Armenia / Iran: Banned live music thrives in neighbouring country

30 March 2011
During the Persian New Year holidays, posters advertising concerts by banned Iranian musicians can be seen all over Yerevan, capital of the ex-Soviet republic Armenia, reported AFP.

More than 20,000 Iranians come to celebrate Nowruz, New Year, in Armenia, and tickets for Nowruz concerts featuring Iranian singers in Yerevan can cost as much as 70 US dollars (49 euros) – a significant sum in this small, impoverished country. Several pop stars will give concerts in Yerevan’s biggest indoor sports arenas.

The AFP article by Mariam Harutunian describes how Iranian boys in jeans and girls in short dresses lose themselves in the rhythms of their idols, swaying to the beat and mouthing lyrics which are banned in their home country.

“Singers who are not allowed to play live in Iran entertain their fans every year at the Sport-Concert Complex in neighbouring Armenia – a relatively liberal Christian country which is attracting increasing numbers of tourists from the Islamic republic during the Persian new year festival of Nowruz,” wrote Mariam Harutunian.

“We love these singers so much, but they are banned in Iran,” 21-year-old student Milad Alizadeh told the reporter: “We love pop music and listen to it in our homes and cars, but not in public places.”

The influx of Iranian tourists, which began in earnest two years ago, may not be massive by international standards but it creates a logistical headache for Armenian travel agencies grappling with a lack of accommodation and other underdeveloped tourism infrastructure, reported Hasmik Smbatian for the Armenian paper Azatutyun. All Yerevan hotels have already booked practically in full for the two weeks, forcing them to accommodate many visitors in private apartments or small hotels outside the city.


Read the articles

AFP – 29 March 2011:

‘Iranians enjoy holiday freedoms in Christian Armenia’

Azatutyun – 22 March 2011:

‘Iranians Flock To Armenia On Nowruz Holiday’

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