Diary of the festival
19 january 2017

We were united by youth

The festival dynasty, which took part in the celebrations in 1957 and 1985, shared stories from the past

Diary of the festival
19 january 2017

We were united by youth

In the coming year the Festival will celebrate its 70th birthday, and in Russia WFYS also will have a round date from the day when the World Festival of Youth and Students was held in our country for the first time. For many decades, our country has managed to change significantly internally and externally, to see millions of new people, to pass a thorny path of political reforms and even to change its name. So want to push for a second the time veil and immerse yourself in those happy days in 1957, when in the whole country for the first time thundered such a bizarre and completely new youth event. We have a great opportunity to turn the clock back and learn a little more about the festivals of previous years, because the festival generations connected in Moscow. Tikhomirov family has become a guide to the past.

Klavdiya Andreevna Tikhomirova in the days of the Festival 2017 will celebrate her 79th birthday. And the Festival of 1957 found her the 19-year-old girl, who had the honor to perform at the opening ceremony of the VI Youth Festival. «The Festival of youth and students reflected in my memory very deeply. It was the first event of this kind in my life, so extensive. Communication with foreign delegations and compatriots, who came to Moscow from the whole country these days, specifically determined my plans for life and changed my worldview”.

«It started in 1956, when I graduated from high school and my mother heard a radio announcement about the opening of the technical school №15, in which was formed a group of technical control, girls only, so I decided to go there. This is where the physical education teacher told us once: «Girls, we are organizing a group of sportsmen to perform at the Festival of youth and students!» The decision to participate was taken immediately! So we created a column of gymnasts of the sports community «Labor reserves» and started to prepare for the opening ceremony of the Festival. We’ve been training very hard; we came to the stadium in Sokolniki every day to practice a variety of gymnastic exercises. We went there in the rain, in the heat and cold and received from our coaches a chocolate, which was almost impossible to get at that time.

During the preparation time passed quickly, and we were ready to perform. On the 28th of July in 1957 in freshly built sports complex "Luzhniki" was held the opening of the Festival of youth and students, where performed our improbable in number column of «Labor reserves», and we - 23 sport gymnasts dressed in blue sarafans – also were in it. And under them was hidden another suit consisting of pink T-shirt and skirt. And so, the grand opening, column started to move in a sports complex, guys marching ahead of us, and we with girls performing our program. Suddenly, the boys stop, in a moment we sit down and unfasten shoulders of sarafans, drop down the lower part, under which were hidden pink T-shirts, then we straighten skirts and rise already absolutely in other suits. I say it, and the lump is in my throat, I still remember how the «Luzhniki» were applauding to us at that moment. At that time what we've done was called a suit transformation, and almost 60 years ago it was still a novelty. And when we sat down in blue and stood up in pink, the guests of the opening applauded so much that all of us were overwhelmed with tears of happiness. I still hear the applause, when I think of the opening day of the VI World Festival of Youth and Students.

We all were very friendly at the Festival, and with foreigners too, off course. And in those days we all were united by youth. We approached to the Festival with such enthusiasm and energy, we wanted to communicate, especially with foreign citizens, because for a long time we didn’t know what it is like.

During the festival week we walked a lot in Moscow, watched movies, talked constantly and smiled all the time. The capital changed a lot during the Youth Festival, the city has transformed for the opening, everywhere were the festival daisies: on university buildings, public institutions and houses. In the city center everywhere was festive illumination, bright lights. And fashion has changed a lot, too. Of course, we all looked at the foreigners - what they looked like, how were they dressed... I remember even how we looked at the foreign girls’ dresses, noticed the most beautiful ones and then tried to copy them, sewed by us or in the atelier. After the Festival sneakers, jeans and so-called pants "bananas” began to appear. Of course, the image of the country has changed: buildings, fashion and views – everything became different.

The capital changed dramatically these days. Russia of that time is still a relatively closed country, perceiving the geographical map of the Earth as a map of the sky. It wasn't easy for an average USSR citizen to go to Paris – just like conquering Mars. The sixth Festival of youth and students opened all doors at once. Muscovites with true Russian hospitality met at the Festival record-breaking 34 thousand of guests from 131 countries of the world. The Festival rushed into Moscow, which just has departed from military cards and never-ending queues. The mechanism of changes of the Soviet society has twirled. The map at last has found the concrete embodiment. The world turned to be fantastically big, various and bright. In this never-ending variety of nationalities, languages, traditions, clothes, music and rhythms matched one striking desire - to communicate and get to know each other better. The Russian people were seized by thirst of knowledge, thirst to learn foreign languages, to read foreign literature…

Within two weeks of the event from 28 July to 11 August 1957, Russia opened and was opened. With one sweep of a wing of Picasso's dove depicted on posters of the Festival, the USSR has become a haven of peace and progress for the people living in it. On ideas, emotions, songs and dances of the Festival a whole generation of that time transformed within a few 14 days. And all Soviet propagandists of freedom of thought, all lovers of jazz compositions and modern art, dandies and polyglots have their origin to summer 1957.

The elder daughter of Klavdiya Adreevna, Elena Tikhomirova also became a witness of the festival events of 1985. They worked at the World Trade Center, which became part of the Preparatory Committee of the Festival and actively participated in organizing the youth event.

«In Moscow in 1985 there were five-leaved chamomiles and the festival Katyushas, blue-eyed and fair-haired girls in sarafans and kokoshniks everywhere – they were a symbol of WFYS. And after the Festival the newborn girls very often were called Katyusha. I suppose that Ekaterina was the most popular name of that year» - shares Elena. «The Moscow Festival of 1985 year now can rightly be called historical, because it allowed Soviet citizens to open a new world in the field of fine arts, literature and especially music. So called "disco 80" swept the youth of that time with particular force exactly after the Festival».

175 countries of the world visited Moscow in 1985. On July 27 was held the great opening in «Luzhniki» which was broadcasted around the world for 4 hours. Fire which marked start of the Festival was lit, and the whole world chanted «Hurrah! Friendship! Moscow! Festival!» The Festival has a new stage ahead of it, and in big and close-knit Tikhomirov family grew up a new generation – three grandchildren which will be able in the next year to continue a tradition to participate in the event, which is really historical for Russia and the whole world – the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students. We are pleased that the festival movement in the whole world and in Russia has formed its longstanding traditions and entire dynasties. On our website we'll continue to tell about those who did everything to make the world brighter and more friendly when they were young. In 2017 they will come to Sochi as honored guests.