These spaces in the schedule also forced us to invent activities, and we created magazines, short films, applied for competitions, wrote applications to go abroad. I went to Palermo for an Erasmus project.
The years at the university were outstanding because we all lived it. We only studied. Mohylyanka is a small university, unlike Sheva or KPI, where thousands of students learn. There were three thousand together with masters and graduate students, and accordingly, one way or another, everyone really knew everyone.
Before all networking, there was Mohylyanka networking merely of people intersecting at different events. I still have a huge number of acquaintances from Mohylyanka. We communicate and help each other.
We opened Khvylovy very accidentally. It just filled in the gap that was missing. Khvylovy was created by people, many people who went there, who contributed, who brought something, and our merit is that we caught, managed, and directed that process. But everything was built by the efforts of all the people who cared and participated in it, and as a result, everything worked out. In the autumn, after graduating from university, we decided to make a short film competition in Mohylyanka. We also organized an afterparty in the rented basement, which later became the first original Khvylovy in 2015.
In the wave of Ukrainization after the Maidan, I didn’t want to name the place after the grey chair, club, and use some fashionable Englishisms. I needed something authentic. I wanted to search for my own. It seems that this search is still going on all over the country - names, projects, music, literature, and art are changing. You can see how something really authentic is carved out of stone little by little. We chose the name in honor of the writer and one that would be multi-layered in its essence. Khvylovy is also Mykola Fitilov, and it is also an adjective in the Ukrainian language. So what kind? - Khvylovy. This place had ups and downs. It was constantly drowning from leaking pipes and so on. As you name the boat, so shall it float, and this one floats for the full ride. The story is similar to our new place Bagryany. We wanted to maintain this tradition of naming, we went through many different authors, scientists, artists, and so on, and not a single naming touched like Bagryany. Bagryany is one of my favorite Ukrainian authors.
Last year we decided that there was a problem. When you hang out in Podil, you have many places to come in any condition. You can go and find a comfort zone, find certain security, a safe space, many of them. There is no such place for us in the uptown. So we bring the community here.
All my life, I have read about Andriivsky Descent as a Ukrainian Montmartre, as the epicenter of fine arts, the city, the whole country. It used to be like that. But now it is the epicenter of slag Soviet caps and portraits of Klitschko, although dozens of authentic art workshops are located there. 6 or 8 different art studios are next door, and almost every second or third house is like that. They do art there and then exhibit it in various Kyiv galleries, but not on the descent.
I want Andriivsky Descent to make a comeback from its former status, to gather an audience of artists and photographers. It is our global goal for Bagryany to consolidate an art community.
We will hold exhibitions of artists here, including studios from Andriivsky Descent, with the opportunity to buy these paintings so that the tourists who come here can buy something valuable, but not another reproduction of Shevchenko.
At the beginning of the summer, Khvylovy and many other Podil teams took part in a protest in front of the police station. I'm not too fond of protests, but I liked this concept because it is not a protest before the Office of the President or the Government. It is a local story: we are fighting against police lawlessness in Podil. Not in Kyiv, not in the world, not in Ukraine, but Podil. After the protest, the number of cases decreased significantly. Raids throughout the places have stopped, and street searches have decreased tenfold, which is cool. Previously, something happened every day: someone was stopped, searched, taken to the department. One week I was in this Podil department three times, taking away three different acquaintances. You come and start to figure out what they are doing there, or you bring documents. Each of us shares all this news about the detention in the chat of our district. It is our operational response team, which has up to 200 people. It includes residents of Podil, employees of Podil places, cultural and other institutions.
I don't know where Kyiv is moving. Some things are changing for the better — new parks and pocket squares. Other things are moving in the wrong direction, like these new buildings.
Kyiv lacks a whole team of hosts or people who would bring order not for money but for the sake of society. Life in the city does not depend on one person (mayor), but also on the citizens themselves, who also influence changes.
Everyone has to do little things: someone makes Samosad, someone makes a club, someone makes a coffee shop. Small local enhancements can significantly improve the life of the yard, then the district, and then the whole city. It doesn't matter if someone from the top tries to prevent it. It all depends on how well people can learn to come together, work with each other and create something together.
For me, Kyiv is made of everything in the world. You can walk along Andriivsky Descent and look at French landscapes with elements of Italian Rococo. At the same time, you come to the Left Bank and see the Singapore area, or you go to where the Podilsko-Voskresensky Bridge is being built, and this is Bangkok. Kyiv has always been like this. It is a point between Europe and Asia, where cultures are always mixed.
The eclecticism of the city is its calling card. Kyiv has no analogs, Kyiv is not Berlin, Kyiv is not Paris, and Kyiv is not London. Kyiv is Kyiv.
I like to walk around the city all night with my friends. At night the city is much calmer. When there are no people, cars, traffic, it is possible to walk in the center of the road and look at the houses, in the souls of the houses. Very often in Kyiv, you go looking down, under your feet, because of the lousy asphalt, constant slopes, ups and downs. Or you're on the phone, and this is Kyiv for you. Or here the scooter has passed, the car is parked, but in fact, looking up, you see the city's incredible architecture. I try to do this more often when I go somewhere. I say to myself, "Stop, you have to look around." Someone on the balcony has just a paradise on earth with flowers and sunbeds, and here someone has an unreal apartment with a panoramic view from the window, and here you have a cool mural, street art in the form of a mosaic, or something else. It's all around us, but all-day worries make us easily forget this.
Kyiv has lived for a thousand years, one and a half thousand years, and I don't think that any Sluha Narodu party or Vitalii Klytschko can really break this city. The Pechenegs, Genghis Khan, Khan Batu, Russian tsars, Stalin, even the 90s couldn't, so I do not think anyone alone can do that. Cities tend to change suddenly, quickly.
I am sure that there will be people who will do cool things for Kyiv. And I am sure that there will be people who will do bullshit. It was the case in the 12th century and will be in the 25th.
Kyiv will not disappear anywhere because it is a fantastic location of human existence between Europe and Asia, in the middle of the slopes by the river. And we will definitely pollute this river and cut down all the forests, and we will die from the heat, and the woods will be restored, and the river will be cleared, and the dolphins will return to Dnipro."
Andriy Yankovsky, co-founder of Khvylovy and Bagryany bars.