As a child in her free time, she used to go to ballroom dance classes, computer clubs, learn martial arts, play in the neighbourhood and organise fashion shows and neighbourhood parties. At the age of around 7-8, kids of different ages in her apartment block organised the fashion shows. During the fashion shows, girls dressed up and boys from the ‘hood’ - ‘dvorovye pacany’ - joined. She enjoyed organising those events as they had a space for themselves and it was fun. Children would put small blue plastic chairs outside for children to sit on. For the girls participating in a fashion show, the change room was organised in the space underneath the stairs. She remembers wearing her favourite red t-shirt with pockets for one of the shows. The kids occupied communal areas and for the time of their shows those areas were ‘theirs’ as they served as the backstage. Fashion shows were joyful events, as the whole apartment block could have some fun together and there was a community spirit.
At a later age, those communal areas: ‘dvory’ and ‘pod’ezdy’ were still important for her and her friends. When she was around 10 years old, she continued to participate in social events with the neighbours and she co-organised neighbourhood parties. A ‘dvor’/’hood’ party was a small group gathering with friends who lived in the apartment block. The first three blocks of flats were provided by the Academy of Sciences to their employees, so the families from those flats knew one another as parents were scientists in different disciplines. It was a very diverse and multicultural environment. She remembers that there were German families, mixed families of Russian, Ukrainian and Greek ethnic backgrounds. However, any kid from the block could attend the ‘hood’ party, regardless whether they lived in that particular block of flats or not. The discos or the parties were fun events. During those parties, guys used to play guitar, singing Viktor Tsoy songs while girls were listening or simply were ‘hanging out’. On some days the kids were hanging out only in corridors and once again used the communal areas as ‘theirs’.
Those get-together parties were self-organised and mostly occurred in the evening. In summer the ‘get togethers’ happened outside and in autumn or winter inside the communal areas of the apartment blocks or inside the apartments. If they were lucky, they could go to somebody’s apartment: have tea, snacks, homemade cake or drinks and listen to the music. When it was her turn to host such a ‘house party’, she organised a disco with her older sister. As they lived on the first floor, they would put a small black CD player out of their window and they would play some music for people in their ‘dvor’/’hood’.
The fashion shows and the parties were very vibrant and joyful events where kids from many ethnic backgrounds enjoyed dancing, hanging out and listening to music together.