Clubs without Dancing: What Berlin’s Clubs are Doing Without Raves
Halle, photo: Roman März.
There are many more reasons to come to Berlin apart from the clubs, but they are certainly some of the most popular. Techno has its roots in Detroit and the Afrofuturism movement, but the name and widespread popularity today has to do with what it evolved in Berlin.
Although these parties are still relatively underground in many cities, Berlin has embraced rave culture and built a special relationship with its clubs and their audiences. Berghain has already obtained the legal status of cultural institution, and other clubs are fighting for the same. Tourists to the club are also valued by the city government as a major contribution to the economy.
With the easing of the lockdown, this situation has strangely reversed: countries like France and Hungary already have large club nights that are barely regulated while Berlin clubs are still only allowed to stay open during the day, strictly without dancing. As a result, they have been creative in finding new uses for their spaces. At the same time, the city’s underground rave culture has undergone a renaissance, and illegal or disguised dance parties are mushrooming throughout the city. This series is about how clubs and ravers have adapted to the new normal.
Clubs without dancing
While it’s probably possible to have a fun night out at the club without these elements, the way it usually worked in Berlin involved a lot of closeness to sweaty strangers, breathing the same air, potentially exchanging bodily fluids, and generally not keeping not the Abstand. These evenings were as much a celebration of relaxing boundaries and random intimacy as they were of the music itself.
The only exception that comes to mind is the cybergoth subculture of the late 90s, which probably already perfected by dancing two meters away while wearing masks, gloves and other protective gear. One can only wonder if there are any left and how long a lockdown would take to bring the scene back.
Sektgarten, photo: on white
In the meantime, one of the most common responses from clubs is to reopen as Biergartens: many of them have large, interesting gardens and other open spaces that lend themselves to sitting with a drink in hand. . The less emphasis on alcohol and the larger spaces provide an interesting alternative to the sidewalk in front of the bars.
Some have gone further and have special events planned:
Berghain opened Halle with the Eleven Songs audio installation by Tamtam to shake cobwebs from concrete. They also open the garden on Saturdays.
Wilde renate now hosts Overmorrow, an immersive three-month installation created by more than 40 artists from different stages and communities of Berlin. Their courtyard also hosts a Biergarten and an exhibition of oil paintings.
Tomorrow, photo: Wilde Renate
Gretchen hosts an organized series of outdoor concerts, aptly named Living in a Box, which regularly features well-known and up-and-coming artists.
: //about white offered workshops and a Sektgarden. Last weekend they also wanted to try out a new user-friendly concept for Buttons and Pornceptual that involved time slots, but the weather had other plans.
Kater blau also organized workshops in addition to drinks during the day. For this weekend, they are planning a review and “acid bingo”.
Sisyphus is open as a restaurant which also hosts bingo and a night flea market.
“Sitziphos”, photo: Sisyphos
The new events are definitely popular with both regulars and newcomers to the clubs. Judging from social media, many people also had their first chance to experience the carefully organized spaces of Berlin clubs without having to negotiate with sphinx bouncers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the day and week events got bigger after the lockdown. But what about the people whose priorities were music and the dance floors? You can find out in the next article in this series.
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Text: Daniel Corsano
Daniel Corsano is a journalist, freelance writer and art critic living and working in Berlin.
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