Crowds stand by One Love Fest despite the alcohol ban
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The festival venue was packed with revelers who occupied the park outside the festival venue and enjoyed their beers, ignoring any possible reaction from locals.
Organizers of the Efes Pilsen One Love Festival were informed just 30 minutes before the start of the July 14 event that they would not be permitted to serve alcohol, but the surprise cancelation failed to dampen the enthusiasm of concert-goers who continued to imbibe the banned drinks outside the gates. Işıl Kılkış, a company representative of the Pozitif, the concert promotion agency which also owns prominent indie music club Babylon, said the announcement took them by surprise because the owners of the santralistanbul venue previously pledged to fulfill their contract permitting sales of alcoholic beverages on festival premises despite efforts from The Turkish Green Crescent (Yeşilay) and conservative locals living in Eyüp to ban alcohol from the event. santralistanbul is a campus of Istanbul Bilgi University, which is owned by the U.S-based Laureate International Universities Network. Last week, Yeşilay, a Turkish association that combats drug abuse and alcoholism, started a campaign to cancel Efes Pilsen One Love, one of Turkey’s biggest rock festivals, because it is sponsored by beer brand Efes Pilsen.
Muharrem Balcı, head of the group said they had appealed to the Istanbul Governor’s Office to request the cancelation of the event, but Istanbul Deputy Gov. Ali Bakoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News that they had not received a legal notification from the conservative group. When controversy over alcohol sales accelerated with protests from locals of the conservative district, promoters considered changing the festival venue. Kılkış, however, said they held meetings with the venue owners and decided that changing the venue was not necessary since all parties had the required permits and could continue with the planned serving of alcohol. Had the venue owners announced the alcohol restrictions earlier, the promoters could have changed the venue, officials said.
Ban changes nothing
Some tickets holders reacted harshly to the late prohibition announcement, demanding reimbursements on the festival’s Facebook page and Twitter. However, the festival venue was packed with revelers who occupied the public park outside the festival venue and enjoyed their Efes Pilsens, ignoring any possible reaction from locals. Some locals in various conservative groups such as Eyüp Platform, Öğ-Der (Conscious Teachers’ Society) and Din-Bir-Der (The Society of Muslim Clergy), posted banners on public and private properties around the venue in protest at the festival, while some locals also reportedly walked to the festival venue chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great). Although Efes Pilsen could not sell its products within the festival area, peddlers did outside. Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity, one peddle said he lived in Eyüp as well. “The police told us not to sell beer here, and I moved away a few meters. As you see, I am selling beer in my present location.”
He also said the anger toward the alcohol consumption did not reflect the views of everyone in the district, noting that his neighborhood, Nurtepe, was politically conscious and that many there had no negative view of alcohol consumption.
By the time the Kaiser Chiefs, the headline act, began their performance, the crowd outside the venue had already flocked to the main stage. The band played many of their hits which have been released as a singles compilation called “Souvenir,” and the crowds ran high and dry as they played. Toward the end of the show, the band’s lead singer, Ricky Wilson, asked the crowd whether they had had any beer at all, and the crowd replied in the negative – a response that was far from the truth for many.