Roxy 21st Anniversary
One of Prague’s most famous music venues and clubs will be celebrating its 21st anniversary
Roxy, one of Prague’s most famous music venues and clubs, will be celebrating its 21st anniversary with seven days of special events there and at experimental space NoD next door, from Monday 21st October. Originally opened back in 1928 as a movie theatre before turning into a music club, it wasn’t until 1992 and after the Velvet Revolution that it was revamped to how it is today.
“Roxy used to be a storeroom for the academy of art and it was quite devastated in the early 90's,” says Daniel Bacho, head of PR at Roxy. “The venue is very old but it is still the same design, the kind of optical style, and the feeling inside the building is the same, which makes it one of the most special venues in Prague.”
NoD next door shares the same building as Roxy and the two work in collaboration. With a bar and cafe, free art gallery, theatre and room for multimedia art, it provides an experimental space for other cultural aspects not available at the Roxy. It is slightly younger but when Roxy opened in 1992 there were events going on in NoD, just not under that name.
“NoD is as old as Roxy but was a kosher cafe before, as it is based in the Jewish quarter,” explains NoD’s head of PR Šarká Marouškouá. “In the communist era it worked as a bistro, a cheaper style of restaurant.”
Both places are getting involved in the 21st anniversary celebrations, with Roxy hosting seven different nights of music and NoD a mixture of special theatre performances, exhibitions, workshops and some music too. It kicks off on Monday 21st October with UK bass music collective Engine Earz Experiment at Roxy before five more days of live music until rapper turned singer-songwriter Everlast closes the celebrations on Sunday 27th October.
“The idea for Roxy is to bring in lots of different people in one week,” says Daniel. “We have hip-hop, a band, in Morcheeba and techno and house artists, so a mix of styles. This is for parents who grew up going to the Roxy and may not have been for a while to come back and see how it has changed over time. It is a present for those who come all the time but we also aim to bring in new and young people too. It’s not only our birthday but for all the fans of Roxy.”
That’s not the only present Roxy have lined up for their supporters. As well as the international acts that will be appearing, Wednesday is a special night dedicated solely to Czech live music. There will be 14 bands and resident DJs appearing across three stages, when for most other events there are only two. A third is likely to be added in the mezzanine and entrance is free. Regarding what the big event of the week is Daniel admits it’s hard to say as every day is unique, with it being down to the individual.
“You will see a different crowd here on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” he says. “The biggest concert is probably Morcheeba or Everlast though, as both have released new albums really recently. In terms of who people are talking about most, it’s probably Everlast as this is his first time playing solo in Prague. It’s going to be just him, acoustically, with a keyboard player.”
For NoD their opening ceremony with all the new art unveiled and VIPs is set to be a highlight, although with a week packed full of different events every day is special. Monday sees the start of three art shows featuring works by Czech artists on the theme of how horror connects with dark humour. It is also when a big art project will be displayed outside, hung above the street, much like they did for their 20th birthday last year with the big gold bone that now hangs above the bar. There will also be video mapping onto the front of the Roxy and NoD building.
“We have two Czech music concerts in the theatre from Vložte kočku on Friday, one of the most original bands around, and Monika Načeva and Justin Lavash on Saturday,” says Šarká. “Each day we have several outstanding multi-media or performance artists that start at 7pm and afterwards at 9pm we have theatre shows. Some of these are shows we don’t feature very often and a few are premieres.”
One of these premieres is Man Machine, a monumental puppet show based on the relationship between people and machines. Most of the theatre performances will be hard to understand for non-Czech speakers, but on Wednesday they have an English-friendly performance from the Spitfire Company, who earlier this year won an award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Then it all concludes with the chance for visitors to get involved.
“On Sunday we have a series of artist workshops from those with exhibitions in the gallery,” Šarká continues. “These will be fun activities for people and their families to create their own art, and it is all non-smoking.”
There have been a lot of changes to the Czech Republic in the last 21 years from when Roxy opened its doors, and this includes the clubbing and live music scene. Šarká and Daniel may not have been there at the beginning but are well aware of how things have developed over time.
“Nowadays is there are so many promoters and lots of new clubs opening all the time so it is hard for people to choose,” says Daniel. “There are more popular styles like drum and bass, but with maybe 15 good parties to choose from on a weekend it is hard to decide. Roxy is special as it is different. You have two floors, a mezzanine and it is very important to make people feel good in the club. But there are so many options that people are getting spoiled. Roxy can still have big concerts too but it was once that only a few artists visited Prague so when they came everyone went to see them.”
It’s not as difficult for NoD to get people in though, as it is also a bar and cafe alongside the free gallery with a broad range of visitors. In the near future they hope to keep growing and helping local artists by providing them with a platform.
“It is not something we need to make a profit on as we have a grant so can show whatever art we want to,” says Šarká. “You see people visiting who otherwise wouldn’t be interested. It’s cool because you can meet artists here who mingle with people visiting the theatre and it’s a really mixed group of people. We want to keep promoting NoD as a regular theatre venue and continue supporting young and performance artists by giving them space to put together new projects and show in front of people. We also want more crossovers, to continue in this line and mix theatre with art shows and performance concerts.”
After the celebration week is over both Daniel and Šarká are looking forward to a big sleep, but that’s not going to happen. Roxy has a few big gigs in November, with Sub Focus, Yellowcard, Tegan and Sara and Biffy Clyro all coming to the venue so Daniel is certainly going to be kept busy.
“The club scene here is getting too many things so you have to look for different styles,” says Daniel. “One new thing is electro swing, so this Saturday 19th October we have Electro Swing Fever with the idea to have it regularly, as this will be the first one. It connects people who don’t go to clubs but like to dance, the electro element mixed with the swing. It should bring a different crowd and atmosphere.
“We want to combine well known, quality music with new styles and provide something people don’t see in other places. Roxy hopes to be the top place in Prague for Czech people, expatriates and tourists. We want people to go home and tell their friends Roxy is the place to be.”
Watch a trailer for the 21st Anniversary event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNapWmI1c1I
For more information visit Roxy’s website: http://roxy.cz
And NoD’s website: http://nod.roxy.cz
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