Cxema: abandoned underground techno raves in post-revolution Ukraine

After reading mixmag’s article all about Dublin’s nightlife scene and how its being revitalized after years of closures of some of it’s best known spots like Tripod and Twisted Pepper. With the announcement of the potential closure of both District 8 and Hangar in the next few years to make way for hotels and “aparthotel” it got me thinking about where Ireland’s nightlife is going. Not to say that Dublin’s nightlife is in a dire situation with great spots popping up and still going all around the city it just feels that it can be lacking sometimes.

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It got me thinking about how either I don’t know about or there is little underground initiative for “organised” raves in Dublin, please correct me if I’m wrong which I would hazard a guess to say I am. I remembered a documentary that I had watched recently from American channel Vice. It was actually done by i-D magazine which is a British culture print which they had acquired in 2012. It was all about rave culture in Kiev, Ukraine and how this one organised party Cxema is helping to bring a spotlight on Ukrainian nightlife which you can see below:

A lot of my information that I am getting about Cxema is from this article ( considering there is little information out there about it and a lot of it is not great personal accounts of what they experienced but I wanted something more official.

The crew that set up Cxema started it back in 2014 with their first party only having 100 attendees but it has now grown to have 1,000 each event. Ukraine has been through a very long and tough economic downturn and not to mention the current war that is happening in the East of the country between the Ukrainian army and Russian backed rebels. During the maidan protests nightlife in the city went through a rough time with curfews and suspicions from authorities about any large groups gathering in the one place. Cxema was started by Slava Lepsheev who had been djing in the country for over fifteen years at the time and wanted to create a space where young people could party during these times.

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Cxema is in a different location every time, normally an abandoned location on the edge of the city not too draw too much attention, such as abandoned skate parks and office blocks. This helps to avoid the police who have been known to shutdown nightlife in the city. The euromaidan uprising helped to bring Cxema about with Slava saying “it isn’t about making money.” CXEMA is about Kiev’s brash and fashionable youth coming together to express themselves. They are finding an identity in the music and the rehashed 90s branded sports gear and fur coats they like to wear”. The night has helped other Ukrainian techno Djs more attention in the scene such as  Voin Oruwu, Wulffius and CXEMA resident Borys.

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Cxema is about showcasing great techno music as resident Igor Glushko has said about it “In Ukraine some say the people like techno because it’s a form of escapism; I think it’s just the most functional form of music to dance to. You can see that at CXEMA, the crowd is always really responsive and enthusiastic”. Djs who play Cxema are almost exclusively from Kiev and the has an intense light show to match the heavy techno blaring through these abandoned locations. As mentioned Cxema is also about looking your best with a big emphasis on the fashion worn when attending which is better seen in the video earlier in the blog. Cxema has become a staple of Kiev’s nightlife and will continue to do so for years to come with it creating “ a community of people who love techno and fashion, going to parties and reclaiming their city’s forgotten spaces.”

Question is when we do lose spaces like District 8 and Hangar will we have our own Cxema to take its place?

If you like similar documentaries check out Vice’s Thump and Noisey channels especially this one which looks at the nightlife scene in the eastern part of Ukraine where the war is still taking place and enforced curfews are a daily occurrence:





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