Amidst the bustling streets of Bucharest, I make my way to a club known for its epic parties that defy gender norms and celebrate fluidity. What’s more, most places in Bucharest aren’t solely for the LGBTQ+ community, increasing the chances of meeting someone special.
The previous night, I ventured to the nearby Control Club, the city’s first gay-friendly club renowned for alternative live concerts. The crowd was different, consisting of chilled young millennials closer to my age. In contrast, Apollo111 attracts more teenagers and tweenagers. Control and Apollo111 are rendering traditional gay clubs less popular. Even I’ve met some fascinating people, including a very sweet Romanian.
I arrive at Apollo111, a club that is not defined by any particular label but is well-known for hosting queer parties. The most popular spot for the LGBT+ community, who flock here and to the nearby Control Club – on the same street – instead of traditional gay clubs. The entrance to Apollo111 is tucked in a gangway, but once I find it, I am greeted by a massive courtyard and a bustling terrace filled with people smoking, chatting, and even sharing passionate kisses.
With my thoughts swirling in my slightly numb brain from the previous day’s adventures, I climb some stairs and enter a dark space. A security guard follows me and directs me to the club’s entrance, but I soon learn that I had stumbled upon the Apollo111 theatre. Amidst the impressive lineup of plays at this theatre, there is a special event that draws in a unique and enthusiastic crowd: a drag queen show and contest organised by a group of people, among them Eugen Rădescu – the DJ for the evening and the subject of my interview.
Rădescu is a remarkable figure, with an infectious smile and undeniable charisma. He’s not just any DJ, but the most famous disco DJ in all of Romania. I overhear a fellow patron and refer to him as “the Legend of East-Europe,” prompting laughter and agreement from those around us.
But Rădescu’s talents don’t stop at the DJ booth – he is also a distinguished professor at the University of Bucharest, where he teaches art history. With a PhD in political science and three published books under his belt, he is a true polymath and a force to be reckoned with.
As I soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Apollo111, I am struck by the diversity of the crowd. People from all walks of life have gathered here to dance, laugh, and celebrate each other’s differences. It’s a testament to the power of inclusivity and a shining example of how a community can come together to embrace individuality. As I reflect on the night’s festivities, I can’t help but feel that Bucharest has surprised me in the most fabulous way possible.
If Henri Belolo’s most significant contribution to music began on the back of a napkin, seems like Eugen Rădescu’s most important contribution to political science for his mother country was also on the back of a napkin with a pejorative drawing and the words used backwards from Romania’s national poet. Or, at least this is what your former husband said.
Indeed, in an ironic sense, I depicted the dysfunctional society that Romania was and still is. Identifying all the traumas of this nation is a challenging task unless you’re a local. Some of it is rooted in history, some in fabricated history, and some in a not-so-well-defined cultural context. Despite its charms, this country’s charm fades quickly. I have always maintained that we do not require a national poet, and if we do, we should search for someone else. We don’t need romantic far-right extravaganza in our culture. In this time when we have to fight against a lot of injustice, portraying extremist right-wing ideas seems dangerous and unhealthy to me.
We are defined by our experiences. I guess your experience as a DJ for the LGBT+ community influenced your approach to music selection and performance.
As a DJ, I do not cater exclusively to the LGBTQ community. Rather, I consider myself a DJ for everyone, as I strongly believe in inclusion. However, I have observed that the LGBTQ community often seeks to be treated differently, which unfortunately creates a divide between them and society at large. While I aim to provide an all-encompassing experience, I acknowledge that LGBT+ history and experience have undoubtedly influenced my music selection, from the artists to the songs played. Essentially, the queer community has played a significant role in shaping the history of music. It’s not a defining or mandatory aspect, but being queer can allow for a unique perspective on the surrounding culture and music.
As a prominent figure in the LGBT+ scene, how do you balance your role as an entertainer with your responsibilities as a representative of a community that has faced significant challenges and discrimination?
Being a queer activist and an entertainer are not mutually exclusive roles. Personally, I have found a way to merge the two, and I am grateful for the opportunity to freely express my beliefs and support the causes of the LGBT+ community through my self-created persona. Unfortunately, the situation in Romania regarding human rights, and specifically, the rights of LGBTQ individuals, is not a pleasant one. I am glad that I can contribute to changing this reality, and that I have the energy to focus on these important issues.
Looking to the future, what do you see as the most pressing issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, and how can the nightlife industry and DJ community help to address these challenges?
A crucial topic demanding attention is the concept of inclusion and how the LGBTQ+ community can integrate into a normative system upheld by just laws and society. It’s important to note that no revolution occurs without a struggle, and the fight for queer rights is an ongoing and continuous one that must be sustained. As a DJ, I play music from the entire LGBTQ spectrum, and the lyrics, musicality, and even the artist themselves – whether they consciously assume it or not – convey a powerful message to those who see and listen. The music industry is currently undergoing spectacular transformations, and we must appreciate and embrace these changes with love.
An interview by Dominik Böhler
Dominik Böhler is the Editor-at-Large of GAY45. A 26 y.o., PhD candidate, passionate about the transcendence of science in the philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. Works in Vienna and commutes to England at the University of Oxford where to continue the DPhil (doctoral) programme in Information, Communication, and the Social Sciences. Böhler does not like to have a social media presence.