It feels like Berlin’s nightlife has been on hold for so long now, we can’t even remember how a club looks and smells on the inside. While the few clubs blessed with an outdoor area are shyly and quietly hosting some open-air parties this summer giving at least a small part of Berlin clubbers a bit of dancefloor magic, the majority of clubs that only have indoor dancefloors (which are about 75%) are now shut down for over a year.
Of course, this has totally created an imbalance. For the clubs, because those that don’t have the luxury of outdoor space are clearly at a disadvantage here, but also for clubbers because since there are so few options for legal parties that many organizers decided to keep their events on the low, or even if they publicly announce them, tickets sell out within hours which leaves many willing ravers without access to all the fun. This, too, seems pretty unfair.
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.
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.
photos: Megan Auer.
Berlin is undoubtedly a hedonistic city. It’s known for its wild sex clubs, indulgent late-night food culture, excessive drinking, and the legalization of sex work. Despite this sinful reputation, sex workers in Berlin still face much of the same stigma they encounter elsewhere. Berlin Strippers Collective (BSC) is an organization of strippers living in Berlin, working to tell their stories through art and events, while always advocating and fighting for their ultimate goal: decriminalization. Read on…
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.
Berliners love to recycle. We love a factory-converted-club or just getting that Pfandbon from all the bottles from last weekend. Well, this summer Berlin is recycling another event space rife with the memories of parties past. Built over 200 years ago and once called the “Sanssouci of the East,” the ZENNER House was one of the go-to spots for party animals of the 1800s. The Villa was home to celebrations such as the Stralauer Fischung and the Loveparade, one of the city’s wildest festivals, which was banned in 1873. The ZENNER is scheduled to open a 1,500 seat Biergarten on the banks of the Spree in Treptower Park this May under the management of Sebastian Heil and Tony Ettelt, previous operators of two already well-renowned Berlin venues: Salon Zur Wilde Renate and Else.
OVERMORROW IS BACK for an extra special Halloween edition … OVERHORROR!
OverHorror is a new immersive walkthrough performance & art experience at Wilde Renate. Over 100 artists from a wide variety of art-collectives like Bad Bruises and TrashEra have created this spookalicious experience.
STRICTLY ADULTS ONLY.
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.
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.