The German capital has long been regarded as clubbers’ paradise for the house and techno legions, but if you’re the kind of clubber who likes something a bit different, you’ve finally come to the right place.
Berlin has a well-deserved reputation as house and techno mecca; the choices for quality venues playing the spectrum of four to the floor are staggering, ranging from some of the most famous clubs, and DJs, in the world to secret, temporary and obscure happenings. While this spells clubbers’ paradise for a great deal of people, in the past complaints have been common that anyone looking for a different kind of club experience was left bereft. Even the rise of dubstep and the Horst years couldn’t fill that hole. But now, in 2013, it’s clear that the constantly changing demographic of the city is affecting its clubbing landscape, bringing it more in line with trends occurring elsewhere in the world. Here is one Berlin resident’s guide to five local club nights that have nothing to do with house or techno.
With the amount of Americans the city contains, living in Berlin is the second best thing to actually living in America itself. And while many are concerned about how the huge influx of young expatriates affects the city in some truly cringe-inducing ways, some long-term German locals are pleased with how a large percentage of these new residents have affected local culture, making it an international concern, and Janus—operated by two Americans, with a third, Lōtic, as resident DJ—falls in that category. The first Janus party debuted just over a year ago with Jersey club king DJ Sliink; subsequent events have featured the likes of Venus X, Total Freedom, Jam City, Slava, Ssion, Teengirl Fantasy and more. These kinds of hyper-modern, cross-genre club pollination sets occur regularly in New York, for instance, but while most of these DJs and producers are American, Europeans do clubbing better and that’s reflected here.
Creamcake proves that it’s not just the Americans that are in tune with the latest developments in club sounds, and reportedly came out of a queer party, so extra points for the memorable and coyly funny moniker. With headliners as diverse as Mykki Blanco, Trust, Kingdom, 18+ and Lil B—and occasional excursions to Munich with artists like Arca—Creamcake and Janus have a bit of overlap in booking, but mostly distinct audiences. Frankly, with two promoters pushing a similarly up-to-the-minute music agenda, it makes Berlin feel like the cultural world capital it’s touted as.
Basically the latest in a lineage of parties including Purge and #gHashtag, UnReaL (geddit?) seems to occupy a space that encompasses Tumblr-friendly goth, trap and airless, American dubstep—although they’d probably prefer their musical manifesto to be couched in less genre prescriptive terms. Given the above, a kind of dark, stylized swagger is probably what they’re going for.
[Full disclosure: UnReaL is part-operated by EB’s contributing editor Daniel Jones]
4) Noisekölln/Shameless Limitless
Noisekölln and Shameless Limitless are two separate promoters who operate more on the ‘gig’ side of things, but they often work together and as the former hosted Silent Servant’s dark synth-pop set and championed (the admittedly techno, but nonetheless excellent) DJ Richard and the latter hosted Fatima Al Qadiri‘s first Berlin performance, together they merit an entry.
[Full disclosure: Noisekölln is operated by EB contributor Michael Aniser]
5) Not Equal
Usually rendered as “N≠E”, this infrequent series always takes place in Berghain and is related to Leisure System (who also throw good parties, but whose closeness to house and techno disqualifies them from this list). Their most recent event saw Demdike Stare, Prurient and original junglist Randall, while their previous event centered around Chris & Cosey and featured an all original EBM set from DJ Hell. Coupled with UnReaL, it shows you how strong the post-industrial/goth mafia is in this town, which makes for some good, and different, parties.
I’m usually suspicious of parties that emphasize lifestyle over music, but Gegen is obviously special. This primarily queer, sex-positive bi-monthly takes place at Berlin’s fabled KitKatClub, and is probably one of the tamer events there, featuring a bit more clothing—although it’s definitely outside of the average clubgoing comfort zone (which is precisely what’s good about it). And while house or techno—or R&B, or gabba or whatever—might be played and it might not even be good, the liberated attitude and safe-space feeling pretty much guarantee a good night.
Definitely related to the city’s status as techno mecca is its dubious distinction as hedonistic neverland, where many old enough to be considered middle-aged are still taking drugs and dancing in dark clubs well into daylight hours. While the Sameheads crew are a good shout away from party menopause, they basically lead the pack in hedonism for the fringe dance crowd. Generally solid DJing—which does often fall into house, techno and disco—frames other, more unusual bookings (their most recent party featured a live set from Infinite Livez and a DJ set from Andy Votel) for a pretention-free and friendly event.~