Dazed Digital Recaps Tbilisi’s Summer of Techno Protests

Fashion and culture magazine Dazed published an article Friday summarizing Tbilisi’s summer of protests and nightclub culture.

“The story of Tbilisi’s Bassiani nightclub reveals the complex relationship between the country’s police, drug laws, music scene, and LGTBQ+ youth,” opens the piece by Barclay Bram. It goes through the story of the night popular electronic dance club Bassiani was raided, on Saturday, May 12, from the perspective of that night’s DJ, HVL (Gigi Jikia).

Bram, however, dives further into the history of Tbilisi’s nightlife, attempting to untangle the web of events that led to the May 12 raids and subsequent protests. He asks, “How was it that Tbilisi – a city of less than one million people in a country buffeted by war, where the average monthly salary only just peaks above $400, where vegan restaurants get targeted by sausage-throwing ultra-conservative hooligans [that was only once], where LGBTQ+ lives are severely marginalized – was a place where electronic music had become so integral to the lives of some young people that they were willing to risk neo-Nazis and baton-wielding police to demand their right to it?”

One of Bassiani’s founders, Tato Getia, is quoted questioning why the Georgian government does not support the electronic music scene, maintaining that the clubs should be a source of pride. “Before… no one knew Tbilisi, no one had any idea what was happening in Georgia. Now, the world is aware of us and people come from all over to these clubs. And they still hit us here! Why?”

Bram goes through Georgia’s “draconian” drug laws, the pro-drug legalization movement White Noise, and the city’s attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community.

The very existence of radically inclusive dance clubs in the current political environment makes “clubbing in Tbilisi...inherently political,” Bram concludes.  

For the full article, titled How Techno Became the Sound of Protest in Georgia, click here.


By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Dazed Digital, Barclay Bram

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17 September 2018 09:19