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.
photos: Gili Shani.
After Berlin clubs closed their doors to their worshippers during the ongoing global pandemic, many kink lovers who found their refuge in these sanctuaries had to get more creative to maintain their inner desires. The legendary KitKat pool had to be replaced by our bathtubs and our music in compliance with the Hausordnung. The nascent lockdown rules were getting tougher and the end of the tunnel was getting more blurry along the way.
During this difficult time, Gili Shani, the only person who was allowed to take photos at KitKat Club, photographed 250 people in their houses, who were willing to show their kink for his book Voyeur. Berlin. Kinky. He drove all around Berlin to capture these intimate moments inspired by the pre-pandemic kink scene. With a sexually suggestive front cover of a lower front tattoo that says “fuck”, the book is already promising. Through Shani’s lens, these domestic shots reflect nothing different from a moment in KitKat; a man in a harness kneeling before the camera and a domina ready to spank someone in another photo. After all, you can get the Berliner out of the club but you can not get the kink out of Berliners.
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.
photo: Burg Schnabel.
Yesterday has been a historic moment for Berlin. In what can only be described as the best news of the week the Berlin building and planning committee has declared clubs as cultural spaces putting them in the same category as theaters and operas, and no longer places of entertainment such as casinos and brothels.
This is a milestone accomplishment that was made possible by the work of a parliamentary forum titled #Clubkultur consisting of members from Berlin’s ruling parties SPD, Die Linke, and Grüne in collaboration with members of the CDU that fought for this for over a year. Only the political parties AfD and FDP voted against this (take note, dear voters…) which is no surprise, but also didn’t matter enough to stop this.
Even though clubs have been closed for over a year now, surprisingly, we haven’t really run short on news about Berlin’s famous nightlife places. From photography projects on clubber outfits, empty dancefloors, or outdoor raving, to virtual clubs and nightlife activism – there is always something to write about. And we are glad to keep the spirit alive this way, even though we’re all really craving for a party right now.
Artist and illustrator Nicola Napoli has also dedicated some of his time during the lockdown to work on a new nightlife-related piece. He’s blessed us already with various party-themed artworks in the past, but his most notable work might be the iconic line at Berghain that he first came out with back in 2014. It was one of our most successful articles of the time and it prompted a collaborative event and exhibition that we hosted together with him showcasing a new elaborate 10-meter long artwork.
If you thought that the DJ streams of United We Stream, digital drag shows on Twitch, and the Minecraft versions of Berghain and Griesmuehle were the last efforts at bringing Berlin’s nightlife into the virtual space, you should think again. With Rave Space, a cutting-edge project from Berlin, a new virtual club will open its doors this weekend and it’s looking to be quite an impressive experience.
A few weeks ago we had the chance to step into this virtual club already to get a first impression. Of course, with the recent Griesmuehle event inside the Minecraft environment, we expected something rather quirky, but to our surprise, this was quite a different affair.
photo: Keith Telfeyan.
While the effective vaccine rollout has already brought back some normalcy to people in the UK, Germany is still struggling with the pandemic and tries to tackle it with various new restrictions. These change so often that they’re sometimes hard to keep track of, and according to some, they’re not exclusively targeting the riskiest behaviors. That’s the view of Clubcomission Berlin, which, in their latest statement, criticizes the ban on organized open-air events.
photos: Aja Jacques.
It takes a lot of effort for an artist to build up a career. Berlin has undoubtedly been a center of avant-garde artists from all around the world, offering a unique platform for innovative and unstigmatized arts. However, during the last year of the Covid lockdowns, they had to sacrifice what they have built-in years. Berlin artists embellished our nightlife and arts scene with their diverse and original touch but now with no jobs, no stages, and no live audiences, they are stripped off of their platforms even though their art still radiates talent and creativity.
The photographer and former performance artist Aja Jacques created Berlin Offstage after spending the last three months interviewing and photographing some of these artists in their homes and leads us through a series of vignettes of their fears and concerns. Jacques aims to create an open space for public discussions about the struggles of the art community in Berlin that has been left in the lurch during the pandemic.
With lockdown being extended every few weeks and more intense measures implemented in seemingly fruitless attempts to minimize COVID infections, we’re all looking for a way to unwind. I’m sure everyone would enjoy a normal party right now; being able to listen to music, dance, and drink with friends without constant fear of the virus. We may all crave it, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair considering our current circumstances. And it definitely doesn’t mean a party full of famous people will go unnoticed in this climate.
Italian luxury fashion house, Bottega Veneta, is facing intense criticism after hosting a fashion show presenting their Salon 02 collection in the concrete halls of Berghain, followed by an afterparty at the Soho House in Mitte on Friday. Local celebrities like Oumi Janta, Honey Dijon, and Sven Marquart were in attendance, as well as more internationally known names such as rappers Skepta, Slowthai, and Burna Boy, American designer, Virgil Abloh, and Daniel Lee, creative director of Bottega Veneta. Photos and videos of the Soho House afterparty were shared on social media, showing no social distancing, masks, or compliance with the increasingly strict lockdown measures.
photos: Marie Staggat.
It was only a few months after I moved to the city that I was eager to discover the infamous Berlin clubs as a fresh Berliner. I was neither a techno listener nor a raver at the time, but I heard ample amounts of folktales about Berlin clubs that excited me from the beginning. It had only been a few months and somehow I managed to get into Berghain. I was thrilled amateurishly. Not knowing what would befall me, I was feeling confused but eager to partake concurrently. Little did I know that in the following months, Berlin nightclubs would become an inseparable part of my life. Among dancing, sweating, intimacy, and giving in to the moment, they became my Mecca for a sex-positive environment where I did not have to pretend anything other than my very queer self.
However, last year at the peak of the pandemic in our city, silence hit the walls of our clubs and they were left to utter solitude imminently. Photographer Marie Staggat and journalist Timo Stein capture these unrecognizable club spaces and tumultuous silence in their new photobook HUSH: Club Culture In Times Of Silence. From April 2020 to December 2020, they collected their impressions of abandoned clubs in 360 pages of interviews, observations, and photos, and they reflect the inevitable despair highlighted by strong optimism.