This city located 70 kilometers from the Polish border has been less exposed to Russian bombs than others, and its inhabitants, long-time or recent refugees, have not heard warning sirens for ten days.
Tasting this respite and thanks to the almost summery temperatures, young people came out in large numbers this weekend in its bars and restaurants, in search of a semblance of “normality”.
Seated at “People’s Place” with a glass of Spritz, Bohdan Charhoulenk, 25, savors the “calm” of Lviv, where he arrived a month ago after having lived through the hell of the bombings in Mikolaiv, near the line head on, in the South.
“It’s hard to live a normal life when you know that our friends are fighting against the Russian aggressor,” he said, drawing nervously on a cigarette. “But it’s important to party. It clears your mind.”
Since his arrival, he has found acquaintances from all over the country and has spent several evenings with them, in houses or apartments since the city is still under curfew from 11 p.m. “Once, I even danced to techno…”
Sitting a little further around a bouquet of tulips, Sofia Romanouik and Marta Iavorska, 24, are not there yet. The first, carefully made up and elegantly dressed, said she hadn’t washed her hair for days at the start of the Russian offensive at the end of February, she was so shocked.
“Psychologists say that the first 21 days of war are very hard to live with and that after that, you get used to it”, she says, explaining that she is now ready again to enjoy “the good things in life: a drink , a good meal”, but not yet to party.
– “I can’t do it” –
Just back from Warsaw, her friend Marta adds that in March, seeing Poles drinking alcohol, then banned in Ukraine, bothered her. Today, while the city of Lviv maintains the ban only for strong drinks, she toasts with Sofia. “We got used to war, it’s terrible… But at the same time, we have to go on living.”
Dima Dmitrenko, 25, “can’t do it”. Arriving from Karkiv, the big city in the East, the subject of fierce fighting, a month ago, he is sitting in a deck chair on the terrace. Far from relaxing, he works on his computer, “in the field of cryptocurrencies”, to continue to earn a living.
“Nothing is normal anymore. Nothing anymore. It’s terrible,” he confides, saying he is unable to live his youth.
Two weeks ago, he ventured into the basement of the bar, where a DJ mixes under a disco ball. “I saw a real party like there was in Kharkiv before the war, I tried to relax, but I couldn’t.”
Oksana Gariacha, 29, who has been working as a “hostess” at this bar since she fled kyiv, also doesn’t feel ready “to have a real big party, while people are dying”.
But the dance is sorely lacking in this salsa lover. “I hope that after the victory, we will dance every night until the early morning!”