If we can’t dance in Berlin clubs, at least we can watch a documentary about clubbing there, right? With the corona regulations operating a club has become really difficult and this is threatening the one thing that has put Berlin on the map worldwide in the last couple of decades. While everything is back open again after the endless lockdown, clubs are still the one type of place that is still not allowed to open. It’s not that that is not understandable – but it doesn’t make it any better or fair for the people behind it.
The new documentary Clubkultur by filmmakers Leonie Gerner and Andrea Schumacher for Hauptstadt.tv shines a light on the importance of the Berlin club scene with various interviews with club owners, nightlife artists, DJs, and musicians, but also politicians and the Berlin Clubcommission. We also get to see a lot of footage from some wild Berlin nights that make us super nostalgic and that feel like they are from a distant time decades in the past.
photo: Birgit & Bier.
Despite many different efforts and many alternative concepts, it’s the Berlin club scene that is probably suffering the most from Berlin’s cultural landscape during the pandemic as the majority of the places have been locked down now for over a year. While their future is in the balance and a re-opening for indoor partying is not really inside, at least a political movement has managed that they are recognized as places of culture which makes a big difference for them when it comes to taxes and funding.
But the Berlin nightlife scene has always been inventive, so pretty much like last year after the first lockdown where the few clubs that have the luxury of an outdoor area came up with alternative usage concepts such as beer gardens to be able to partially re-open over the summer, the same thing is happening right now with the first clubs already open again for guests.
Completely unrelated to the ongoing pandemic, the beloved Neukölln club Griessmuehle had to close down a year ago for reasons you can read up about here. It was a blow to the nightlife scene of Berlin as it stood for the worrying recent city developments of Berlin and the ongoing club closings we’ve witnessed now for a decade and more. The city is full of night clubs but oddly the popular district of Neukölln doesn’t really have that many, so it was a major loss for the party kids of the neighborhood.
Luckily, the club makers of Griessmuehle could move their outstanding programming to Alte Münze last year and also found a new location in Schöneweide at the Revier Südost. But with the permission for outdoor raves coming relatively late last summer, there was not much raving to happening.
According to a Facebook and Instagram post, the legendary Berlin fetish club KitKat will be offering rapid corona tests starting this Friday the 4th of December for only 25 euros. Rapid corona tests are basically impossible to get in Berlin and COVID tests usually cost around 150 euros. In line with the club’s hedonistic reputation, the post asked guests to “come naked and wild,” but quickly amended that admitting that although it would be funny, a line of naked people around the block would probably lead to legal action against the club because of suspected illegal parties. The post indicated that KitKat thought rapid tests would be extremely important for the reopening of nightlife despite a vaccine on the horizon. All the tests will be administered by medical professionals.
The clubs of Berlin have reopened with new, Corona-friendly daytime concepts but one key element is missing: dancing. This has forced Berliners to deconstruct the idea of clubbing and ask themselves what they were searching for in clubs before and where they can find it now.
At the risk of stating the obvious, dancing is a big part of club culture. It is fun, it is a way to enjoy the music, and it is refreshing not to sit straight and hold a conversation all the time while being intoxicated. Consequently, the lockdown gave new life to the recently somewhat neglected illegal rave culture. The second part of this series investigates the illegal, private, and spontaneous dance parties that have been popping up all over the city and the controversies surrounding them.
Halle, photo: Roman März.
There are many other reasons to come to Berlin apart from the clubs but they are definitely among the most popular ones. Techno has its roots in Detroit and the Afrofuturism movement but both the name and the current widespread popularity have to do with what it evolved into in Berlin.
While these parties are still relatively underground in many cities, Berlin has embraced rave culture and built a special relationship with its clubs and their audience. Berghain has already secured legal status as a cultural institution, and other clubs are fighting for the same. Club tourists are also valued by the city’s government as a major contribution to the economy.
Wilden Renate’s Overmorrow is an immersive walkthrough art experience created by over 40 artists, from well-known collectives like Bad Bruises and TrashEra to newcomers. The installations, performances, and exhibitions occupy most of the indoor spaces of Wilde Renate, and offer about 1 hour of exploration in dark, morphing spaces.
The audience enters in groups of two, with 5-minute intervals, which is about the time allocated to each room, and makes their way through the 17 interwoven “Positions.” The Positions range from exhibitions of oil paintings through interactive installations to performances, and are loosely tied together by the themes of isolation and future. They often overlap, reflect on each other, and can be seen or heard in advance, which adds to the dreamlike nature of the journey.
Summer is slowly awakening Berlin from the long winter sleep and many people miss the long nights out with their friends in their favorite clubs. While many clubs are now proposing outdoor beer garden concepts, this might not be the perfect solution for the passionate raver and dancer among us.
It’s not a surprise that the amount of illegal raves at Hasenheide and in the forests surrounding the city has increased dramatically over the last weeks. Many might not feel comfortable with the idea of throwing themselves into a big crowd of strangers. Others can’t suppress their desire anymore for a night out with music and dancing. It feels a bit twisted that something so natural like dancing together has to be postponed to an unknown future. Yet the Pandemic is not over and the international development of numbers shows that the world is still in a fragile state.
photo: Spyrosdrakopoulos / CC BY-SA.
YAAM, the unique cultural venue at the banks of the Spree by Ostbahnhof providing a space for BPoCs living in Berlin, was forced to vacate its premises this week – no matter its legal background or intentions, there has never been a worse time in history for public officials to suddenly close a black venue!
The stability of the bank wall, the venue is built on, would no longer be guaranteed – an official static report stated. While legal justifications might make things sound a lil cuter – closing a club space on a more than lucrative real estate property… we all will assume just one thing, won’t we? – however, the timing of these events almost seems like a fairly bad joke. Like – whoever gave the instruction to make representatives of YAAM clear its indoor spaces – “You do read the news, right?!”
photo: Birgit & Bier.
Our fingers are itching. After months of staring at the woodchip wallpaper of our Berlin flats, we have “BOCK” as we like to say in German (which means to be very much in the mood for something). Bock, to go out again. Bock to sway to smooth electronic or raging techno beats while moving our bodies, sipping on a cold beer. Normally the Berlin crowd is used to completely different circumstances at the start of the summer party season when the painful question is, what party to attend, instead of none at all.
This year everything is different. Or least we thought so. After Berlin’s motivated party crowd heavy heartedly accepted the no-clubbing-corona-rules for 2020, there now appears to be hope. Little by little the bigger clubs with an outside area are opening their gardens! At first only for gastronomy purposes with strict “no dancing” rules, but that’s enough to give our grieving party community a glimmer of hope.
Note: Please consult the corresponding social media pages of each club for any changes in regards to their opening times. These might change according to the weather and the current situation.