Hi, we are here to talk to Dragana Dobrić, a party girl from Belgrade, who is also known as the “Mistress” of the techno cathedral Drugstore! After some time we managed to catch up with Dragana, have a coffee and chat in Kozmetičar coffee bar.
Hello Dragana please introduce yourself to Still in Belgrade readers?
Hello, well I’m a ballet dancer from Belgrade, dancing with a glass in my hand I’m in love with the nights and all those precious things they bring to us.
Since you run Bivši bar and Drugstore club, can you tell us about the very beginnings of this club/ concept and business?
The concept has always been ‘do what you like yourself ‘and ‘keep both your old friends and your new friends happy too The most important thing here is that we are trying to throw the sort of events we personally would like to go to. Diversity of the things we do is rather important as well, since we enjoy many kinds of music, visual and performing arts…..
I enjoy working with the like-minded people. Our policy has always been to listen to what others have to say or offer (by others I mean, people who have been coming to our bar and club, people we have met during 3 years of developing, or people that keep sending us their ideas).
Who are your colleagues? What were the beginnings like? And things like that…..
Nemanja and I started with the idea to create a place for us and our friends. A place where we can hang out and be free to talk and dance to our heart’s content, to feel free to lie down on a sofa till the creak of dawn or simply chat with our friends. That was what the original ‘Bivsi Bar’ was all about. Everything started from there. We met a lot of people that we made friends with and it was like place for a family get -together. I loved that little house and I still miss it.
It was like epiphany to us. We used to throw parties, exhibitions, enjoying improved music sessions for twenty or so people
After a couple of months we had to move from there regrettably though. I met up with Milos and we went on operating at the different locations. At about the same time we met up with Danilo as well. He has already started working on his idea of Cultural Centre Drugstore, he seemed to have a perfect place for it and already a couple of months of throwing events. I took to it from the very start and we started working together in the old venue near Beko building in the Lower Dorcol area. The first year was extremely good. We thoroughly enjoyed each and every party. And yes, Bane started to work with us as well during the ‘transition’.
After we moved to a bigger place our thinking took a new turn. Now we have a place where we can do concerts, parties, fashion shows, exhibitions. to name but a few
We have a brilliant team. Besides the people I mentioned already, there is Edin (our voice on the internet), Stefan (our graphic designer and concerts booker), Filip Xavi (our techno parties booker and resident DJ ), Milica (our PR girl), Bob (our visual master). Marko (‘our guy to always tie up loose ends’), our staff at the bar who are like our extended family, I would say.
How does it feel like to run an independent club without any sponsors and to be a young entrepreneur in Serbia?
We started with open hearts, I would say..we have had our ups and downs along the way, but come to think of it, I’m super happy we can do things our way and build up a story in our own pace. We thoroughly enjoy things we do, so when we face obstacles , it’s not too hard to overcome them and btw I’m not so sure we’re that young
Who arranges music program at Drugstore? Who were the greatest and most expensive music starts to have performed in your club?
Most of the music program is dealt with by Bane and Xavi. Nemanja has his own contacts and sometimes some events are done through my network of people. There are music collectives that are throwing theirparties in our premises or DJ’s are the bookers themselves, like Tijana Todorovic.
I don’t know about the music stars or the ones that have been given to certain DJs. but I know which parties I still remember Let me see..errrr .Helena Hauff was perfect, she’s a great young woman with great music. I enjoyed JTC, couldn’t stop dancing. Jamal Moss was really good, Surgeon killed the party ,Rodhead was great..Oh yes, a very special night with Morphosiz, I will never forget that one! He was supposed to play one Saturday night but the party was for some reason came to a halt and..this guy told us that very second that that sh*** cannot stop us, him insisting on playing on Sunday night. The music started at 11 o’clock and the journey he took us to was pure magic.
We know that clubs in Belgrade usually last for a few seasons, and after some time tend to change music direction towards the commercial and the mainstream, or they just start being passé and closed down eventually. What can we expect from Drugstore in the next seasons? How do you plan to keep people coming there and keep the bookings and finances?
Not every club I hope. Club 20/44 has been throwing great nights for years now, and I’m sure that’s because the crew is doing stuff on their own, no sponsors, no running for the money..I found it similar to how we are operating. You have to love this way of life, so you can live it to the full.
The thing with our venue is that it is really huge and we can play around and choose which part of the club we are opening for which events..Sometimes we have two to three stages….sometimes one. There is loads of hidden corners we are planning to open every now and then. It’s usually opening when we are doing party for 100 or so people (friends and family vibe). I would like to continue to organize different events with a different facet to each and every. I love the fact that almost every time something seems to be changing in the air of the Slaughterhouse.
The art program is something we would like to focus on more. Performing arts and modern theatre are my passion so I will certainly find a way to work on that. Not that money is no object because of the production part of the business. We’ ll deal with that bit in the forthcoming months. I would like to see Drugstore turn into a platform for young artists and develop just like we do along the way.
As for the bookings and money matters, well we just have to come up with more good stuff and people are bound to come and join
For what it’s worth there is a chance the admission fees might be charged in the near future because at times labour of love is not enough to keep on bringing artists from abroad without this sort of financial support.
Name 5 best parties that took place in Drugstore? Name a few artists that you would like to book? When we talk about the “people of Drugstore” who do you think are your perfect guests? Are there any particular features that describe them?
Ok, I already mentioned some parties as far as I can remember off the top of my hat I would really much like to see Kreidler band performing in Drugstore. Perfect guests? People with ‘a good pair of feet to dance and good ear for music’. I love to see people dancing! Can’t help it myself.
Is there anything else you are up to at this moment?
I have done a project with Yes Master Label for the next season. We created some beach accessories, caps and swimming suits. Looking forward to see all that in stores- Yes Mater X Drugstore.
And yes! I’m super happy that I will be a part of the film making crew this September. My dear friend and one of the most beautiful people I know is shooting her third movie called “Wind”. Screenplay is written by adorable Ana Rodic, production house Monkey Production (owned by us girls) and super active Jelena Angelovski as a producer and our boy Mate Ugrin as a DP. I kinda enjoy this girl power
We are operating the same way as Drugstore, which means – totally independent but we would like to raise the rest of the funding we need for the shooting in the middle of campaign .so, for those of you who like this sort of things and would like to support it, there is the link below. Thank you!
There is another project, I’m working on with some other young female colleagues, but more about that story is yet to come in September!
Dragana Kostica is the Belgrade-based editor in chief and founder of Still in Belgrade art, culture and club scene magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management in Arts (MA of Arts) and a Bachelor degree in Archaeology.