Prague's Roxy is not an "underground" club, but it does draw far more locals than tourists. A medium-sized venue with two floors and a grand staircase opening into the first floor dance space, Roxy is obviously a venue made for standing and dancing—not for sitting. There are rooms in the back for lounging, but the big dance space in the front looks like what it is: A basement. The club-goers and DJs are responsible for the vibe of the show. There is no swanky bar or enormous glitterly disco ball or go-go dancers to distract from the music and crowd. And, on this night, Dubfire and the crowd were both up for the show.
The club started filling up around 1:30 AM, and the dancefloor got started shortly after that. By the time Dubfire started playing at 2 AM, the floor was as crowded as it would be all night. Although far from packed or even uncomfortably crowded, those who chose to hit the dancefloor hit it hard. With two other big parties that night in the city, including the infinitely more popular LTJ Bukem at a warehouse space called Abaton, as well as the city's biggest megaclub Mecca holding its 10 year anniversary party, those who attended the Dubfire show were obvious fans. Roxy's two marketing managers assured me that this was a slow night for the club and that it was usually much more crowded. I believe them, of course, and I also won't judge the venue based on this one show. Besides, is it that bad to have a club that's not packed if everyone attending really wants to be there?
Indeed, one benefit of Prague's near utter lack of pretension is that no one here is too cool to dance. Prague's music scene may have many downsides—including a general lack of genre diversity and a painfully slow uptake on dance music trends—but at least those who choose to party don't do it halfway. Indeed, the rather cold demeanor of Czechs seems to disappear once they get their party on. As Dubfire got further and further into his set, the crowd got more and more into his music. The connection between the dancers and Dubfire was impressive. Even though this was no doubt one of his smaller gigs, he adjusted his sound appropriately to meet the small, but enthusiastic crowd.
This former Eastern Bloc country is still catching up culturally, and the music and nightlife scene is no exception. Indeed, Prague seems to be rather resistant to outside influence, including that of neighbor Berlin. Drum & bass and trance events draw the most partygoers, while electro, house and minimal struggle to make more than a small dent in the scene. Needless to say, Francois K and the Kompakt crew would never be booked here, although some Ed Banger members did spin a few weeks ago. Still, the biggest and most mainstream names in dance music do hit the Golden City.
Unfortunately, it will be a while before more risk-taking and genre-defying artists are booked at venues like Roxy. Prague lacks an underground house scene the same way it lacks venue and genre diversity. As of now, there is not a sizeable enough market to regularly book expensive DJs or host more than a few weekly house music parties. Indeed, Dubfire's appearance was an anomaly rather than the norm. In a few years, hopefully that won't be the case.