How young Serbs rocked the castle

The Exit festival in Novi Sad began as a massive political protest. Radio 1's Annie Nightingale joined the throng this year

Held in the stunning Petrovaradin fortress, on a hill above the Danube, it hosted The White Stripes, Underworld and Fatboy Slim - and 50,000 ecstatic fans from all over the Balkans. They ringed the ramparts, moshed in the moat and crammed into 20 mini-arenas offering everything from drum'n'bass, reggae, rock and techno to jazz. Exit is now the largest festival in South-east Europe.

That's no mean feat for an event that began as a student protest again Slobodan Milosevic. Stars now flock to join the celebration of freedom by playing at Exit, among them Iggy Pop, Massive Attack and Cypress Hill. This year, Norman Cook said after playing to the packed crowd: "I have never been to Serbia before. The audience seemed the most up-for-it I've played to in the world, fresh and unjaded. I heard good things about Exit from other DJs. It's word-of-mouth recommendation, and that counts for a lot."

Carl Cox, who also played this year, said: "I heard of Exit from Pete Tong. He raved about it. I've played in Eastern Europe before, but not Serbia. Now it's their time to see acts like Underworld and Garbage." This year, Radio 1 covered Exit for the first time.

For me, broadcasting from Exit brought back memories of a visit I made to Eastern Europe, to Romania in 1990, after the long years during which the dictatorships shared a suspicion and hatred of Western rock and dance music. On that visit to Timisoara, just over the Romanian border from Novi Sad, the audience went nuts in a frenzied appreciation of music they'd been denied for so long.

Milosevic's regime was not as musically hard-line, but it wasn't welcoming. Fortunately, help was at hand in the shape of B92, the sort of idealistic pirate radio station broadcasters drool over. It doesn't claim to have brought Milosevic down, but its DJs encouraged demonstrations, played rebel music and exhorted the young to vote.

B92 started life in 1989 with a two-week licence, but just carried on. It was raided, taken off the air, reinstated, shut down again. Milosevic's aides termed its broadcasters "spies and terrorists". But, on B92, a generation of Serbs got to hear Clash-tastic music.

So, after Nato bombed Novi Sad in 1999, the youth of Serbia were ready to retaliate - with a 100-day protest party. Exit was born, bringing in musicians and DJs, holding parties on the river, around the castle and on boats.

Exit has now been whittled down to a more manageable four days. Radio 1 brought four shows to broadcast for the first time this year: myself, Annie Mac, Fabio and Gilles Peterson. The station's executive producer of live events, Jason Carter, said: "It felt the right time to introduce this event to a much wider UK audience."

This year the event earned its stripes in another way. Huge lightning storms raged above the castle, though the music totally drowned out the thunderclaps. Torrential rain drenched the crowd, and talk turned to that Glasto favourite - how to cope with the mud.

Annie Nightingale is on Thursday nights/Friday mornings, 1am-3am on Radio 1, and online at www.bbc.co.uk/radio1

Arts and Entertainment
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea