U.K. DJ and producer Blawan was unable to return to Berlin following his New Years Eve performance at Kiev club ∄. He posted about the dilemma on social media, drawing scrutiny from electronic music enthusiasts wary of large gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Blawan (real name Jamie Roberts), LOT Polish Airlines allowed him to purchase a ticket to a flight but then refused to let him board. Their reasoning, he said via Instagram Story, was that the plane would stop for a layover in Poland, an EU country. U.K. citizens are generally allowed to visit most European countries as tourists under the Brexit restrictions that went into effect January 1st, and a petition is underway to grant traveling artists visa-free permits.
“Your staff were rude. I bought a new ticket you saw my U.K. passport you took my money then immediately refused to give me a boarding pass because of Brexit,” wrote Roberts. “Disgusting. I have legal right to travel freely in Europe until June 2021 clearly you under train your staff.”
Not all who saw Roberts’ Instagram Story were sympathetic. Leipzig DJ and producer FMT-1 responded, “Playing a gig during a pandemic while thousands of people die and then cry that you can’t fly home? Pathetic.”
Roberts shared a screen shot of the interaction and then defended himself in a subsequent Instagram Story. He wrote, “To people sending me MSG’s that I’m a disgrace and disgusting for playing a show. Just so I don’t have [to] give you the venom back. I will not apologize. I’m not sorry. The party was absolutely fucking fire. You know nothing of my circumstances so keep it to yourself.”
January 3rd 2020 pic.twitter.com/QAQaf6qWnk
— Business Teshno (@businessteshno) January 3, 2021
According to a Resident Advisor listing, Roberts was one of 13 artists billed for the New Years gathering at ∄. Adiel, Cromby, Freddy K, Gael, Nastya Vogan, Nene H, Recid, Rene Wise, Sally C, Sedef Asi, TITIA and VTSS also appeared on the lineup.
COVID-19 cases in Ukraine peaked in late November, but daily counts have continued to range from 4-10,000 for the first week of January. Over 1 million cases have been confirmed since the pandemic started with nearly 20,000 resulting deaths.