Vintage skis, historic bicycles and antique gowns. This society returns the beauty of the old times to Ostrava and elsewhere.

They profess grace, elegance and active lifestyle, they love vintage skis and historic bicycles. On Saturday 11 January 2020, they organized the 9th season of the Czech International Vintage Ski Championship, which took place in the Beskids for the first time. For the beginning of February, they have scheduled a vintage ball entitled Elegant, this year in white and gold. A big dance orchestra playing in a beautifully decorated ballroom, a cotillion dance, a flower dance and a café designed in a style of the First Czechoslovak Republic – all that will create a perfect dance ball of the old times. Their name is Elegant Sports and Culture Society, and they hope that the people of Ostrava might share their fascination with the inter-war period and appreciate its relevance for the present day. In the following interview, the Elegant Society’s plans and ambitions are described by its founding member, Karin Raszková.

The Czech International Vintage Ski Championship was the first event of the Elegant Society, wasn’t it?

The very first event was the exhibition entitled The Phenomenon of Cycling in the Ostrava Museum; then we organised Retro Artistic Cycling, which took place as part of the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Ostrava. Thus, the Czech International Vintage Ski Championship in Mosty u Jablunkova was our third project. Although it was already the 9th season, the championship took place in the Beskids for the first time. Previous seasons were organised by our friends from Eagle Mountains (Orlické hory), whom we admire not only on the slopes for their beautiful telemark skiing, but also for their unbelievable enthusiasm. These skiers have restored the traditional Eagle Mountains folk costume and revived the local folk handicraft of making skis from ash wood (called “jasanky”), they even ventured beyond the polar circle on such ash skis… And then we wanted to introduce our fellow skiers from Giant Mountains (Krkonoše), Eagle Mountains and from other places to the breath-taking beauty of the Beskids and the local living folklore, which is dear to me, especially when it comes to the area of Těšín Silesia. It is also favourable for us that the current trend of the Moravian-Silesian Region is to strongly support new forms of tourism, whether culture- or sports-based. Correspondingly, the Czech International Vintage Ski Championship provides an original synthesis of sports, crafts and folklore.

But you focus on the cycling as well, don´t you?

That´s right. Since we come from Ostrava, we want to promote the idea of city bikes as much as we can. We are preparing a project entitled Cycling Trips, which combines culture, history and sports. In collaboration with bike-sharing projects in Ostrava, we will offer the people of Ostrava and the citys visitors the opportunity to actively spend their free time, to explore the history of the city, and to visit cultural events. In June, we will hold a big race entitled Elegant Silesia. The participants will cycle on pre-1990 bikes with steel frames without carbon fibre parts and they will be able to choose between two beautiful routes with the length of 160 km and 80 km. These kinds of races and trips are very popular around the world. This is going to be the first championship of such scale ever organised in the Czech Republic and we have really high ambitions. We want to create a new phenomenon of a race on historic bicycles and thus celebrate the roots of cycling as a sports activity. We hope that this will attract participants from the whole of Europe. Our region is just marvellous, full of historic and natural sites. Moreover, the mountainous landscape is perfectly suitable for holding such a unique race. So, we go for it!

We are vintage lovers, our motto is: “Gentility and elegance benefit both the individual and the society, they suit everybody and are pleasant to live with.” We decided to design our activities in the spirit of this motto. We like an active lifestyle, history and culture, which we combine in such a way as to create beautiful and original projects.

Is your passion for the old times suitable for the rough character of the Moravian-Silesian Region?

Of course, it is suitable for every region. It is good to find your own lifestyle because it enables you to find your unique self, to gain self-confidence, to refine your taste and determine the direction of your life. We like the old times and we like to seek their relevance for the present day. All of this gives rise to a beautiful living space, which is full of original ideas in everything that we do.

When was the Elegant Society founded? And what are its plans?

It was founded last year, but we had been aware of the great potential hidden within our hobbies, our professional skills, and our adventurous tempers for some time already. The Elegant Society arose spontaneously, almost by coincidence, from the circumstances of our lives. We do what we like: hold races on vintage bikes and historic skis, organise exhibitions and cultural events… We are also working on setting up Café Elegant and a collection of historic city bicycles entitled Elegant Special.

Do you intend to open a brick-and-mortar café?

No, we don´t. We like change; therefore, we invented an itinerant café. Café Elegant is meant to be ever-changing, surprising the visitors with a new interior and an original menu every time. We intend to adjust the café to every particular event and we are really looking forward to it.