Berlin clubs have reopened with new daytime concepts tailored to Corona, but one key element is missing: dancing. This has made Berliners deconstruct the idea of clubbing and ask themselves what they were looking for in clubs before and where they can find it now.
At the risk of stating the obvious, dance is an integral part of the club’s culture. It’s fun, it’s a way to enjoy music, and it’s refreshing not to just sit and have a conversation all the time while drunk. Therefore, the lockdown has given new life to the recently somewhat neglected illegal rave culture. The second part of this series explores the illegal, private and spontaneous dance parties that have erupted across the city and the controversies surrounding them.
Dancing without clubs
The first thing I encountered since the lockdown that one could call a party, even if it wasn’t intended as such, was the infamous boat demonstration to save Berlin’s club culture. The event was the subject of much discussion, mostly not in a positive light. Even people who are normally pro-rave have spoken out against the gruesome images of crowds of non-delusional people nearby in a non-rave.
The crowds of people on the banks of the canal have probably done little to reduce the rate of reinfection. But I think it’s important to distinguish that from boating itself which can be an incredible foreclosure activity. And there’s something about relaxing in a boat with members of your house, and a good bluetooth speaker that satisfies those same raving cravings.
Berlin has more waterways than any other city in the world, including Venice. It created a unique culture of floating among swans in rubber dinghies. And most people who have recently invested in one of them have done so with people they are already intimate with. So as long as people don’t get on each other’s boats, it’s actually a fun and natural way to keep the Abstand while soaking up the sun.
After the boat demonstration and other public events, including the reopening of churches, and the rate of reinfection did not explode, small private and secret dance parties began to appear. Most of them involved relatively few people and weren’t bothered by the police, but sometimes a larger one gets into the news.
Tempelhof, Berlin’s largest park, became even more of a hub of activity during the lockdown. The east and south sides have street musicians, loudspeakers, and people dancing almost every day, but there is plenty of space to keep a safe distance and crowds tend to disperse when the park is closes anyway.
There have been other events organized here as well:
- Dose of Pleasure is a series of movement meditation events (which can be classified as dance)
- Social Disdancing was sort of a silent disco with basic rules of social distancing
- Two weekends ago there was a real drag race but the police stopped it and the event had to move to Hasenheide
Hasenheide also became a center of activity, and sometimes a group of spontaneous raves after Tempelhof closed its doors and the crowds passed through Columbiadamm. Whoever was arrested by police two weeks ago is said to have had around 3,000 people in attendance, and estimates for last weekend’s crowds are in the hundreds. This number of people gathered in one place when the law only allows events of up to 1,000 people may seem, according to some German journalists, suicidal and anti-social. However, this deserves some explanation.
Hasenheide is one of the largest and liveliest parks in the city which is why it is so ideal for spontaneous dance parties, especially at night. There isn’t one but at least five big fields that make great dance floors, and lots of smaller ones. These 3,000 or so people were not all crammed together but spread relatively evenly among them. And it was the day of the CSD (who did a decent job of keeping the rules at bay), with great weather, so the park was already full before any frenzy took place. Finally, there were at least 4 much smaller and relatively private parties in other places on the same night, all closed by the police. Many of these people and speakers also gathered at Hasenheide.
And the point is that, despite all the parties, the infection rate in Berlin is well below the national average. Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, for example, have a rate per 100,000 inhabitants about 50% higher than in Berlin. Having lived in Baden-Württemberg for a while, I’m not sure what risky activities are going on there that aren’t in Berlin, but the numbers don’t lie. Maybe the ravers balance the scales by staying home with a hangover for three days after the party?
I’m not saying these things justify delusions in the park, but maybe they explain better how 3,000 people get there than to pretend they’re all suicidal and anti-social. People seem increasingly unhappy with the new normal, especially the somewhat arbitrary ban on dancing. Even politicians are appeal to local government to designate safe spaces for regulated but legal outdoor events.
Raves are almost impossible to ban because the difference between a picnic with a speaker and a rave with a picnic blanket is very subjective and largely depends on the quality of the speaker and the size of the speaker. the crowd. And since techno music in Berlin tends to attract bigger crowds and better speakers, these events end up feeling more like raves than events with softer music.
Berlin has, for decades, embraced rave culture and everything that goes with it, including much needed club tax dollars and the economic revival of club tourism. It has become one of the freest cities in the world and now has to contend with the freedom-loving, provocative and exuberant locals it has attracted. Ultimately, the ravers will rave about it, and the government will either have to relax its dance regulations or accept the return of unregulated dance. I recommend the government sponsored cybergoth parties.
* * *
Text: Daniel Corsano
Daniel Corsano is a journalist, freelance writer and art critic living and working in Berlin.
Diesen Artikel auf deutsch lesen.