Having a stable space for making events is a dream that we pursue, and we already experienced its first instance HERNA. Hopefully, we will encounter the second incarnation sometime soon.
Herna operated from November 2017 till May 2018, and it was a dark cave under a railway bridge with a powerful sound system and passionate people performing, listening & dancing. It used to host several focused club nights with names such as Ansome, Myako, Mental Overdrive, Kadaver, OGJ, and many others.
Bastl Jams streamed from Herna
You can find recorded streams from Bastl Jams at Herna here
Thoughts on our beloved club by David Štrobach a.k.a Kadaver
On the 20th of April, it’s been exactly one year since I visited two dark, extremely humid rooms under the central train station in Brno. The rooms were abandoned for years, and before that were used as a 24/7 casino (or a Herna, as we say here) since the early 90s. Due to its handy location in the heart of the city, it would become a popular spot among the local meth heads in need of selling stolen goods to finance their addiction.
The spot, with its shady and sad history, seemed like the perfect location for a club where now something beautiful happens every Friday. Originally a storage space for coal that fuelled the very first trains crossing Europe in the 19th century, it’s a symbol of Brno’s past greatness and forward-thinking leaders. Later on, it managed to become a symbol for something very different – of the neglect and greed of the city’s ‘elite’; of the ‘wild 90s’ and the period’s even wilder privatizations of public property; and of absolute disrespect for minorities and the poor – especially those that ended up living in close proximity to the train station due to displacements way back after the WWII, with no means of escaping to their original ways of life due to the totalitarian regime that came to be afterward. A couple of years ago, there weren’t many clubs in this city – but there were hundreds of these ‘Hernas’ everywhere, darkened rooms with no daylight where you could lose your month’s paycheck in a matter of minutes, where you would get free water and coffee and beer after the first 24 hours of gambling.
I took it as a challenge – transforming these rooms into something similar in the meaning of opening hours and daylight, yet very different in vibes and the purpose.
It didn’t take long, and Bastl’s 1st destruction brigade came in – equipped with crowbars, sledgehammers, and protective glasses, we ripped down years of collective shame and sadness off the walls that were still tangled up in a web of LAN cables and hidden cameras and vaults. It took three or so months of steady work to uncover the space’s lost beauty while maintaining its grit.
There are many things a person becomes good at (or at least stops being scared of doing, hehe) while running a club with a group of friends – from the joys of moving the speakers around until finding that sweet spot and fixing them to chains for a permanent installation for the first time to the occasional chat with the cops at 5 AM while trying to keep a serious face. From coming up with elaborate lighting rigs with a crew of talented light designers and operators to trying to figure out how to stop a steady stream of water that starts leaking through the walls when it rains. Booking and having dinner with people whose records you’ve been listening to for years and finding out they’re super fun to be around – or sometimes not so much.
For the past two or so years of throwing events with the Bastl people, at parties that worked out great but also at the ones that proved to be a financial flock and were less than ideally crowded, I’ve been trying to find out what’s my motivation behind all this. While steadily cutting down my drug intake (be it alcohol or anything else, be it for fun or for the single purpose of being able to stay awake for two days while building up something elaborate you have to break down afterward), the more work and responsibility I had to take on myself, I ran into moments of questioning this work: why do I do this? Not because of losing my interest or having less fun, more like a realization of sorts: I’m standing next to 6 subs at 6 AM surrounded by people dancing their pants off, I’ve been up for 24 hours because of setting this up, and I’m sober – what is it that is holding me here & why don’t I go to sleep?
It didn’t take me long before I realized what is that mysterious source of heat and calm. At the same time, I stand hidden in the fog in the back of a dark room, trying to take in as much sub-bass as possible into my body with the 7th Club Mate or Matcha or whatever in my hand – it’s the feeling of creating our own little autonomous space where our own rules apply, it’s seeing the sweaty faces of friends and strangers alike, stumbling out of the dark a couple of times a night – smiling or keeping their eyes closed as they dance away their fears and their frustrations, surrounding the DJ and meeting him in a complete symbiosis you don’t see much among a group of people these days – at least during the day. Having all the freaks, nerds, minorities, and unpopular kids of the world under one roof and giving them the momentary feeling of safety and happiness. And last but not least – the actual physical power of a big sound system filling up space in between my bones and my veins, playing out loudly and clearly the music I love, and I keep searching for every day.
It’s way easy for some people, be it the city officials or the less tolerant neighbors, to write off club culture as a culture of excess and hedonism – but I think excess is for children, and hedonism is dead. It took me a year of making sure every single Friday that the sets are running on time, the performers are happy. The lights are not too bright before I gained 100% certainty about my motivation and hopefully all of our visitors’ motivation – finding a spot of collective understanding and despite the loud surroundings a bit of inner tranquility a couple of times a month in the heart of the city, while the trains above your head continue to rush to their destinations with no idea of you celebrating underneath them.