Why I Don’t Support EXIT

By on 7-16-2012 in Daily Life, Politics

Well, EXIT 2012 is officially over. Many attendees might still be recouping this Monday afternoon, but the festival is officially done.  Novi Sad can be rid of its drunken, drugged masses until next summer.  However, I didn’t go. I’ve never been to EXIT in the 2.5 years I’ve lived in Serbia so far.

Now, in 2010 I would have gone to EXIT for one artist really – The Chemical Brothers.  They are part of my playlist when I write on my novel-in-progress. I’ve always loved TCB. However, I was forewarned that the sound can be quite shit, and since I love them so much, I shouldn’t see them live for the first time at EXIT. Okay… makes sense. David Guetta would have been nice to see, too. However, he flaked out and didn’t show. Bad Guetta!  The rest of the lineup was just “meh” to me. Nothing to definitely write home about.  So we (boyfriend and I) decided to opt out of EXIT 2010 and spend the money elsewhere – which would be a trip to Sokobanja the following month.

Now I had been told by many Serbs I’d met that EXIT was nice, but that every year it was getting worse and worse.  The explanations for this varied from too many foreigners, shitty lineups, and the entire EXIT Fest being nothing but an excuse for drug and alcohol sales which have climbed drastically over the last couple years.

Now, let me give a brief history of EXIT in general.

The festival began in 2000 as a student protest against the Milošević regime. During its 13 years of existence, it has developed into one of the best European music festivals, but also as an organization with a powerful social platform. Exit has been visited by over two million people in more than 60 countries worldwide. CNN, The New York Times, and many others have on numerous occasions proclaimed EXIT amongst the top 10 world festival destinationsEXIT Festival (Wikipedia)

Being against Milošević is okay. I liked that about EXIT when I first heard about it.  One thing you’ll realize if you pay attention to events and happenings in Serbia is that almost everything is backed with a political position.  Even the music festivals. However, since 2000 the purpose of EXIT obviously changed. Milošević is not an issue.  This doesn’t mean the Festival doesn’t have a political agenda. Enter EXIT 2011.

EXIT 2011 sported an okay lineup.  Only artist I was interested in seeing was Jamiroquai, maybe Groove Armada and Deadmau5. Other than that, nothing really made me giddy to take the trek up north for 4 days and deal with drunk and drugged crowds predominantly full of egotistical and rude foreigners. The cost was definitely ludicrous, too. The statistics after the Fest proved that less and less locals are attending EXIT and it’s predominantly just foreigners.

But one thing made EXIT 2011 different for me and many other Serbs and Serbian supporters. One band made the difference. Now, I’m not bashing the band. Never listened to a single song of theirs.  However, it’s how they were promoted. The ground The Freelancers were advertised as being a band from Kosova. Not cool.  At all.  Such things are big no-no here.  Example: There is a flag shop here in Belgrade.  Great quality of flags, too.  They have a saying that they will make any flag you want except two: Nazi flag and Republic of Kosova flag. Logical! It’s like Ford’s saying “You can have it in any color as long as it’s black.”

Now, I tried to find an official lineup from EXIT for 2011.  But they are non-existent anymore on the ‘net. I obviously found lots of information about The Frelancers.  Supposedly, they tried to keep their origin under wraps, and sang in English only. Honestly, I wasn’t there, and I only remember seeing a few advertisements for EXIT 2011 that opening admitted and said they were from “Republic of Kosova.”  It is even against the law here to show maps of Serbia excluding the sacred southern province. So why in the world would EXIT promote their location as Republic of Kosova?  Every website for The Freelancers opening admits they are from the “Republic of Kosova” from their Facebook page, their official website, and even two articles about the band from two different sources (Kosovo 2.0 and PRI’s The World).

EXIT is known for its strong political ties to pro-Western ideologies and pro-EU stance. While I try to stay away from supporting organizations and events that are pro-EU/pro-Western, I’m not naive to think it’s possible to avoid them all. It’s just too hard.  But I will never support anything that sees Kosovo i Metohija as the Republic of Kosova. It’ll never happen.

