Ciężki Brokat: Listen to an essential playlist curated by the Warsaw party crew
Crack Magazine is marking Pride season with a series of specialist mixes and playlists dedicated to LGBTQ+ club nights and promoters. From the iconic parties of bygone eras through to the emerging events breaking through in 2022, we’ll be highlighting the sounds of these parties and the artists that shape them.
Ciężki Brokat occupy a vital space within Warsaw. Founded in 2017 by DJ, artist and promoter Avtomat – a former member of queer-feminist electronic music platform Oramics – and drag queen and DJ Aldona Relax, the collective and club night offer the city’s LGBTQ+ population a sense of belonging and an alternative to more mainstream club nights and venues. As such, their musical focus – which encompasses the broad scope of styles and soaring tempos favourited by the crew – is a deliberate response to the sounds that typically permeate such places.
The party functions as a central hub for its community of artists and performers, dancers and friends – which includes themsel in distress a.k.a Livbertine, the DJ and burlesque performer who joined the Ciężki Brokat crew in 2021. More than anything, attendees are encouraged to take what they need from the events; connection with those around them, a night of musical discovery or an overdue timeout from the Polish government’s fiercely conservative agendas.
Next weekend, on 25 June, Ciężki Brokat will take part in the joint Warsaw Pride and Kyiv Pride march, which has been described by organisers as a march for “peace and freedom of Ukraine and against Russian aggression in Ukraine.”.
Ahead of the event, we spoke to co-founder Avtomat to learn more about the party. The Ciężki Brokat trio also teleport us straight to the dancefloor with an essential playlist filled with white-knuckle club music, bubblegum bops, steamy R&B and more.
Ciężki Brokat is…
A DJ collective very much rooted in the queer scene. It was created in 2017 to create safer spaces for queers who felt left out of the mainstream clubs or gay bars. Our name translates to ‘heavy glitter’, which underlines the ambiguity of our tastes. Right now, apart from throwing our regular club night, we have also been taking care of music curation and events for Parada Równości (the official Warsaw Pride organisers) during the Pride Month.
Speaking of Pride Month, what does it mean to you?
It usually means a lot of work! In all seriousness, when we were kids there was not enough queer representation in public spaces; we were pretty much kept in the dark about how we differ from heteronormative people. We want the Pride Month in Poland to be the counterbalance to all the superstitious, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic drivel being drummed into young queers by the government and the educational system. A tall order, we know!
Who is involved in the project?
At the moment our core team consists of three people. First, there are the founders Aldona Relax (a brilliant DJ and drag queen) and myself, Avtomat. I’m a queer DJ, producer and vocalist. The third member is themsel in distress who is a DJ and burlesque performer otherwise known as Livbertine. themsel in distress joined us a year ago. We also have a whole group of orbiting artists and friends who have been contributing to our events, including Pupper DJ – who has been with us since the inception of the night – and Santa Evangelista a.k.a. Tomasz Szczepanek, with whom we work on our biggest events during the Pride season.
What is your focus or aim in terms of musical direction?
Ciężki Brokat is intended as a counterbalance to the commodification of club music and the burgeoning business techno scene. We don’t discriminate against any genre, but we made it a point to make our music offer [something] different from all that’s happening around us. There’s always an ambiguous element to the names, visuals and music at our parties – we like clashing the kitschy with the serious, the profanum with the sacrum and the light-hearted with the negative.
What did you want revellers to take away from one of your events?
We want our party to be used as a tool – for networking and finding like-minded people, as a think-tank, or as a means of just uncoupling yourself from reality, which the Polish queers need frequently. We want the most bizarre people to feel right at home at our parties, so long as they don’t infringe on anyone’s freedom.
How does Ciężki Brokat differ to other queer nights running in Warsaw currently?
Actually, Warsaw doesn’t really have many proper queer nights. There have been many attempts by business people to ride the coattails of the trend to be queer, but they rarely understand the process and the atmosphere needed at these events. Queer nights should be run by queers who understand your experience. As I mentioned before, we also curate the music to be different.
“We like clashing the kitschy with the serious, the profanum with the sacrum and the light-hearted with the negative” – Avtomat
Let’s discuss the music that you’ve included in your playlist. What have you chosen and why?
The tracks are a healthy mix of Polish, European and global club music with a lot of queer and female accents. Most of them are tracks we frequently play at our club nights and some of them have a special meaning.
Could you tell us about the special meaning behind some of your choices?
The Usher song at the end, for example, has been our closing song for ages; at the end of the night we frequently put the lights on and sing it all together with the people on the dancefloor. Dzwoni Doopsko (Polish for ‘the ass is ringing’) is another one of those tracks. We celebrated its premiere last year with a Ciężki Brokat launch party culminating in a twerking finale on the dancefloor.