“People Were Curious”: Underground Kampala Is Creating A Techno Culture In Uganda
In a country where there is little techno, Kampala creates a paradise for diehard fans of the underground. The party is slowly building a movement of monthly pop-ups in Kampala and other hidden corners of Uganda.
Founder Richard O'Doi said: "We created it to create a space for positive communication and interaction where viewers can immerse themselves in a free zone where social pressures are removed.
"For us, that means no sexist bullying, no homophobia, no violence, no racism and no expectations, just a general understanding of self-expression."
After Richard's friends gave him an illegal birthday bash in 2010, With the closing party in 2020, the party is slowly taking shape and will bring together techno DJs and producers from Uganda and connect them with international DJs. It is run by Richard and a team of other DJs, sound engineers, lighting designers and producers who share a common love of electronic music.
Both the party and the team behind it love techno and underground values. "Kampala is a bit difficult for creative people, especially in this kind of scene, some people want to attend an event just because it's popular, or they worry about the crowd and forget about the music itself."
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But Underground Kampala is determined to move away from an advertising-led approach, to a do-it-yourself approach and to put the needs of the community first. Away from the traditional entertainment industry of the city, hold parties in abandoned buildings, parking lots and other places where dancers can experience new music and socialize. The party does not want to control gender, but ensures that this space is free from society's gaze and shame.
Now the party is ready for a new platform. The group aims to collaborate with overseas techno artists and DJs to create a permanent space for their community away from home. They are currently raising funds to upgrade their facility's equipment.
“Being a pop-up in different places can be fun but challenging. We have to think about logistics because sometimes it is difficult to transport a lot of equipment and ensure that it is safe. So now we are looking for a permanent place to be the first for techno in Kampala.
We caught up with founder Richard Odoi, who told us about the party, how motorcycle seats are chosen, the stigma associated with raves in Uganda and the international friendships that can be born on safari.