Roxy turns twenty-three

Club Roxy 23rd Birthday Celebrations 19th till 24th October

It’s been twenty-three years of shut-downs, reconstructions, and great music, but Roxy/NoD, Prague’s premier hotspot for underground electronic music on Dlouhá Street, is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Art Deco building that Roxy has occupied since 1992 was built during the First Republic. It opened in 1927 as a cinema, but was closed during the Second World War. Under communism, it was used as a warehouse and then as a studio for the university, but quickly fell into disrepair.

“Nothing really happened after the Velvet Revolution,” Daniel Bacho, Roxy’s PR man tells me. “No one really took care of culture. So there was a foundation, the Linhart Foundation. They were people who were enthusiastic about culture who were pushing the Town Hall and the Ministry of Culture in 1990, 1991, to take care of the venues that were abandoned. They did demonstrations in Old Town Square, they went to the Church of Saint Nicholas, they rented the stairs, and they put up a stage and were running parties with DJs and bands and said they weren’t going to leave until they did something about famous venues like Roxy, Rock Café, all of these places.

“Roxy was opened in 1992. It was opened as a club, but times were different then – they weren’t sure what was going to work. They maybe had a concert one day, an exhibition the next, but they didn’t really have style yet.

“The electronic music scene was in Holešovice in a club called Bunker. Then Bunker was closed, and they took this scene to Roxy. It was very underground, very dirty, because they didn’t have as much money to make it as nice as it is today. Then they rented the place above, which became NoD.”

In the years that followed, Roxy’s profile grew, bringing many now-household names to Prague and creating a vibrant music scene in the city. Then, five years ago, the club was shut down after a new renovation did not comply with building regulations. Following a long dispute, an agreement was made, and the club was able to reopen. Since then, it has gone through heavy renovations to both preserve and improve on its classic design. The grittiness may be long gone, but the underground spirit still thrives.

So: what is Roxy’s role in the Prague music scene?

“The role of Roxy is to show international independent culture to Czech people,” Daniel tells me without hesitation, before adding, “Everyone plays in Roxy before they get famous.”

As for the future of Roxy, anything could be in store, but Daniel tells me that they plan to keep going on in the same style: bringing the best in independent culture to Prague, and offering a stage to talented newcomers.

“I think we focus nowadays more on electronic styles which are going on in Spain, in Britain, and Berlin. We have some connections with people who travel around and go to concerts and check what’s going on and we bring these projects to the Czech Republic for the first time. So you can see names you don’t even know yet, but in one or two years are going to be well-known.

“Bringing new names from abroad and helping new young talent come up...that’s what we do. And maybe they will come back to Roxy when they are famous, maybe not. But that is our attitude.”

Roxy is celebrating their 23rd anniversary with a week-long series of events. For a full program, see their website.

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