Mention the 1950s and images of wide smiling, dapperly dressed couples swinging to Rock ‘n’ Roll songs spring to mind. Marry that with American burgers, milkshakes and white petticoats, jukeboxes and open roofed Cadillacs, then you’re looking at the first retro festival of its kind here on the island: The Jukin Cyprus, a three-day celebration of 1950s popular culture, food, classic cars, clothes, bands, pinball machines and jukeboxes.
Founder and organiser of the über successful German based festival The Jukin’ 50s, Markus Wiessing, is now introducing the joys of retro to Cyprus, at Meneou Beach, Larnaca from September 30 to October 2. He is no stranger to the demands of organising such an event, with 25 years of coordinating his annual festival in Germany (which attracted tens of thousands visitors and 3,500 vintage cars this year) is excited to introduce a smaller but equally vintage packed event here.
Guests from all round Europe are expected to be flying in for the festival.
“The idea is to combine the 50s lifestyle, as well elements of the 60s and 70s – I guess you can call it nostalgic lifestyle really, and offer it to the people who love this kind of music and pop culture,” says Markus. Tired of the common techno style ‘noise’ here (as he calls it,) he conceived that he could offer a new and fun experience to other like minded people. “I think that possibly the over 35-year-olds on the island might appreciate having some music with melodies and vocal harmonies,” he laughs. “There’s a huge difference between Jive, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Doo-Wop and Rockabilly music compared to modern music, the first is happy music that takes you by the heart. You can’t help but tap your fingers and feet, it’s got rhythm, it’s impossible to remain still to it,” he explains.
Jukin Cyprus will host about 10 professional international retro bands flying in to jam songs of yesterday as well as one local, and possibly the only 1950s band on the island, The Xiles. Together, they’ll Jive, Rockabilly, Doo-Wop and Rock ‘n’ Roll us under the stars to the likes of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Dean Martin and other favourites whose songs filled the 50s US and UK charts. From 3pm the days will be filled listening to a UK DJ playing record hop retro tunes while people enjoy chilling, swimming and dancing. Then leisurely checking out the retro paraphernalia in the nostalgic markets, vintage jukeboxes, pinball/ flipper machines, records, CDs, DVDs, food court, 1950s clothes (coming over from Germany) and barber shop for the ladies. At around 7pm as the sun sets, the evening will come to life with the sounds of the talented live bands including The Truly Love Trio (US), The Roommates (UK), Danny & the Chicks (GER), The Nymonics (GER), Freddy Velas & the Silvertones (I), The Velvet Candles (Spain), Frankie Dean (UK), C-Sides (Surf music) and Cyprus’ very own The Xiles.
Consisting of three expats, two from the UK and one from Sweden, the rockabilly trio Xiles are regular performers both in Larnaca and Limassol. Ian Gupe, the singer and double bass player of the band, is a 1950s ‘passionista’. With quiffed hair and 50s style clothes, Ian confesses “I love everything about the 50s: the music, the style and clothes. My wife goes out every day looking like Doris Day,” he laughs. However, he admits that there isn’t really a retro movement in Cyprus “we try to be as animated as we can. There’s a demand for the band here because we’re different. There are lots of people who love the music but do not partake in the style or fashion of the era.”
Markus, who moved to Cyprus two years ago after visiting the island for a holiday and decided to stay, is hoping that the festival can help change this. His ‘disease’ as he calls it for the era, all began as a seven-year-old when he fell in love at first sight with a jukebox during a family dinner in a restaurant in Germany. Eleven years later he purchased his first one. In 1992, he met and teamed up with a Jukebox dealer from Berlin creating The Jukin 50’s. “There’s no real retro sub culture in Cyprus. It seems that people are not big fans of joining networks. For example, my friend from Nicosia has a collection between 70 -90 juke boxes, complete with good conditioned iconic Wurlitzer jukeboxes but no one knows about it really; so he’s exhibiting some of them at the festival” states Markus.
Jukebox hobbyist Antonis Mylonas began collecting in 1978 and bought his first Jukebox aged 22. His prized possession is a very rare 1942, 950 Wurlitzer that plays 24 discs at 78rpm. “I have jukeboxes from 1936 – 1983 all in working order, its a weakness of mine that I’ve had since a small child when I didn’t even have coins to be able to listen to them,” reminisces Antonis.
But its not all about the jukeboxes, the driving passion behind the German festivals, are the vintage cars. “The furthest distance that I know a vintage car travelled to go to my festival was approximately 1,000km, a 1959 Cadillac from Vienna. There’s around 1,200 vintage cars in Cyprus some of which will be driven to the festival, there’ll be Mustangs from Limassol and Nicosia, Corvettes from Larnaca, Cadillacs and others,” says Markus. His own 1958 Cadillac will be present. In Germany many attend the festival, bringing their vintage cars; this is an aspiration he has for the coming years of the festival here in Cyprus.
“This is the festival’s first year, if it takes off, I will make it bigger for the years to come, for now, it’s a space to enjoy the great music and retro vibes by the beach,” smiles Markus.
The Jukin Cyprus
Free entry for two passengers per vintage car (for EU cars before 1969 and US cars before 1979). Adults without vintage vehicle pay €16 per day or €43 for the three days. Children under 18 go in free. www.thejukin50s.club, www.facebook.com/The-Xiles-147420635414766/