RIGA: HIPSTER CAPITAL OF EUROPE
In Riga, everything is “in trend” – after all, it is the hipster capital of Europe
Text: Diana Chernichenko
Riga resident Katya Kovalenko points to the squat red brick buildings standing one after another: “Once there were warehouses of a cargo port here. This area on the Daugava Embankment from the XIV century served to unload ships, and in the second half of the XIX century these thirty-five red barns were built here. “Spikeri” after all in translation into Russian and means “barns”.
Katya is a journalist in the past, and in the present – the founder of the Latvian brand of designer accessories SOYKA, focused on young fashionable intellectuals, those who are considered to be hipsters. She conducts for us a tour of the hipster capital of Europe – it was the title that was awarded to Riga by experts from the authoritative travel portal for SkyScanner travelers.
The starting point of the trip is the Speikeri quarter. Riga flax and hemp exporters once kept their goods in the barns that gave it a name. One of the main ones was Kuzma Mukhin – about his hemp ropes govovye ropes said that they can lift any ship from the bottom of the Baltic. The current spirit of the area would be more to the liking of the merchant’s granddaughter, the famous sculptor Vera Mukhina. The creative atmosphere has changed its trade atmosphere; the Kim? Center for Contemporary Art has settled in the premises of the former warehouses. This abbreviation has two decoding options: kas ir maksla? (“What is art?”) And kas ir muzejs? (“What is a museum?”). In Kim? Contemporary European artists are exhibited, next to it is a concert venue with jazz and chamber music and the independent theater Dirty Deal known for its avant-garde productions. All for those who want to be in trend.
Actually, the very concept of “hipster” originally arose – in America in the 1940s, from the slang expression to be hip (“to be in the subject”) – just to refer to those who follow trends. Then it mostly meant listening to jazz and dressing in a dandy.
Modern hipsters manage to combine middle class values with bohemian interests. They listen to indie rock and watch arthouse cinema, go to open air (music festivals in the fresh air), appreciate street food, drink craft beer, travel a lot. And in both eyes follow the new trends in all spheres of life.
From Speikeri close to the covered Central Market – one of the oldest and largest in Europe. Until recently, it was not marked on the hipster map of Riga, but now on the area of almost six hectares they have started a grand reconstruction, after which, as promised, the market will become the center of gravity of the creative class. Asphalt is already being replaced with paving stones, bicycle paths are being laid around the perimeter, and they want to arrange sites for cultural events near the trade pavilions.
While the Central is changing its appearance, the much more intimate Kaltsniemsky market in the Pardaugava district of the same name enjoys Bohemia’s popularity. One of the concepts of the hipster ideology is environmental friendliness of consumption, and the purchase of farm products and the support of small business fit into it as well as possible. Seasonal vegetables and berries, craft cider, freshly baked bread, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, meat, smoked eels and lamprey from market stalls diverge from hipsters with a bang.
“The most eco-friendly is not to buy new things at all,” Ivan, who is standing behind the counter at the Latgalit flea market, tells me competently.
Located at the Central Station Latgalchik, as Russian-speaking residents of Riga affectionately call him, is a veteran of the vintage movement: he is already more than thirty years old. Recently, it is increasingly possible to meet here bohemian youth in search of interior items, clothing, household appliances, rare books and records of the 1970s and 1980s.
“Not macaroni, but macaroons”. “No, macaroons are coconut, and these are macaroni, like macaroni, which is pasta.” And nothing funny! ”At a table in a cafe arbOOz argue about the assortment of a guy and a girl of twenty. In fashionable youth, the institution of confectioner Karina Krasovitskaya, known in Riga, is classified as “must-see”. Instead of banal desserts in the menu, there are a dozen types of those pasta, cupcakes and cakes with cream (this stuffing is a cross between cream and mousse).
After drinking a cup of cappuccino in arbOOz, you can go to Mira Street – the center of hipsters in the city of hipsters. It seems that besides them there is no one else at all. In the Miera cafe – pastries for vegans, near the ILLUSEUM tea shop, the Rocket Bean Roastery coffee shop and the bohemian DAD Café, where jazz is played. The eco-clothing studio, bicycle workshop, ceramics studio and hairdressing salon Melnais Knabis (translated as “Black Beak”), where the book exchange point operates, are open next door: customers can leave a read book here and take a new one in return.
Its owner, Vlad Savelyev, collects Latvian paintings and holds poetry readings in his institution. Such a combination of close attention to external attributes (shearing in the “Black Beak” according to the latest fashion) and to culture ideally reflects the essence of the hipsterism.