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Understanding Something Different

By Becka


            Early in the day on November 15th, we went to look for a club in Dubrovnik we were told was hard to find.  Club Orlando, it turns out, is tucked away in the most unexpected place, behind an old bombed-out hospital turned homeless shelter, a relic from the war a decade earlier.  The graffiti covering the walls of the buildings along the street, proclaiming the Anarchycroatia symbol and “Punk’s not dead!” led the way.

            I returned the 17th and from a distance it looked somewhat foreboding, the only light shape behind the darkened building of the hospital, even though we’d been there twice before.  Croatian youth stood on the steps, dressed mostly in black, long hair and leather.  Metal heads?  There were patches on back-packs and jackets broadcasting the latest awesome punk band, much like the “punk scene” at home.  This was the first time I’d seen the stoop so crowded.

            Through the door rock music was blaring, 20 Kuna and a hand stamp later and we were inside.  It looked as dead inside as our previous two visits, a few people lined the walls talking, some stood at the bar, drinking and laughing.  Three beers and a deck of cards in the corner; half-way through our game some guys filed into the room and watched.  One paid particular attention and I wondered what he saw.  Four people around a table, dressed in sweaters, long sleeve shirts, big hoodies and jackets behind them on the shelf.  Nervous as he approached, beer and cards, talking loudly in English above the music.  Did we represent the American youth or just a part of it, as he did for us?

croatia 2            Before the band began, he came closer and talked for a bit.  He seemed to make a game of pretending he knew very little English, making fun of us.  All in good humor, it seemed.  A sea of kids filed into the main room, dressed in clothing we’d consider punk at home, to watch a Hip Hop band from Split.  Our new “friend” moved up the front and danced away, cigarette in hand.

            Watching the crowd I think about the War in Croatia and what I’ve read.  “The first thing I noticed from our conversation was their incapability to laugh and joke.  The hardest thing to see was children being serious,” wrote Nives Ritig-Beljak in his article War Lunch, about the Croatian war in the 1990s (164).  I wonder, are these those same children, now so willing to yell and sing, laugh and dance?  At home this crowd would have fled the minute they heard the rapping.  I watched my friends tap their feet and bob their heads, the same way I’d seen the Croatian youth doing when Johnny Cash was played hours before.  Here, I realized, rebellion is rebellion, music is music and the only true international languages. 

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