Sunday, 20 August 2017



Julaya - over 40 and slightly confused



by Vesselina Vassileva   
It’s been a while now since Julaya, the peacefully rebellious beach celebration of 1st of July sunrise, has first taken place – Bulgarian hippies crowding the beach, drinking and awaiting to meet the early sunrays with Uriah Heep’s July Morning. 42 years later this bohemian tradition still holds – in fact, quite well so. And while a few remember Julaya’s original spirit, the event seems to deliver more and more commercial success to those, who choose to profit from it.

Yesterday thousands of Bulgarians welcomed the sunrise on the Black sea shore - in Varna, Kavarna, Bourgas, Ahtopol, Sunny beach and many other seaside places, to the sound of local performers and world-famous bands. Beach joints, clubs, restaurants and event managers scored well with getting involved in the celebration. To many of those attending, the pleasure to experience the arrival of the summer in an extreme way is still the same like to the previous generation, which was partying here in the 70s and in the 80s. But very little seems to remain from the alternativeness it once possessed.

In fact when the tradition started in the 70s, it was in Varna. But young hippie-like individuals, gathering to drink through the night on the beach was not a notion, welcomed by Bulgaria’s former communist regime and its militia. Even less so, as it went under the sounds of a British rock band, and later involved punk and metal, implying strong Western influence.

To avoid militia control, Julaya’s hippies moved away from the towns and searched for wild, unspoiled by civilization places to celebrate their ritual.

After the fall of the communist regime July morning turned into fashion, but lost most of its initial meaning. Only the tradition to eat and drink lavishly on the beach while waiting for the sunrise was preserved.

Nowadays very few people know about the origin of the fest or the song it was named after. Clubs, joints, cafes offer each year multiple versions of the celebration, in a wide range of music styles.

When some years ago Uriah Heep’s musicians discovered their fame in Bulgaria, they were flabbergasted – also because they thought of July Morning as of one of their less popular singles. Since 2007 some of them – in particular Ken Hensley, the author, and John Lawton, the former singer of the band, are regular guests for the Julaya.



Uriah Heep singing July Morning on a Bulgaria's Black Sea beach in 2007

July morning has clearly evolved from a youth rebellion against communist rule to an extreme escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and a way to charge your batteries with the bright July sun. But there is still a chance for the original antiestablishment spirit of the event to resurrect – one of the latest ideas was to pronounce 1st of July a day of the free spirit.

 

 

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