Drinking & Nightlife
Tbilisi's nightlife scene was revolutionised with the opening of techno club Bassiani in 2014, an event that put the city's small but influential electronic music scene on the map. Now there are dozens of clubs where you can hear contemporary Georgian DJs, but there are also some wonderful venues running from cool artist collectives to cocktail lounges and wine bars.
We Dance Together, We Fight Together
Underground, political and queer, Bassiani was a breath of fresh air and unlike any club in the the former Soviet Union – let alone Georgia – when it opened its doors under the Dinamo Stadium in 2014. Taking up a cavernous, concrete space that could have been designed to become a club, Bassiani can accommodate 1200 guests over two dance floors (including the main one in the basin of a disused swimming pool), multiple chill-out areas and warrens of dark corridors.
When Bassiani and Café Gallery were raided by Georgian special forces in 2018 and hundreds of clubbers enjoying a night out were detained in an ostensible search for drugs, Tbilisi's youth rallied round and staged a two-day demonstration the following day, which quickly became the stuff of legend. Under the slogan 'We Dance Together, We Fight Together', thousands of clubbers hoping for a more liberal future for this former Soviet republic danced to techno on Rustavelis gamziri, backed by messages of support from DJs and musicians from around the world. As well as protesting against Georgia's draconian drug laws, and particularly against the random drug testing often carried out by police on the streets, the demonstration served to unite a previously fairly disparate part of Georgian society around the ideas of freedom of expression and progressive international values.
Today Bassiani is an obligatory stop for any techno lover visiting the city, and for some, the club is even the reason to visit Georgia itself. Anyone wanting to take the temperature of Tbilisi's now-famous techno culture will find a visit to the incredible space a fascinating experience.