Spare Evening in Kutaisi

Reflector—Same Place as Usual

My friend and I are strolling up Queen Tamar Street. A big party is about to take place at Reflector Club, the usual gathering place of friends in this Old Kutaisi neighborhood. Leon is visiting from Tbilisi, an assurance that the party will be cool. But I also remember my first conscious visit to Kutaisi in 2001, when I arrived here to work on a New Year’s Eve story for the Public Broadcaster’s newscast. All I remember is White Bridge and the stagnant, lifeless city still reeling from the 1990s depression. The Rioni River itself seemed to have stopped, remaining immovable. I also remember a street banner with a fist and an inscription “Sapichkhia Our Strength” (surrealism in action – what’s that got to do with anything?).

But now I’m in a totally different Kutaisi, though this city has always been the vanguard of culture, even in times of deep depression.

I’m about to reach my destination. Apparently, Kutaisi’s underground has recently moved into this oddly quaint building.

Reflector bar in Kutaisi

The Reflector club itself is pretty small. I see many familiar faces who must have traveled from Tbilisi. Now I understand why this club is so important. Rezo Kuntselia is one of the rare breeds whose taste in music I trust blindly – or deafly.

First, we both agree that the ongoing decentralization of electronic music is a good thing, and that good clubs are no longer found exclusively in the capital. We remember both good and bad examples when, for one, clubs were opened on the Black Sea coast but failed to bring about any systematic outcomes to sustain new music in the regions – everything dies down here as soon as tourist season is over.

“The beauty of Reflector is that it relies on its own authentic audience, the environment where it was born, not outsiders. And that’s what sets it apart from seasonal regional clubs. It is self-sustaining, having transformed into a space capable of keeping its uniqueness regardless of the season, rain or shine,” Rezi says.

The idea to open a club was conceived by three friends: Rezi Chiradze, Ramses Kilasonia, and Giorgi Kurashvili. Instead of traveling to Tbilisi every weekend to have fun, they opted to open a cool club in their hometown.

It only makes sense that a club like that opened in Kutaisi. After all, this progressive city has always been ahead – even ahead of Tbilisi – when it comes to embracing new musical trends, from hip-hop and punk rock to electronic music itself. Just ask around in Kutaisi, and you will be surprised how deep and strong Kutaisi’s musical traditions are.

“The emergence of Reflector is a demonstration of clear, deep-rooted identity,” Rezi claims. “It is not a copycat club mimicking one Tbilisi-based club or another. And every visitor here invariably plunges into the club’s innermost atmosphere, knowing that the local vibe is always there. It is a local club containing and preserving musical traditions in Kutaisi and the Imereti Region as a whole.”

Yes, it is local but, musically, Reflector is an open space with many performers enjoying recognition in the Tbilisi musical scene, also foreign headliners finding themselves here.

The purpose of the club is to promote less commercial music. A good sound system, small space, quality music, and lighting provide this small club with everything to be put on the map as another Kutaisi landmark.

Besides, Reflector is an excellent way of socializing, a sort of mini-model of constantly modern, humorous, and avant-garde Kutaisi as we know it.

So come to the usual meeting place, and enjoy the good music at Reflector in Kutaisi.

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