Young Oliver Dragojević and Dalmatian Klapa Music: Vela Luka in the 80s (Video)

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Summer on Korčula, 40 years ago.

A couple of days ago, we presented you with a delightful vintage promotional video for Selce town. The footage was a perfect display of the Mediterranean as it once was, to quote the famous – and dearly missed – Croatian tourism slogan. This week, the Mediterranean experience gets even more authentic in another lovely video filmed in the early 80s in Vela Luka, a town located on the western side of Korčula island.


The video was dug up from the archives of Television Belgrade by film editor Dejan Urošević, who describes himself as enamoured of the sea. He told he loves to explore video archives to help save traditional Dalmatian customs from oblivion.


The 10-minute documentary is best described as an ode to Dalmatian music, be it a capella singing or traditional folk melodies. And for the initial surprise, the video opens with a young Oliver Dragojević crooning a classic Dalmatian tune, soon joined by an entire klapa.


The song becomes a backdrop to the voiceover telling a story about Vela Luka, a town “surrounded by vineyards, fruit orchards and pine trees, and populated by hospitable folks”.


At that time, Dragojević wasn’t such a household name as today. Born in Vela Luka 70 years ago, the Croatian music icon spent the period between 1967 and 1972 performing at clubs in various western European countries, practising his craft. Fame followed, but he has always remained keen on joining his friends in song. Apart from the great Oliver, the video also features klapa groups Hum, Vela Luka and Ošjak; we also get to see a traditional dance performed by members of the Folklore Society Mafrina, clad in beautiful folk costumes.


A lot has changed since the 70s, and not only for the better. As it’s stated in the video, Vela Luka used to have a population of 5.000, whereas today it only counts 4.000 residents. Some facets of the local economy have also turned for the worse: back in the 70s, the fish cannery Jadranka employed some 200 people in Vela Luka. Jadranka had operated for 114 consecutive years before it was taken over by a bank in 2007.


Not the most uplifting of facts, but to be fair, it’s hard to lament the fall of local industries while such soothing, mellow tunes are playing in the background. And those shots of the riva lined with palm trees, bobbing little boats, patches of pine forest you simply know are buzzing with the chirp of crickets… it’s almost too much to take. Travel back in time with the video below:



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