The culture of techno and rave parties has always been concentrated in specific cities – Leipzig, Warsaw, and Belgrade. Now Tbilisi has joined this list of famous techno music heroes: according to the techno community, it takes the leading position and “overtakes” even Berlin, the former rave capital. Georgian techno parties received special attention in 2018 when ten thousand people staged a large-scale rave in front of the Tbilisi parliament on May 12 to protest police violence.
The episode was one of the key events in the recent history of Georgian techno. After these events, Stepan Polivanov, a filmmaker, made a film about them, Raving Riot.
Residents of Tbilisi believe that the popularity of techno has to do with the country’s difficult history, and it began when Georgia took a European course of development after a poor and difficult period – the nineties.
“If you look at Georgia’s very complicated history, you can see that the local mentality is associated with struggle, with constant wars, and accordingly, this is associated with heavier music and rituals around it,” Sandro Guluhia, a raver, techno enthusiast.
Clubs: Khiladi and Bassiani
A big part of this theme is given to the giant clubs, Khiladi and Bassiani. Khiladi, founded in 2016, is also home to a contemporary art center. The club’s logo is 中 (translated from Chinese as “in”) and the club’s location is a bridge. “Khiladi” translates to that in Georgian. Bassiani has been open since 2014, is located in the stadium, and has one of the highest-quality sound systems in the city. Podcasts by guest DJs are posted on the club’s Soundcloud. And information about the techno community and other music events is covered in Facebook groups (recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation) – Khiladi Ravers, Georgian Ravers Community.
Although both clubs are very popular, these places are for different audiences – different music is played there. At Khiladi, it’s Ambient, Industrial, EBM, and sometimes Acid/Hard Techno, at Bassiani it’s Ghetto/Detroit Techno, Old/Classic Trance. There are also second stages with upbeat royalty free music from other genres in the clubs – Horoom (Bassiani) and G2 (Khiladi), where house and trance are often played. Also in Tbilisi, there are no less important techno culture venues – Drama Bar, Mtkvarze, and Café Gallery, where they raved until 2014. Now you can spend time there even on weekdays and discover some new styles.
“The first time I came to Club Bassiani. And I can’t explain it. I found myself there. Khiladi and Bassiani are incredible,” PROFESSOR GEORGE, DJ.
About the DJs and the audience
Tech-community in Tbilisi is friendly: DJs visit each other’s sets, get acquainted with each other’s repertoire, cooperate and make joint releases on different labels, and express their praise. The Georgian capital also has a well-developed system of music and deejaying education. Well-known schools and studios where DJs not only acquire knowledge but also simply meet each other – 303hz, 11th, CES, Khiladi Academy.
The same DJs and producers work in Tbilisi as they do in Berlin. It’s impossible to answer unequivocally whether it’s better there or in Georgia. But many confirm that against the backdrop of the growing momentum in Tbilisi, the clubs in their homeland look waning.
“There they see people who raved in the nineties, and here they see energetic young people. I have a pretty mature friend who flew around the world with her techno idol, SNTS, and got to us. People like that are shocked by our clubs, they see a spark here that is fading in Europe. The raves here don’t end in the morning, they last until the next night,” Sandro says.
The main audience of the raves in Tbilisi is progressive young people with freer views. The young generation gravitates toward Western culture and has a pronounced civic stance, strongly opposing geopolitical games.
“Everyone who loves electronic music wants to come and see the musical life of Tbilisi, to do something. I think Tbilisi is a musical city, we love and feel the music. We have a big music culture, young people have a taste” – PROFESSOR GEORGE, DJ.
Tech culture is developing in Tbilisi, you can find more and more guides “through the nightlife” of the Georgian capital and rave party guides with complete lists of clubs in Tbilisi. Freshmen are appearing in DJing, this sphere is actively replenished, and the music activity is relevant and promising. Tbilisi is rightly taking a leading place in the modern rave community.