He and fellow party organizer Tamara, 24 — who declined to give her last name out of security fears because she is an active service member — explained that many of the revelers were military personnel on leave, and the event had been held early to allow them to celebrate the new year with their families.
The timing was also set to comply with a strict curfew of 11 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET), that will be in place when the clock strikes midnight.
“The purpose of this event, first of all, is to let people rest a bit before the new year. It’s primarily for the servicemen and women to have a good time, and also a form of gratitude to them,” Tamara said.
In a nod to the party’s patriotic underpinnings, the raving paused at one point for a blast of Ukraine’s national anthem.
Tamara said she was set to be deployed near the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where months of brutal fighting has seen Ukrainian forces hold up Russian efforts to advance.
She bristled at the idea that she and fellow revelers were able to party while others fought on the front lines because the conflict had somehow become normalized.
“This war is actually not almost a year old, it’s actually eight years old,” Tamara said, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and backing of breakaway forces in other parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014.
“For me and most of my friends nothing changed drastically after the full-scale invasion, because we were fighting even earlier,” Tamara said. “I was always afraid of war, but there’s a proverb — if you want peace, you have to be ready to fight for it.”
Outside of clubs and private parties, New Year’s celebrations will be largely set aside for a more solemn evening in Ukraine.
Russia launched a new barrage of missiles at the capital and other cities on Saturday, killing at least 1 person after weeks of attacks on energy targets that have forced outages and left millions without water or electricity through the winter.
“This time, Russia’s mass missile attack is deliberately targeting residential areas, not even our energy infrastructure. War criminal Putin “celebrates” New Year by killing people,” said Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on Twitter. Russia has denied targeting civilians.