SheSpace Tbilisi: The women leading the way in Georgia’s nightlife


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“Women saved this country,” begins Keta Gabunia, who co-founded Mtkvarze in 2012, establishing Georgia’s first club after the Russo-Georgian war—a home for diverse parties, screenings, social initiative, and the Drag Ball—rising from nearly four decades of turmoil: the aftermath of the civil war (1989-1993), the hardcore nineties, and the Russian invasion in 2008. Keta spoke of women who, faced with no choice, worked abroad or juggled full-time jobs alongside managing their large, often electricity-deprived, households.

Nastia Sartania aka sTia’s office is packed with record boxes, print publications and synths. She is an acclaimed pianist, the Georgian Queen of d’n’b, the founder of Tbilisi’s School of Sound and Design (CES) located in Fabika, and the co-founder of CES Records and Georgian Music Legacy Collection. “Now we have proof of the very first Georgian electronic record which happened to be by a female artist,” sTia proudly states, unpacking a sleeve from a box with a fresh press of Natela Svanidze’s first electronic album in Georgia from 1974, produced on the legendary Synthi 100. “How good is that!”

CES Records is a home for iconic Georgian artists like Natalie Beridze and Nikakoi, alongside newcomers like Anushka Chkheidze. Through the Georgian Music Legacy Collection, exclusively released on vinyl, sTia spotlights music from the early ’90s to 2005—a challenging time when numerous electronic musicians began their careers, only to see the music industry collapse. Through her work with the label and the music school, Sartania ensures the new generation of Georgians has access to a legacy that’s often absent online.

It’s not the first time she’s been questioned about why so many of Tbilisi’s cultural powerhouses are led by women, yet she finds it difficult to provide a straightforward answer. “I don’t see people in terms of gender—whether you’re female or male. It’s all about what you desire, your energy, your power, and, most importantly, your love,” she reflects. She is convinced that the presence of more women in leadership positions in the music industry encourages others to break out of their shells.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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