When music itself becomes a kind of politics - more from Georgia, Ireland & Germany


We posted last week how "new Italians" were using pop music to defy growing ethnic intolerance in Italian society. Here's three more examples of how dance music - by virtue of the way it takes over public space in a joyous, collective manner - is lending itself to political struggles. 

Germany: Counter-protesters fight far-right with techno music

From the BBC: "Thousands of supporters of Germany's far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) marched on the streets of Berlin on Sunday. However, they were out-numbered, by five to one, with counter-protesters playing techno music to drown out the AfD supporters."

From the Guardian: "Rarely are clubbers, in this case many of whom had danced through Saturday night, so visible en masse in the daylight hours in Berlin – and rarely have they been so political. On Sunday, they spread across Berlin in collaboration with other protests against a considerably smaller far-right AfD rally that was taking place in the city centre.

It’s more than about just fighting for the right to celebrate, insists the Clubcommission’s Raimund Reintjes. “It’s about having a political bearing,” he told the online platform Ze.tt. “It’s about how we structure our societal togetherness, how we solve conflicts, which values we defend – on the dancefloor, in the park and on the streets of our cities.”

Berlin ravers protest against intolerance

Berlin ravers protest against intolerance

Ireland: Unfettered Irish dance to a brand new tune

From the Observer: “The electronic music scene in Ireland is massively having a moment,” says Tiarnan McMorrow, one half of DJ duo Brame & Hamo from Sligo [see their set below], whose track Roy Keane has been a huge hit this summer. “It’s become a hotspot for producers, DJs and festivals in the past four or five years. Everybody is getting behind it.”

Colleran (the J stands for Jack) says: “Music in Ireland is thriving. Collectives and labels are bringing like-minded people together and they are forming communities to react to what’s going on politically. It’s definitely a very inspiring time.” 

Ireland’s increasing liberalism – on same-sex marriage, on abortion and with the election of Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister – is also firing up young people. Isis O’Regan, founder of Room for Rebellion, a sister group of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, says: “Young people are enacting change, and the arts scene is reflecting this. Music is offering a sense of community and escapism.” Dublin-based DJ Cáit Fahey agrees. “There are a lot of exciting things happening in Ireland right now and it’s 100% related to the political climate. Friendships and communities are being built on the dance floor to fight against these issues.”

Georgia: Rave Revolution

From The BBC: "In May this year, riot police raided the country's most popular nightclubs prompting thousands of young Georgians to rave in the streets in protest. But the events also revealed an undercurrent - a clash between liberal youth and conservative far-right groups."

From The Economist: "The government said the raids on May 12th targeted drug dealers, in response to at least five recent drug-related deaths. Yet the standoff, Mr Chaladze says, is about something bigger: a struggle between Georgian traditionalists and a growing movement of social liberals in Tbilisi. (Both tendencies are represented inside the ruling party, Georgian Dream.) A new, Westernised generation “want to express themselves not only by dancing, but through different lifestyles,” says Ghia Nodia, a professor of politics at Ilia State University in Tbilisi. “It’s not a teenage rebellion stage—they are beyond that."

Many young people in Georgia saw the raids as an assault on their culture. The clubs have become islands of tolerance for nonconformists, sexual and otherwise, in a country that remains prudish and patriarchal. Just hours after the raids, thousands gathered outside the Georgian parliament to protest under the slogan “We Dance Together, We Fight Together”, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and prime minister, along with reform of the country’s harsh drug laws. The march turned into a rave that ran through the weekend, with loudspeakers on the steps of parliament filling the street with house and techno music. “It felt like Paris must have in ’68, just without the clashes,” says Mariam Pesvianidze, a filmmaker.

More here from Radio Free Europe.