Photos of young people partying through the decades at one Russian village disco

In a village in Russia’s Orenburg region, the week is not complete without a dance at the local disco.

30 December 2019

The group photo is a landmark moment of a night out. If you think it’s only millennials that photograph themselves at the beginning of the night (or, else, stumbling out of a club in the early hours of the morning) let it be known that this act of self-indulgence did not pass our predecessors by. These photos were taken in the same venue, only decades apart. But really it looks like all of these people could have been at the same party.

In reality, the party scene in the small southern Russian village where these photos were taken has not changed all that much. In fact, there’s only one place you go to every New Year (and every Friday and Saturday night, for that matter) — the local House of Culture. These Soviet relics first appeared in the 1920s and 1930s as platforms for mass propaganda, but were later developed into community centres. Besides hosting movies, performances, and talks, they’d also organise weekend discos.

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In Daria Morozova’s hometown in the Orenburg region, the local discoteka is still the best party in town, especially for teens. “It’s cheap, at only 30 roubles (£0.37) for entry, so its main visitors are students,” says the St Petersburg-based photographer. Morozova first had the idea for the project while perusing old family photos. “When I got into analogue photography earlier this year, I asked my family to give me their old films to develop.” After discovering that her parents were real party-goers back in the day, she put out a request to family and friends for party photos, past and present. Finally, she contacted the director of her House of Culture to get her hands on their archive. It turns out that the director, Irina Albertovna Gridneva, also organises the disco. “Three of the photos include my parents, as well as aunts and other family members. The other photos feature me and my friends this past New Year’s Eve,” says Morozova.

So, whether you’re in the Soviet Union or heading into the unpredictable decade that is the 2020s, no matter how bad things might seem, this is your reminder that dancing is very good for morale. If the idea of turning your drunken antics into a photo project terrifies you, even in the age of Instagram, you might want to stay clear of your snap-happy friends.

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