by Lilian Pintea
A young girl sings a popular Romanian song at a
Winston-sponsored concert in Bucharest
It was quite busy and the taxi driver, navigating thorough a sea of people, was complaining and questioning how much students actually study and if this is the best way to spend those small amounts of money they receive from parents. Lines of young people were moving across the poorly lit streets, figuring out how and where to spend the evening. The choices were not too diverse: clubs and disco.
The Piranha club was located at the end of a dark alley. A Romanian Internet site characterizes it as: air, green, live music and student prices in an exotic atmosphere. The exotic part was a bizarre mix of foreign and far away ocean and fishing themes in a touristy traditional Romanian setting. It was green indeed, but the air was less then promised, since big clouds of tobacco smoke was everywhere. There were about 100 or so people, and I could hardly find one or two without cigarettes.
The stage had large
Winston eagles in the background, which made sense when the manager/MC
introduced the musicians and started the concert with the words: "Well,
since everything is ready and the Winston girls arrived, let's start the
concert." (approximate translation) Photo
The music types were quite diverse, beginning with Romanian folk rock and traditional soul-touching Romanian ballads, and ending with American 60th-70th Classic Rock and Rock-N-Roll, such as "Hotel California." Then a 12-14-year-old [pre-pubescent] girl was invited to sing a popular song called Pescarushul (Seagull). It was a song about dreams that have to fly like a seagull, a well-known symbol of freedom and purity. Personally, I was shocked by the contrasts: this young artist singing about dreaming like a seagull's flight was in reality surrounded by the Winston eagles in the background, cigarette smoke and by an environment supporting more killing than achieving of dreams. She performed great, and her mom seemed to be very happy. Neither she nor others seemed to find this scene out of the ordinary -- or in anyway problematic.
I shared my feelings with a nearby young artist. We talked about the struggle of musicians to face economic realities and the role of cigarette companies sponsoring. He was a smoker, but for a year quit smoking for good. However, at one of his band concerts, also sponsored by the tobacco company, he was given (as are all the musicians) free packs of cigarettes and he started to smoke again. What a tradeoff!
Over the course of conversation, here are some of the rationalizations that young Romanians gave for their smoking habit [some sound pretty similar to ones young adults in the U.S. make]:
For more information, contact Lilian Pintea
Note: In Romania,
the Winston brand is owned by Japan Tobacco International