At the time of the EXIT 2011 I was still teaching English regularly.  I asked my students how they felt about this and whether it would affect their decision to attend or not.  It was about 60/40. About 60% of my students, when they found out, were disappointed with EXIT’s organizers and said they’d have a hard time attending EXIT no matter who the performers were.  The other 40% said that they didn’t care about them promoting the band as from Kosova and/or didn’t care about EXIT in general.

So, if you ask me whether I’m going to EXIT in 2013 or any year after, the answer will 99% be No. Unless serious changes happen with EXIT, I have no intention of giving my money to anything they support.  That even means backing out of seeing one of my favorite electronic bands, The Prodigy in Sept (2012) because EXIT is promoting them. Just can’t do it.

And aside from the promotion of The Freelancers’ “origin” I just cannot support something that openly promotes such reckless use of alcohol and drugs, among many other things I just can’t agree with.

Does supporting a band from the “Republic of Kosova” affect whether you’ll attend EXIT or not? Why is that your decision?



  1. Well I’m not too versed on the Kosovo issue, so I don’t think I can really comment on that. Better to be thought a fool and all that. However I can see why it would affect you. I know how strongly you, and Serbia pretty much as a whole, feel on that issue. I do find it odd that they would promote them like that too. I will say though that if a festival, or anything, did something that I did not agree with, especially a moral issue, then it would affect me and my decision to support them. I do think it depends on what it is though. Sadly as well pretty much every music festival is just a haven for drugs, drink, and meaningless sex.

  2. I am sorry Mark, I read your comment and just had to respond – in my opinion music festivals are not a haven for drugs drink and meaningless sex any more then your average uni campus or town on a Friday or Saturday night, it is just magnified with a lot of people in a small area. Most people, me included, still attend festivals to enjoy the music and have a good time.

    Kiki- like Mark I do not feel I know enough about Kosovo to comment but I would be interested to know if you did not attend Exit how do you know that all the Foreigners there were rude and egotistical?

    I have just spent a few weeks in Belgrade visiting my Family (I am half Serb on my Mothers side) and I was quite concerned alarmed and the attitudes that I came across with regards to outside influences and foreign people, including a lot of racism and outdated (in my view) opinions. I think that it is a good that that the youth in Serbia have the opportunity to learn and experience influences from other cultures and peers from other countries and Exit provides a good chance for this to happen – and there are positive influences to be found; it is not all just about drugs and alcohol! I think more of this is needed otherwise Serbia is in danger of isolating itself while the rest of Europe move into the future together. Of course it is important that Serbian traditions are maintained but as with everything there has to be progression and development for them to survive.

    • Music festivals aren’t ALL about drugs and sex. True. However, nowadays that is the majority of the crowd’s main purpose.

      As for me not going to EXIT but knowing how the foreigners act – My boyfriend and friends have been throughout the years. I have friends that still go. They don’t even hold the same political views of me. They all tell me that EXIT is nothing but rude foreigners looking to “have a good time” and get wasted. Most use the music as an excuse to come here. I recently read an article (I’ll have to find it again) that this year’s EXIT festival had the worst case of prostitution they’ve ever seen here. There were prostitutes that even came in from other countries and worked as “elite hookers” in hostels and clubs.

      Can you elaborate on what you experienced to make you be alarmed about the attitudes you encountered here? As an American born non-Serb, I can’t say I’ve ever encountered any negative feelings toward me personally. Yes, many people here don’t care for governments and mentalities of other countries like the USA. They just don’t want to see Serbia become like the US or the UK. That’s my experience. So I’m just curious what you experienced since everyone’s time here is different.

      As for Serbs learning and experiencing different cultures, they do that more than Americans do. Everyday. However, I cannot say that going to EXIT is a way to experience and learn about different cultures. Can you explain how they can do that at EXIT?

  3. Hey, where have you been?? I’ve missed seeing your posts here. ;)

    As for EXIT (late reaction here I know), I’ve always wanted to go to Novi Sad, but not for the festival really. David Guetta might be good to see.

    And as far as some band from “Kosova” – well, you already KNOW how I feel about all that BS, so I won’t even go into it!!

    Hope you are well and back to some blogging soon.

    • Hey stranger! I’m not hiding, promise! Just been quite busy with getting my personal life back together. Many work problems have arisen and so I’ve had to spend lots of time getting financial security again. Such is life, right?

      I promise, though, there will be some things coming soon. :)

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