‘The Turn’ Chapter 2 : “Reform for Change”

This week’s chapter of ‘The Turn’ features a brief examination into the current rave revolution taking place in Georgia’s state capital, Tbilisi. 


“Not every revolution in history has been violent nor does it have to be.

The intellectual and industrial revolutions that have span centuries began with an idea that transversed and encouraged peaceful reform. Today, reform is ever changing. From a growing decentralized digital sphere to a newly established legal stance on sports’ gambling, reform is in a constant state flux. But culture, a universal human right, still suffers from oppression. Oppression, historically speaking, has carried a violent component. There is, however, a silver lining. The drawing and redrawing of lines over time have done more than redistribute ‘landscapes’, they have given birth to profound movements. When people responded, the movement’s began to tip.

Last weekend, Georgian police raided 2 popular nightclubs including Tbilisi nightclub, Bassiani. As part of the governments’ recent anti-drug crackdown, police armed with automatic weapons and excessive force subjected clubgoers to an unwarranted search and seizure assault. The raw video footage of the incident was unsettling and revealed how the frenzy of activity left patrons stunned and terror-stricken. Subsequently, many have argued the motive for the raid was, in reality, a misguided and veiled effort to crack down on local nightlife.

Despite Georgia’s ’21’st century state’ status, parts of it remain stuck in it’s not too distant communist past. It wasn’t until 2003 that Georgia began a democratized era with the new generation ushering in a more enlightened period. However, the Orthodox Church and right winged factions of the government still retain a deep level of control. That ideological influence has set forth a conflict between the conservative (traditionalist side) and the young thriving liberal generation. Sadly, between the government’s draconian zero-tolerance drug policy and rampant homophobia, it leaves much to be desired. 

Other cities around the world have experienced their own cultural revolutions. The UK Acid House revolution during the 80′ and early 90’s. The Berlin wall being torn down and a rebellious techno scene being erected to challenge the status quo. The socioeconomic clashes and exclusionary behavior in Detroit that brought forth a tough and raw sound to combat the oppressive climate. The list goes on, but regardless of its place and participants, the theme of reform remains unchanged.

Cultural battles, more often than not, are almost born out of necessity. To spur a movement, and to give integrity as well as meaning to the cause. Oppression is obstruction. It aggressively threatens to delegitimize a movement. It surfaces from a place of fear. Fear that ideologies will be lost, agenda’s would be destroyed, and the people it attempts to control would be able to dictate their own identities.

In the case of the Bassiani raid, the state made a critical self-inflicted error. They underestimated and failed to recognize how history can repeat itself. Moreover, they underestimated the Georgian people. Thousands of club goers and scene activists, known as the White Noise Movement, reformed as a ‘peaceful rave’ in front of the cities’ parliamentary building.

The demonstration, like so many in the past, shows how a collective idea and belief as important as ones cultural identity can conquer and overcome an oppressive ideology. The power is in the voice of the people, their volume, and the artists who work tirelessly to retain what is inherently theirs. Since the protests, the government has publically acknowledged the controversy surrounding the raid and is now proactively seeking to establish a dialogue with all parties involved.

My hope is that the people of Georgia, the brave and talented youth, the government, and the state as a whole begin a forward motion to unify and support each other. Any cultural revolution worth fighting for, regardless of where it is fought, will inevitably experience these types of phases. But that is what it is, a phase. The scene and culture always come out on the other side. It will be stronger, more resilient and it will proudly claim a genuine identity. It becomes a profound movement. “

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