Cue nightlife returned amid the urge to connect. ‘This is the cure.’

KYIV — The rave was planned for weeks, the venue reserved and the DJs, drinks, invitations and security all lined up.

But after a recent missile attack in central Ukraine that killed more than 25 people, including children, an attack that unnerved all of Ukraine, Rio organizers faced a difficult, last-minute decision. met for Should they postpone the party?

They decided: Not at all.

“This is exactly what the Russians want,” said Dmytro Vasilkov, one of the organizers.

So they installed massive speakers, blasted the air conditioning and covered the windows of a cavernous room with black curtains. Then, they opened the doors of an old silk factory in Kyiv’s industrial quarter.

And as if on command, the room was filled with young men with their shirts off and young women in black, all moving as if in a trance, facing forward, almost like a church, the DJ. Altar.

It was dark, sweaty, loud and glorious. Here was a country at war that touched everyone in the room but still danced their hearts out.

“If you know how to use it, it’s therapeutic,” said one river, Oleksii Podoritsky, a teenager who lives with his grandmother and hasn’t been outside in months.

After a long lull, Kyiv nightlife is roaring back.

Many are venturing out for the first time since the war began. Drinking by the river. To meet a friend. Sitting in a bar having a cocktail. Or three.

It’s a city full of young people who have come together for two years, first because of Covid and then because of the war with Russia. They yearn for contact. War heightens that desire, especially this war, where a Russian cruise missile can take you out anywhere, anytime.

And now that summer is in full swing, and heavy fighting is mostly concentrated in eastern Ukraine, hundreds of miles away, Kyiv is finally feeling a little less guilty about going out.

“That was a big question for me: Is it okay to work during a war? Is it okay to pour a cocktail during a war?” said Bohdan Chihorka, a bartender. “But the first shift was the answer. I could see it in the customers’ eyes. It was psychotherapy for them.

With each passing weekend, it gets easier to find a party in a city that already has a reputation for being cool. The other night a hip-hop event became a sea of ​​heads. The party was held outside. It started raining for a spell. But it didn’t matter. The party was on. Bodies were bumping on the dance floor.

Across the city, people streamed out of sidewalk cafes. There were fewer empty stools standing inside the bars than just a few weeks ago. Along the Dnieper River, which runs through Kyiv, hundreds of people sat with friends on the banks of the walls, and often drank wine, covered by a surprisingly long twilight and a silky blue sky, the wonders of a northern climate. They used to present it in jumble. a summer night.

But the curfew hangs over the city like a hammer. The party may go on, but so does the war.

By 11 p.m., according to a municipal decree, everyone must leave the streets. Anyone caught violating it faced a fine or, for young people, a potentially heavy consequence: an order to report for military service. Working backwards, that means the bars close at 10, to allow workers to go home. Last call is at 9 pm. That’s why people are leaving early.

For example, in the old silk factory, it started at half past two in the afternoon.

Yet, even in this strange time, people in Rio said they managed to forget the war, pounding techno and a few other aids. They synchronized with the bass vibrations, closed their eyes and were able to “dissolve” and “escape”. Moment by moment.

War is not just a hovering shadow but a force that directs everyone’s life, dominates everyone’s thoughts, overshadows everyone’s mood, however hard they try to do these things. Doing what they used to enjoy.

Both hip-hop parties and raves donated proceeds to war efforts or humanitarian causes, part of the reason the parties were held in the first place.

And in casual conversation, like on a Pink FriedOnce upon a time, the war kept coming. Small talk between a young woman and Mr. Chihorka, the bartender, who also works as a psychotherapist, leads to a conversation about hobbies that leads to a discussion about books that lead to turned to the Russians.

Mr. Chihorka told the young woman that he was selling his large collection of Russian language books because he never wanted to study Russian again.

“This is my own battle,” he explained.

He added that he felt that the whole psyche of the city had changed. “Kief is different now,” he said. “People are more polite, more friendly. They’re not drinking as hard.”

The yearning for a close connection, something meaningful in the midst of an earthquake, a horror event that won’t go away, is what brought two dozen people to a recent “cuddle” party.

Cuddle parties began before the war, but those who came two Sundays ago – a mix of men and women in their early 20s to mid-60s – said they really needed them now.

Huggers gathered in a large, tent-like structure near the river, and as new-age music played, they lay down on floor pillows in a big warm heap. Some stroke their neighbor’s hair. Others held each other tightly, eyes closed, as if this was the last hug they would ever share with anyone. After about 15 to 20 minutes, the pile woke up.

The huggers opened their eyes, untangled themselves, stood up and straightened their pants. The whole idea is to get physical comfort from hanging out with a stranger. They found new costume partners and new positions.

The instructor was clear that none of this should be sexual or romantic. But still, it seemed like a G-rated orgy.

This coziness is another dimension of Kew’s party scene at the moment: many social gatherings are designed specifically to provide relaxation.

Maxim Yasni, a graphic designer, just held a 24-hour yoga party, which he said was “really cool” but not like going out before the war.

He said that before the war, the night life of Kyiv was shining with different colors. “You could spend the whole night going from party to party. I’d really upset myself if I let myself think about it.

Now, when it hits 10, Keef has developed a nervous energy. People drink on the street, or by the river, checking their watches. They covered the clear plastic bottles of cider they were swinging, got up and walked away.

Cars go fast. Run more yellow lights. The clock is ticking.

Uber prices triple, if you can find it.

Some youths, seeing the impossibility of hailing a ride, say goodbye to their friends and start running home with their heads down, desperate to beat curfew.

At the stroke of 11, Keef stops. Nothing moves. The sidewalks are empty.

All the energy that had been building, building, was suddenly drowned out in an eerie, city-wide silence.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.