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Ben Leander Willgruber, MSc.
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Berlin Club Culture Awakening in the Midst of Corona

Hola Chicas y Chicos!

I am back in Berlin again. During Corona quarantine, I felt more and more trapt at home and all I wanted was to get away. When I became a freelancer I already planned on working & traveling when it felt right. And boy, did I feel like coming back to Berlin! I wanted to get out of the small town and back into a larger realm. I wanted to have a lively summer and most importantly, I wanted to see my Berlin friends.

My life has been turbulent this past couple of weeks (although at this point I ask myself when it is not) and I am sure that I am gonna write more about that when everything settled and I have my thoughts ordered. At the moment, however, I am balancing processing everything that happened the past couple of months with distracting myself from all of it. I feel, I chose the perfect place to do that.

I knew that Berlin wouldn’t be the same as before

Berlin is more than its club culture, but: to me (and many other people) the techno/party scene is a vital part of what makes the city so wonderful. I didn’t know how it was gonna feel without that. The city hasn’t lost its spirit that everyone here can be whoever they want to be. The streets are filled with diverse people from all backgrounds and the air just breathes creativity and freedom. But I have to admit: Even though Berlin still has a vibrant bar and restaurant scene it does feel different than before. But the party scene hasn’t fallen asleep completely.

://about blank. Pornceptual x Buttons

One of the things I had on my list was the event hosted by Pornceptual and Buttons in the club ://about blank. None of us who went there knew exactly what it was gonna be like as information on social media was sparse. First thing going inside we had to put stickers on all our phone cameras which already reminded me (positively) of all the good times I’ve had in clubs in Berlin. Inside was a bizarre wonderland of performances and weirdness with a tad bit of party and music.

The garden of ://about blank was a lot bigger than I remembered it. There were different stations where all kinds of performances would take place over the course of the next four hours. In the spirit of Pornceptual many people dressed in sexy outfits that had collected dust over the couple of months. In a city where everything is acceptable the most shocking thing you could do was probably to cover yourself from head to toe in a white outfit. Later, I would find out that the guy doing this was a performer and visitors were allowed to paint on his clothes. There was also a wishing booth with a fortune teller, a guy doing a naked poetry slam, ballet in fetish gear, musical performances…

Berlin is a lot stricter when it comes to Corona than Austria, so you basically had to wear your masks everywhere that wasn’t your table. They tried to not make it that big of a party and I later found out that that was the case because the police was actually there the day before. After four hours of sweating in the sun and cooling off in the outdoor shower, the event was over, an all in all great experience and a good example of how you could still do events in Corona times.

Sisyphos. Tanzen am Strand

A week later my favorite club in Berlin, the Sisyphos, started hosting outdoor parties titled Tanzen am Strand (Dancing on the beach). The name is pretty much on point considering the beautiful garden of the techno club is designed to perfection with pizza stands, a sand beach, a pond with fish in it and even a wild hedgehog who was awakened by the closing fire show. Sisyphos was more relaxed than ://about blank, probably because they had no problems with the police (yet). All in all, it felt pretty much like a normal club night – except for it not being night time. Parties in Berlin are currently only allowed until 10 PM, afterward, they have to close it down, even though restaurants and bars are basically allowed to be opened constantly. I have no idea as to why that is because it just seems like the clubs are getting fucked the most during all of this.

I had some internal stress considering how I felt like I had to get the most out of the day if it actually did stop at 10 PM. Sisyphos also didn’t handle the situation that well. They built up a good atmosphere and music to dance to – there was a lot of energy – but after the finale, a 5-minute fire show, they just stopped, no music for ten minutes and then chillout tracks until midnight.

Inofficial raves

Yes, everyone in Berlin has heard about them, the illegal parties happening in homes, parks and basically anywhere else in the city. The same illegal parties that should make politicians realize: It might not be good to limit outdoor clubs as much as they’re doing it right now. When I heard of one happening, I knew I wanted to go. Outdoors it is easy to keep a distance, so it is probably even a safer way of partying than going to overcrowded bars.

The rave was happening in a forest over an hour outside of Berlin. We had to take the train outside to a station I’ve never even heard of and then walk about 20 minutes into the woods. It was a pitch-black night, there were no clear paths and there weren’t any lights. Maybe the biggest fear of mine was over-using the flashlight of my phone, running out of battery and having to find a way back without Google Maps (Spoiler: that didn’t happen). Somewhere inside this forest in a seemingly random place, there was everything you needed to have a party: great music, about 40-50 people, lights and happiness. The forest was the bathroom, the backpacks of the people the bar. When the sun started to rise and it finally felt safe to walk through the woods again was when this night ended for me.

All in all, I think that Berlin club owners are very smart in trying to somehow make this all work in Corona times. Perhaps, what makes this so hard and weird is that clubs and parties are usually not places where you’d want to be reminded of the world having large issues. And I get it, clubbing is not relevant to keep the system alive. However, just like other cultural events, parties are what help people escape their daily routines. And in the end, we’re talking about a branch that is vital for the image of Berlin and in serious danger of going bankrupt. We’ll see how all of this develops.

Ben Leander

You might be interested in:
Sharing a flat with 15 people in Berlin
Pros and Cons of Living in Berlin
Top 10 Clubs in Berlin

Compulsive nonconformist who left the 9-to-5 world after studying psychology and has since then devoted himself to design and writing on a freelance basis. Has at least four different kinds of chips at home at any given time.

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