August 2, 2021

“I feel fucked”: the day the techno revolt of Georgian youth got out of hand

Thursday 2 p.m.. Yesterday evening, leaders of associations announced, at a press conference, the cancellation of the gatherings scheduled for today on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. They have received serious threats and do not want to relive the events of 2013 during which a counter-demonstration had degenerated into a real manhunt. In the company of Gia, a writer who, for twenty years, has participated in all the events in favor of a more open society, we attend the demonstration of force that the Orthodox Church operates in the avenue Roustaveli, the largest artery of Tbilisi.

« How many are they ? 10,000, 15,000? For a few years now, they have decided that today would be family day. They are afraid. They see that the country is shaking “. In fact, the Church plays different music as it passes Parliament. Hymns, accordions, polyphonic songs, remixes of popular songs, icons carried at arm’s length by children form the decorum. The tone of speeches and faces is not aggressive, but a group catches Gia’s attention. ” There, it is the group of neo-Nazis who circulate in the city for a week. We don’t know where they came from. When they came on Sunday to try to confront us, we were surprised by their number. We knew that there were extreme right-wing groups. But 500 people at once? Without being worried by the police? For me, there is something wrong. We let them do it and someone supports them. Is it the Russians who finance them to create tensions? I do not know. It looks like it. But we also need to question ourselves. We have posters of The Clash or Che in our rooms, but when there are 500 fascists who show up while us, there are 15,000 of us, we stand at a distance, we ask the police to protect us. Is that fighting for your freedom?»

Thursday 7 p.m.. After passing an imposing security cordon, Tika and I join the hundred or so LGBTQ activists who have nevertheless decided to demonstrate in front of an administration building. Other actions take place, in small groups, all over the city. Tika is 22 years old, studies management and is one of those young people who save weeks to attend the sets of this or that DJ in a club in Tbilisi. During the demonstration last Saturday, she was behind the cash register of a mini-market, one of her four odd weekly food jobs, essential for her economic survival and that of her family. “As soon as I had 5 minutes, I followed the Facebook live. It was unbelievable. The next day, I decided not to go to work. I wanted to demonstrate. Today, I am here with the same idea. But it’s very annoying to see all these politicians here. Look, there are at least 10 known politicians out there!»

A few meters from us, a young man jumps on the LGBTQ activist who is making a speech and punches him in the face with a series of punches, then runs off. A large crowd of people tries to catch him. An ambulance arrives. The police arrest the man who had infiltrated the rally. Tika is paralyzed. “You see, some say we play with fire. But we are not the ones who play. We live … It drives me crazy. There is a political game, I’m sure. I’m not really a conspirator, but how do you explain that on the very day that a prominent Georgian politician, supporter of firmness, returns to politics, there is a police raid on Bassiani and the Café Gallery? I’m wondering. We know very well that the mayor of Tbilisi(and former AC Milan player, editor’s note)Kakhaber Kaladze defends more or less our values, that he defends the clubs, our way of life. He even created a night economy department in his administration. We also know that former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili risks being his main opponent in the next elections. And we are in the middle of this game, like pawns».


Friday 11 p.m.. 35 kilometers from Tbilisi, after having traveled a long dirt track, appears the former Soviet space base of Saguramo. In the middle of rusty antennas, observation buildings and wrecked research machines, thousands of clubbers roam from one track to another, on the occasion of the 4GB festival. For two consecutive weekends, Salomé celebrates her birthday with her friends to the sound of dozens of DJs, Ricardo Villalobos or her two favorite Georgian producers, Zitto and Hamatsuki. Salomé manages a small club in the Vake district of Tbilisi and lives the events of this week with cold blood. “When we learned what was going on at Bassiani and at Café Gallery, we really believed that the police were going to come to our house as well. We turned everything off, closed everything, and we went directly to Bassiani to see what was happening. Since then, we’ve been a little scared, but we’re in the street ».

Salomé never got involved in an association or for a party. But there, she feels the need. The week was punctuated by urban legends and conspiracies. She also saw the blooming of inappropriate interventions on social networks, such as that of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s son, rapper Bera, who, after accusing the clubs of being places of dealings, published on the day of the second demonstration a very timely “legalize-itOn his Facebook page. This immediately created a rumor implying that the former prime minister would like to promote the legalization of cannabis and develop its cultivation in his region of origin.

Salomé is more down to earth. “Do you know what all these politicians are doing? They hesitate between two positions, and play with us. On the one hand, I think they want to politicize the night more than it is. They want to give Bassiani and certain places a strong symbolic value. They want to make believe that these are places of political opposition which can destabilize Georgia, and therefore which can weigh on their small affairs. But on the other hand, they want to depoliticize the night, they want to close places that express themselves too much on social issues to keep only a few neutral discos, tourist clubs. They want to close the places that inspire us and make us think ».

Trax 212, June 2018