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00.Castle party main small pictureBolkow Castle, Bolkow, Poland
10th to 13th July 2019
Castle Party 2019 - Special Polaroid Project

I have a tradition, almost a ritual. Every year since 2007 I’ve been going to the dark independent festival Castle Party in small Polish town Bolkow. And each time it feels like homecoming: a beautiful tiny town showered with trees, fields and gardens, the Goth people I’ve been knowing for years, good old Castle on the hill, long paved promenade to the main entrance, polite guards, cosy main square that once a year becomes a festive crowded place of gothic meetings and hot discussions... and, of course, music! Varied line-up for all dark tastes.

Castle Party has been existing since 1994 and four years later moved to the Bolkow Castle. In the beginning, the festival lasted only two days and starting from 2000 became a three-days event with after-parties and bands from all over Europe such as ATTRITION, INKUBUS SUKKUBUS, FADING COLOURS, BATALION D’AMOUR, LORIEN, THE DREAMSIDE, LAHKA MUZA, THE DAWN VISITORS, GOD’S BOW, GOD’S OWN MEDICINE, UNDISH and DREADFUL SHADOWS, IAMX, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, TIAMAT.  Since then the festival grew bigger and from year to year the line-up became even richer in well-known bands and DJs.

01.Castle party bus

At that time in Ukraine (where I am from) there weren’t so much festivals alike Castle Party. So, everybody tried to go to nearest Poland for Castle Party or a little bit further, to Germany for WGT. Ukrainian Goth community, using their Castle Party experience and connections, has organized three festivals in yearly 2000’s and only one of them became annual. How it was actually to be a festival goer in Bolkow that days? One option was to stay at the old campsite in a tent, second one to stay in the guesthouse “Panorama” that was actually fully booked weeks before the festival or to stay with locals. The only hotel that existed that time in Bolkow was reserved for musicians, so, not that much options. In the beginning, locals, being Catholics, were too prejudiced towards “people in black”. But the situation has changed and in 2010 it was much easier to find “home stay” even without speaking Polish. I and my friends have been staying at nice old couple’s apartment for five years and the cosy place with good people around has been making every festival even more homey and pleasant.

02.Castle party scene

Infrastructure and merchandise have developed as well. Nowadays, on the festival eve, there are more buses to get to the Bolkow from Wroclaw, the nearest big city. Local shops are better prepared for such amount of people and locals arrange food fair with home-made food. The most popular spot for last the last four years has been “Dumplings from the window”. A local family started to sell freshly made dumplings with different stuffing right out of their apartment’s window, so festival visitors have the possibility to watch all process of making dumpling while they are waiting for their orders. Lots of shops during the festival sell gothic-like clothes and accessories. Last year a local confectionery even started to sell black ice-cream.

05.Castle party dumplings in window

Being a beginning photographer that time I started to take pictures in 2008 during concerts and portrayed fabulous dressed audience and musicians from the bands. From year to year my photographic ideas have developed in different mini-projects. It did not matter if I have accreditation or not, every year I’ve been shooting people’s portraits and documentary photographs to catch the unique atmosphere of the festival, not only the smart dressed Goths. And eventually that moment came when I started to be just a visitor without camera, going back to my 2007’s roots, when I visited Castle Party for the first time, just attending concerts, spending time with friends, staying in campsite.

04.Castle party promenade

Considering that a lot of people with digital cameras have come during the festival and tons of pictures were appearing on internet and social media showing beautiful people in indescribable variety of images, I decided to figure out not the brand new way of making pictures, but rather going minimalistic and very concentrated. This year I felt that my shoulder is missing the presence of the camera. The decision came in old analogue way - making analogue portraits, not with film but with Polaroid camera. I needed those restraints that much: to make portraits having only 20 black and white frames. No chance for even one mistake!

03.Castle party preparing

It was not that easy to choose whom to portray. But I started to listen to my inner voices and emotions hanging around with Instax Mini. First day I decided to take pictures of the people I know for a long time - my friends and acquaintance. On the second and third festival days I just was following my visual desires and tests, listening closely to my heart. Due to being feel like a fish in the pond on the festival ground, I knew all the advantageous spots, so I should have been only very patient and talkative. In this specific way I’ve paid homage to my Castle Party 12th anniversary. All this years are concentrated in this 20 analogue black and white photos (see at the end of the article) as the people around me on this festival are the most valuable and dear along with music.

06.Castle party goth vs locals

At the end a few words about music program of this year. This time I definitely have come to listen to SORROR DOLOROSA from France and SOLSTAFIR from Iceland (who replaced MYRKUR from Denmark due to her pregnancy). Can’t help but I have to mention the great performances of SOLAR FAKE, EIVOR and FORNDOME. DEAD FACTORY was my personal discovery this year.

Line-up: Baśnia, Helroth, Whispers In The Shadow, Aeon Sable, Dawn Of Ashes, Merciful Nuns, Deathstars , DDA, Darkher, Agressiva 69, Żywiołak, UK Decay, Lord Of The Lost, Atari Teeenage Riot , Blitzkrieg, Dark Side Eons, God Module, Solar Fake, Eivor, Solstafir.

Polaroids 01 castle party 2019
Polaroids 02 castle party 2019

All pictures by Liudmyla Radyk

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