Prague’s Míra Valeš is a scene activist, creative proselytizer and promoter of the queer club night Pioneer. We recently talked to him about the city’s fledgling queer music scene and the events (over and underground) that contribute to the reinvigoration of the capital’s club scene. Enjoy the interview while listening to Pioneer residents Electronic Bitches’ exclusive high-octane mix, best devoured on a sizzling sun-soaked day.
Electronic Beats: What drove you to start Pioneer?
Míra Valeš: I started the party with a friend of mine in 2009 because we lacked a “low-key” event that would be gay-friendly, with decent dance music where electro, pop and house music could freely merge. We had both experienced similar parties in Berlin and London, while Prague didn’t have such a night. We also started to miss the vibe of the second half of the ’90s, when dance music was less rigid.
What kind of music do you play at your events? What’s the philosophy behind the nights?
Each party has its own theme that is then applied onto the visuals and video, specifically created for the party by Jan Wolf, the theme spans from Kenneth Anger films, sports and wrestling to our love for kitsch. The last party we did was focused on pop and its ’90s guise. The June party will revolve around the mix of high art, porn and circus. Personally I have an eclectic taste, with a penchant for electro, old-school house, hip-hop, and the occasional pop tune, so I love to hear all these genres together in one club.
You’re trying to create an alternative to the local mainstream gay scene. Is there such a thing as an alternative queer scene in Prague?
I think things are changing here. Our friends at Queer Noises are going strong. Both Pioneer and Queer Noises take place at the Final Cub in Prague. In contrast to Queer Noises, Pioneer is more mainstream, I guess; we’re focused on dance music, whilst their crowd tends to be avant-garde. I love going to their gigs, they champion a punk ethos. Sometimes the Urxin Sisters play in town – they make gay-friendly disco, which I’m also fond of. In comparison to the mainstream gay scene, there are still only a few events around, though. I think there’s no point talking about an underground queer scene, not because it wouldn’t exist but because I believe in the merging of the high with the low, the commercial with the alternative. Sometimes you might feel like going to Final or Café v Lese, then you feel like having a cocktail at the Periscope, a fun fashion party which also started recently.
Is Prague getting more open and tolerant towards subcultures and various minorities?
I don’t think the Prague scene has ever really been intolerant. The people in Prague are, in my opinion, generally some of the most relaxed and tolerant. So the diversity has been always there; not too much in terms of gay/queer culture, but this was probably due to the lack of active and passionate promoters rather than lack of tolerance. There has been a lot of diversity in terms of the different scenes – there is strong community around the biker/skate scene, as well as big emo and metal communities. In terms of queer and gay, the community has been growing steadily but up until very recently, in terms of night life, the offerings used to be pretty weak. Most of the parties were quite commercial, done in big outdated clubs. This has changed recently with some of the aforementioned events, so the scene is improving and getting more and more exciting!
The next installment of the anything-goes (at least musically) night Pioneer will take place on June 29th at the Final Club in Prague’s Žižkov, featuring Electronic Bitches and DJ Felix. More information is here.