What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Iraq? Electronic music probably isn’t at the top of anyone’s list. Especially for those of us with any military experience. Nevertheless, those associations may be starting to change and Friday’s events in Baghdad should be a clear sign of that. News of Iraqi teens celebrating the first ever Summer Festival, indicates a new image of the country is on the horizon. And yes, EDM is part of that changing narrative.
Several news outlets including Yahoo News are sharing the story of the celebration. Reportedly, after erecting a night club on a basketball court, the People’s Stadium opens its doors for the Summer Festival. Certainly, glare from neon lights is a welcome sight in the country’s capital where gunfire formerly dominates the night sky. After a car show, attendees could dance to a DJ set including popular Iraqi hits and Western songs. This comes as quite a shock for a region that as recently as 2017 is firmly in the midst of war with internal and external sources.
Indeed, Baghdad’s Summer Festival is quite unexpected for a country who recently was too dangerous due to constant suicide bombings. However, it’s likely not the biggest story here. For instance, women reportedly are among the festival’s thousands of partying Iraqi’s. The Yahoo report quotes Layan, a 19-year old woman, as saying, “I love this type of music.” Seemingly, this hints at a possible shift toward inclusion for a culture notoriously conservative regarding women in public spaces. Moreover, it potentially reveals a softening of views on western influence.
Hopefully, Summer Festival is a sign of things to come for the Iraqi people.