Above: Born In Flamez performing at Institut fuer Zukunft on Halloween. Photo: Lisanne Schulze.
Leipzig will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was the first European city I ever visited, the site of my first DJ gig outside the US, and the birthplace of the first large-scale music festival I ever attended, the Wave Gotik Treffen. Eight years later, I still love returning, because there’s just something about Leipzig.
WGT is not the city’s only attraction. Aside from the typical tourist traps, it houses a rich arts community, a plethora of hardcore left-wing activists, and a dedicated DIY underground party scene that consists of long-running queer events like Lumière Bleue as well as newly-established clubs like the Institut fuer Zukunft, which has already garnered word-of-mouth accolades as one of the best new clubs in Germany. Their regular bookings include Perc, Jam City, M.E.S.H. and Felix K., so I’d tend to agree—in fact, I liked the space so much that I collaborated on a party there this past Halloween. Besides clubbing, it always feels like there’s something cool or weird to do in the city, be it circuit-bending workshops (I still have scars on my fingers from a memorable bend at 2009’s Claws of Saurtopia noisefest) or picking wild garlic and mushrooms in the surrounding forests.
When I say that the party scene is underground, I mean it. It seems like most of the parties in Leipzig are your typical student gatherings, which means the music is either a standard house/techno combo or indielectro from 2009. Friends who live there often complain about the dire musical milieu, but as a mere visitor to the city, I find this limited availability of fresh sounds exciting. Being spoiled for choice in a place like Berlin often makes people complacent and jaded, but when you’re coming to a rare event, the night takes on a unique and beautiful aspect that’s better than any drink or drug.
The scarcity of the New and the Now is part of what makes doing parties in Leipzig such a wild experience. For the official Doom Over Leipzig 2013 afterparty, I was booked to play hard trap and hip-hop, which was a strange follow-up to a festival dedicated to doom metal and experimental music. Nevertheless, I’ve rarely seen a crowd go as hard as that evening. Leipzig may be quieter than Berlin, but there’s nowhere in the world that I’ve partied harder and dirtier.
For those who’ve never been but have read hype-zig articles about how it might be the “new Berlin”, be told: It is not. Leipzig is its own strange and electrifying self. Treat it as such, and you’ll find rare and beautiful things.