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.
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.
Pornceptual is launching its fourth magazine issue FUCK 2020 – a sentiment many of us can relate to – bringing us inclusive pornographic artwork by over 100 contributors from 33 countries and 5 continents.
Without a doubt, the pandemic has had a profound impact on our relationship with intimacy, human touch, and sex this past year. Through the lens of pornography and art, FUCK 2020 explores such topics by providing a platform to artists whose voices are not always heard, especially as the threat of online censorship continues to grow.
“Although turbulent, last year was historic, but sex was not always part of the narrative,” wrote the Pornceptual editorial team. “We can’t let these stories be forgotten, in particular the ones of marginalized sexualities.
It’s the news we have all been waiting for for months now: There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the seemingly endless lockdown of all nightlife and culture venues. As many media outlets reported yesterday, the Senate has announced to start re-opening venues for public events in combination with rapid covid tests. The first venues to be part of the trial are the big stages of Berlin including the Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper, Berliner Ensemble, Volksbühne, Philharmonie, and the Konzerthaus.
But what we are most excited about is that there will also be a trial at Holzmarkt’s Säälchen in collaboration with the Berliner Clubkommission. Hold your horses, it’s not a party, it’s “just” for a concert. But still. This is the first step we have been craving for, and if all goes well it will mean that soon more events can happen and more venues will be able to re-open.
photos: Kseniya Apresyan.
Berlin’s nightlife and music scene are holding their breath. And they have been doing this now for close to a year. What is usually the number one reason for people to come to Berlin from all over the world is now in a strange limbo the city has never seen before. Clubs and bars are closed – or at best turned into Covid test centers – stages are empty and all the people who normally come to these places to dance and celebrate are most likely at home – hopefully not alone.
These are unusual times, we have to completely rethink so many things. But while party kids and concert-goers will just find other ways to spend their time, it’s quite a different story for those people behind the scenes and on the DJ decks and stages of Berlin’s nightlife. They are all facing an uncertain future, many are out of work or have to start completely different careers to make a living, some even had to leave the city going back to their home countries. It’s a tragedy to think that those who build up Berlin’s reputation of having one of the most thriving and influential nightlife and music scenes are left with practically nothing during this pandemic.
The second lockdown is holding on to our sorry asses and it looks like it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It’s a bleak outlook, I know, but what can you do other than trying to make the best of it, right? Did I just hear you say: “Shut up!”? Well, fair enough.
I think I’m not exaggerating when I say this whole corona era has been a mixed bag. While some of us have our sanity hanging on a thin thread by now, others finally got the time they needed for self-fulfillment. I’ve seen people falling in the abyss of mental unwellness, while others keep on trucking with their lives as if nothing has happened. People’s responses to the pandemic and the lockdown could not be more divisive.
But how are you doing, dear iHeartBerlin reader? We were wondering about this so we sat together with our cherished collaborator Sophia Halamoda with whom we authored the fabulous Like A Berliner book and created a brand new personality quiz to find out what quarantine type you really are. It’s fully illustrated by the lovely Sophia, so make sure to check out all the cute little details in the drawings. We hope they can brighten your day a little.
Whatever your end result of this quiz might be, always remember, we’re all in this together and there will be another, happier day. Whenever that might be…
A few months ago I published a story about how the lockdown has seemed to have created a new dogma of system relevance that discriminates against arts and culture workers. This was a story very close to my heart and close to what matters to all of us at iHeartBerlin.
While some cultural institutions were able to re-open since then, although under challenging circumstances, the overall situation has not improved for the majority of the scene. Especially in the alternative and underground scenes, it’s still quite dramatic. While publicly funded institutions don’t really have to worry about going under, it’s those independent arts and culture makers that really have to fear for their livelihoods. Rents and bills still need to be paid, but to produce shows and events is still often not possible, and support programs by the government have so many blind spots and leave a lot of people behind or are simply not enough. For many, the situation is really serious. And considering we are only at the beginning of the second (most likely bigger) wave that will bring new challenges and restrictions you don’t even want to begin to imagine how much worse it could get.