Žižkov Reloaded

Freezing your club off

Klub Matrix

Koněvova 13, Praha 3

In five years, when Žižkov's brandnew Klub Matrix is a well-established venue, it will be interesting to note that before it was a Prague institution, it was a freezer. Built in the early-20s, the structure that now houses the new club was an underground refrigeration unit designed to store food for the entire area. Coincidentally, after 80 years, it's this very detail that will allow the Matrix to disregard all local noise ordinances when it finally opens its doors on May 10. Insulated with a layer of cork 20 cm thick all the way around, the Matrix has permission from the city to play music as loud as they want as late as they want.

Six months ago, owner Martin Vaníček was busy fixing up and getting rid of several of his urban spaces when he began to have second thoughts about selling his enormous icebox in Žižkov, realizing it had the potential for something special. Through the advice of friends, he brought in a young promoter, Mike Tuma, who was able to talk Vaníček out of turning the space into a Herna bar, convincing him to create a club worthy of the scene Tuma visualized for the city.

Tuma seems the perfect personality for the task of turning a refrigerator into a nightclub. His track record for event production and promotion, working under his trademark, Badpoint, is evidenced by ties to bands, DJs and events in Prague's most popular live music venues, including Akropolis and XT3. For the last five months, he's been zealously shaping the program and promotions for the Matrix to pave the way to a new club scene.

Aside from the obvious correlation between the opening of this club and the upcoming summer release of the sequel to 1999's blockbuster film, there's nothing remotely Cartesian about the strategy Tuma has for the Matrix. His idea is simply to attract as many types of people as possible with a fun, comfortable atmosphere and a wide array of music, arguing that the Matrix philosophy of highly diverse live musical offerings is the only of its kind in present-day Prague. "The smaller clubs can't afford the bands," says Tuma, "while the big clubs close early and only do big business." Reminiscent of the Bunkr, an afterhours club shut down by zoning restraints five years ago, Tuma sees the Matrix as the late-night destination for anyone interested in a live experience outside the commercial mainstream clubs.

Even in the first week, the schizophrenic schedule ranges from an opening night of jungle music headlined by Bass Beast to a weekend showcasing, among other things, a tribute to ‘80s German new wave. Included in the week's mix is Bunkr remnant DJ Pancor, scheduled to play regular gigs at Matrix, blessing the new club with the spirit of the old scene.

The only thing left now as evidence of the space's former life is the dusty old Škoda turbine that for decades generated power for the fridge. After remodeling and stripping the basement of its frozen ghosts, the club is now lined with plush new leather booths and a large stage and DJ stand at one end of the long and spatial main room. At 350 square meters, the room can hold up to 600 people, according to Tuma, who points out the remodeling process will continue through the summer, adding several auxiliary rooms and increasing the capacity. The unnervingly low ceiling is the only thing that makes one feel in the least bit like they're trapped in the crisper, seemingly limiting live sets to short DJs only.

Jerry Pyle is plugged in at [email protected]

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