As the cult indie night turns 10, Kisobran’s ‘informal leaders’ explain how it created a unique creative community in the city.
Besides Kisobran, Ivan Ojkic and Marko Radojkovic are also running Zaokret and Sprat bars. Photo: Courtesy of Ivan Ojkic and Marko Radojkovic
There are few DJ nights that inspire fierce loyalty in Belgrade like Kisobran, an indie party which celebrates turning 10 on December 1 with a big bash at Drugstore. This is partly because ever since its humble beginnings, when it drew only a couple of hundred guitar music fans, Kisobran has always been more than just a party where you could lose yourself to the Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Mac DeMarco, The xx and other bands beloved by Pitchfork’s snooty critics. It is also much more than a place where Belgrade’s artsy kids of all stripes come to be themselves, in the most disinhibited way possible.
Throughout its 10 years, what set Kisobran apart was that in an increasingly alienating city; it was a community where anyone interested could take part and feel at home: in designing elaborate stages, creating VJ sets, designing tickets, taking photos or organising exhibitions.
Kisobran’s cult strengthened with the opening of its first permanent temple in 2015, the Zaokret cafe in the now trendy Cetinjska nightlife district. The café is run by Kisobran’s current (informal) leaders, Marko ‘Marun’ Radojkovic and Ivan ‘Junjior’ Ojkic, who have spent the better part of a decade preaching Kisobran’s gospel of creativity, openness and love of urban culture.
Speaking about Kisobran’s beginnings, they remember how back in the late 2000s Belgrade’s club scene was fiercely divided according to music tastes: turbofolker vs. EDMers vs. Rappers. Indie music enthusiasts did not have any nights for themselves.
“It was a need for a very small group of people in town, who did not have the how and where to have fun. Indie kids of our age did not have a party for themselves: so Kisobran created a bubble for a few hundred people… and thorough the years we grew up together,” Radojkovic explains.
As both Radojkovic and Ojkic are quick to point out, they were not part of Kisobran at the very beginning: it was Ojkic’s elder brother, Goran, who joined forces with several other like-minded DJs who separately only drew in a few dozen people a night. As Ojkic explains, the idea was to create a loose confederation of like-minded people under a single brand to try to draw in larger crowds.
The plan was a success after a few years. Kisobran – ‘Umbrella’ in English – mushroomed and drew in thousands of revellers to its big parties. However, the focus has always been less on the crowds than on a special aesthetic.
“We never intended for it to be a mass party: I always wanted it to be for 300 people who all love the songs that I love. There were personalised tickets, custom created VJ sets and stages. It was our way to show and do something different,” Ojkic explains.
This approach drew in not only many fans but also dozens of collaborators from Belgrade’s creative circles – designers, musicians and visual artists – who chipped in with their works and ideas.