Based in the small peripheral town of Ilirska Bistrica in southwestern Slovenia, Nada Žagar Youth Club (known by its Slovene acronym MKNŽ) is a club remarkable for its a very strong musical programme, frequently hosting very renowned bands from abroad. Furthermore, MKNŽ has been running such a programme for close to four decades, since the start of the 1980s. During its more than half a century of history, it has hosted more than 1500 bands.
The venue, accommodating some 200 people, is mostly used for live gigs. This non-profit organisation is run by a community of volunteers which harbours a strong do-it-yourself ethic.
Named after a WWII war hero, Nada Žagar Youth Club was established in 1966 as a youth club. During the first two decades or so, the club was used for various cultural and social activities. However, with time, the club started to incorporate somewhat more left-field cultural currents (from graffiti art to punk music) and up until the 1990s, it was predominantly a venue for hard-core and garage rock’n’roll. It also used to be the place were music zines were created and distributed.
Even though MKNŽ is stationed at the periphery, far from any urban centres, it has nevertheless been able to fill the auditorium. This was not only due to an uncharacteristically big underground music community but also the fact that even the residents of the larger cities of Ljubljana and Koper regularly visit MKNŽ gigs.
Today, MKNŽ caters to a wide range of genres even if hardcore, punk and rock’n’roll remain its forte. Concerts at the MKNŽ have featured the likes of Alboth! (CH), Blood On The Saddle (US), Helios Creed (US), Tromatism (FR), Hellcrusher (UK), The New Bomb Turks (US), Teengenerate (JP), Human Error (US), Anarcrust (Nederland), Cement (US), Hammerhead (US), Mule (US), Today Is The Day (US), Jeff Dahl (US), Dirt (UK), The Harries (NL), God Bullies (US), Cop Shoot Cop (US), Distract Vibes (Netherlands), Verbal Assault (US), DI (US), Inferno (DE), V-PUNK (DE), The Pietasters (US), Vandermark Five (US) as well as many Slovenian and ex-Yugoslav bands.
In recent years, it has hosted D. I., Hard Ons, Oi Polloi, The Lombego Surfers Hiatus, Doom, The Abigails, Burning Heads, Raketkanon and most of the underground Slovenian rock bands. The latter is also due to the fact that MKNŽ is a regular venue for the Club Marathon, organised annually by Radio Študent (RŠ). In recent years, MKNŽ started organising a complementary event to the Garage Explosion Festival, called Garage Explosion Afterparty, hosting some of the bands invited to the festival that otherwise takes place in Maribor.
Occasionally, other events take place at MKNŽ, from film screenings to travelogues, workshops and lectures.
In 2016, the club had a 50-year anniversary that was marked by a week-long celebration, featuring concerts, screenings and a photography exhibition. The latter was also presented elsewhere, for example, in Klub Baza Ajdovščina.
Furthermore, ethnographers and film-makers Manca Filak and Žiga Gorišek recorded a documentary about the club, called Mlada Nada! (Young Nada).