Can you tell us a little bit about your club and its history?
Jonathan Tavares: Pérola Negra Club used to be the spot for exotic entertainment, by the late ’80s and beginning of the ’90s, and it was quite a prolific space that made history, for good and bad reasons. Later on, it reopened as a burlesque project under different management till 2018. That same year, Helder took over and invited me to gather a crew to start the new project with a different direction. I’ve invited João from StudioBruto and Óscar Maia to help me with the visual identity, André for press-related issues, Nuno for photography and Instagram, Sarah as bar manager and Pedro“Rompante” as tech director. Eventually, Raquel joins in for social media and assisted me in booking-related issues. The latest additions to the family were João Almeida (liaison & production) and Filipe Moço (tech director) that joined us after Pedro left.
Where is your club located? Do you know its building’s history?
It’s based in Porto, Portugal. The building was known for its programming of wild live sex performances (some included live animals and fakirs) that took place in the old days of this infamous club.
Its bohemian vibe was very defiant for a society that had just started to live in a democracy. The club’s architecture is unique and it’s like a joyride into the books of Tim Lawrence and the nightclubbing history of NY of the 1970’s and the 1980’s. It’s a very unique atmosphere and vibe. Come visit us and see for yourself!
Musically and aesthetically speaking, how would you describe the scene in which your club evolves?
Musically speaking, the club always wanted to gather many different genres and tribes with an inclusivity in mind, but having electronic music as the main focus and some good live concerts.
Can you present us your resident(s) if you have some ?
Right now we have 2 resident djs – Pedro Rompante and João Almeida – Elite Athlete. We also have some steady collectives and djs that share the booth of our club, on a regular basis such as Moulinex, Xinobi, Pional, XXIII (label), Gusta-vo, Klin Klop just to name a few.
Is there a specific mix that represents well your club ?
You can find our musical endeavour and programming in our Spotify playlists here.
What’s special when partying in your nightclub?
The club speaks for itself. The programming, all the visual appeal and unique aesthetics, the massive sound system and the entire Pérola family that takes care of you while you are enjoying the experience.
Can you describe one specific night/one special moment during your club’s life that illustrates its DNA?
I think there’re so many that I will be missing some really great moments, by mentioning just one, to be honest. Different nights equals different vibes. And as I am writing this, what came to my mind were nights with Stingray’s, Objekt, Joe Goddard and Marcellus Pitman – all of them were incredible and created unforgettable memories.
How does your club interact within its political local context? Are relations rather pacific or conflictual?
The club as a cultural hub and a space for the community to interact will inevitably play an important political role. These recent months had us completely closed and without any means to maintain our business, or organize events. We’ve kept our heads high and actively manifested our opinions through pacifist approaches, but nonetheless, our firm convictions are that our government doesn’t recognise the importance of culture within society and we cannot stand still in this scenario.
I’ve mentioned before the importance of the inclusive approach on our club, and intolerance is not welcomed here.
Would you say running your nightclub also means political involvement?
Promoting community well-being is so important and nightclubs can contribute positively to that. Nightclubs are also agents of cultural transmission and you cannot dissociate culture from politics.
What is the social and political role of the “night” sector?
There is always room for improvement but promoting diversity and inclusion can break barriers and can help keeping prejudice and bigotry far away from our community.
Would you say that the current “nightlife” shutdown is a democratic issue ?
We decided to close prior to national lockdown as we felt the urge to protect the health of our community and as we speak we remain closed and with no perspective of a reopening date. We need solutions and a clear conversation line with our higher entities as we have been brought to exhaustion. Nightlife is also space to share thoughts, ideas and your perspective towards life. It can be a platform for expression and a way to fight repression from your normal day lives.
How do you see the future?
I see lots of transformation and technological advances that will stay even after the pandemic, but bars and nightclubs need human interaction – without social distancing. Our old ways of socializing and navigating through life have to come back. Communication and interaction are the essence of human life and it’s crucial for the future of this industry. The new vaccine is good news for the industry, so I hope that soon, once this pandemic is over and done, we can safely return to these places of cultural activity and be ourselves again.