Techno music and freedom of speech have both been put in the spotlight thanks to events taking place in Tbilisi, Georgia, ever since the police raided two of the city´s most popular nightclubs in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 12, sparking a very unusual protest on the steps of the nation´s Parliament building. What was seen at first as an operation against drug dealers, due to the deaths of several young people allegedly because of the use of drugs within the raided nightclubs, has revealed itself as a twisting, complicated tale of repression, intolerance, and cultural shock.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90´s, younger generations of Georgians found themselves turning away from communism, embracing techno music as a form of free speech and other progressive western values, thus creating a divide between the liberal and conservative sides of population, the latter of which rejected such values. This has resulted in friction over the years
The two clubs raided by police on May 12, Bassiani and Cafe Gallery, are both seen as bastions of freedom by locals, because of their LGTB-friendly attitude in a country where LGTB Georgians are still met with hostility. Bassiani is also related to the White Noise movement, which seeks the liberalization of Georgia´s drug legislation, so the dance culture sprouting in Tbilisi is perceived as a threat by the conservative side of Georgian society and by its government as well.
The May 12 raid is said to have been used as an excuse to intimidate club goers and to restrain the liberal and progressive thinking that dance culture is associated with in conservative Georgia, and it was answered with a massive protest the same day, which took place in the Tbilisi parliament building in the form of a huge rave. Protesters were confronted by Georgian nationalist radicals from the Georgian Civil Unity group, who showed up doing Nazi salutes, forcing authorities to evacuate the ravers by bus.
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Many DJs and producers from all over the world, like Nina Kraviz, DJ Nobu, Ellen Alien, Matrixxman and John Talabot among others, have expressed their support for the protesters, spreading the images from the protest all over social media.
So, controversy is served in this particular part of the world, where the remnants of the past still cling on to old ideas, trying to avoid the birth of new and freer ways of thinking. Change cannot be stopped by force, the young people of Tbilisi and Georgia, in general, want to be rid of the past and create a more tolerant and open-minded society, we sincerely hope the conservative part of the country is able to understand that and move beyond this ugly situation before any more violence occurs.
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