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“Oh! I can’t stand it anymore! It’s the punks upstairs who are making all this noise! I’m going to call the police if it continues!”
Of course, it’s not me who said these words, but my neighbour. Or, I should put it in the plural and say “my neighbourS”. And if you’re like me and most of my rocker friends, you must have annoyed your neighbours with your loud music! And not just once!
For me, neighbour problems started very early, when I was a teenager. With my mother! I remember she used to tell me to turn it down. Yet at that time, I didn’t have high-performance equipment. But it was because of my big brother. He also annoyed our mother with his reggae music. Yes, my big brother, he was a “rasta” when he was a teenager. Frankly, I don’t know how I managed to get to know punk, with all the handicaps in my way. Because yes, in addition to having a ”rasta” for a big brother, I grew up in Nice, one of the worst cities in France when it comes to rock.
Anyway, so I annoyed my mother a few times.
Some time after my arrival in Paris, I equipped myself with two big speakers who spit decibels. It was at this point that I also expanded my collection of records (that I resold recently). It was also at this time that I met my noisy friends. They were scary too, but that’s another problem. And it was from then on that I started to play up and became a nuisance to my neighbours.
When I think about it, I tell myself that they had to suffer, because me and my friends, we didn’t care! The cops even came once or twice, but they were pretty cool, or maybe it was just that we didn’t provoke them … we had prohibited products in the flat.
However, once I attended a rather surreal scene. It was in Paris, I had been invited to a girl’s birthday, but I don’t know where. It was a long time ago, and I was a little too drunk. I even went home without my girlfriend that morning! I had lost her! But I remember that the neighbours had called the police and they arrived. It must have been 4 o’clock in the morning. And when they knocked on the door, those still at the party refused to open it, including me. Well, you’ll agree, it’s nothing serious.
It’s true. Nothing serious. But the stereo was still playing and no one was opening the door, so the cops understood that we were inside and started shouting through the door to open up. Once again nobody reacted, the music was screaming and the party was in full swing.
At the cops’ third attempt and at their insistence, a group of 4 or 5 guys went to the door, but instead of opening it, they started yelling insults at the cops. I can tell you that it rocked! The most vulgar insults were launched by these lads. An argument then began on both sides of the door. On the one hand, drunk and obscene punks, and on the other, cops, I guess who were disgusted at not being able to get their hands on these rascals. Because yes, we were rascals. We were about 20 years old. Ok, it’s a little too old for this behaviour, so I’ll say we were all young idiots, with nothing between the ears!
But as it wasn’t yet the legal time allowed for the police to enter flats, they had no choice but to leave. They left with their tails between their legs, as they say. And for us, the party continued until the early morning, when I took myself home by subway – without my girlfriend.
10 years later
At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the next, with my other half, we had a small bistro in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, and then a restaurant in Vincennes. And again, we pissed off our neighbours. Especially in our bar on Friday nights (we were closed on Saturdays) with our famous mussels and fries, paella or couscous, or just because it was Friday night! All our friends rushed from work, and ate, drank, sang, danced, and sometimes even slept! And the cops contacted us a few times … by phone! To ask us to make less noise. But they never visited us. Good!
20 years later
Cheryl and I arrived in Moscow in 2009, and we soon got to know FPG, a Russian punk-rock band from Nizhny Novgorod (нижний новгород).
Our friendship with them quickly developed, and our flat became their Moscow headquarters. From then on, when they played in Moscow, they squatted with us, with some of their friends.
Count how many pairs of shoes there are!
Do you wonder how Russians react to their neighbours late night parties? Well, pretty much like the French. They don’t like to be bothered by ugly punks and their wild music. But apparently, calling the cops is not their first reflex. They prefer to express their dissatisfaction in another very strange way.
Let me explain: here in Russia, the collective heating of apartments is provided by large cast iron radiators in which circulates heated water, which will burn your skin if you stick to it too long. It’s very effective in winter!
And this system of water circulation goes through a closed circuit of long cast iron pipes running from apartment to apartment. And to send a signal to their neighbours who make too much noise, Russians hit these pipes with a metal object. In general, a saucepan or a large kitchen utensil. Of course, this noise spreads to all the flats connected to the pipe that the angry person is hitting, but it’s infallible! Those who are making the noise understand instantly that they’re disturbing their neighbours, and generally lower the volume.
If, however you continue your noise, they call you on your landline. And they phoned us a few times!
And again, if you still don’t calm down, they get up and come knocking on your door and you explain yourself face-to-face. It never happened to us because we were told that our neighbours were afraid of us!
And finally, after all these attempts, if you really persist, they call the cops! Which hasn’t happened to us either, but apparently, if you don’t make fuss, the police are rather polite and they just ask you to make less noise. However, they sometimes give you a fine. A fine of 10 or 20 €, I believe.
Today, I can say that we are relatively calm. Our FPG buddies too. They don’t sleep at our home after their concerts in Moscow, anymore. Or sometimes just the singer. The others go home, find their family, their children. And yes, the years have passed, but we haven’t given up partying. If the opportunity arises, we’re ready, willing, and able!
In any case one thing is certain, if one day our young neighbours throw a party, I won’t complain, and will never complain! It’s true, after all the neighbours that I’ve pissed off, I don’t have the right!
And how did your neighbours react when you had parties? Report your achievements in the comments!
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