Heideglühen is the Best Berlin Party You’ve Never Heard Of

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With the world's attention focused on Berghain, a team of rave-seasoned Berliners have created a DIY party that escapes the purview of the EasyJet set. Through the bushes and behind a gas station in an isolated pocket of Berlin, Heideglühen is one of the city's best-kept clubbing secrets. Resident DJ Woody explains the origins of a space open for veterans and newcomers alike.

I moved to Berlin in 1991. I came from Munich, where the government was more conservative and strict. I was reared on funk, soul and hip-hop, so I like a good groove and a sense of sexiness, but these vibes can be found in techno, dub and many other genres. I was really young, 18 or something, when I moved north. Hilke Saul, one of the owners of Planet and E-Werk, saw something in me. I was really lucky to catch her eye because these venues played a big part in shaping Berlin club culture in the ’90s. I was made a resident at Planet before it closed in ’93, and then six months later we moved to the new location, E-Werk, where I was a resident until it shut its doors in ’97. People were coming from everywhere to party at E-Werk. Maybe we could call them the first techno jet set. Of course, Berlin changed a lot in the next few years. Those old spaces that we could call our own became something else, or ceased to exist altogether.

Heideglühen didn’t start in a club venue, but rather in the backyard of Julian Schulz’s workshop. He works with metal and furniture and builds structures for galleries, artists and clubs. In the back there was a little space that he renovated into a hangout for himself and his friends, and I had my 40th birthday party there. I invited Radio Slave and some other DJs and took care of the sound system and flyers. We didn’t expect it to be so good. Julian said, “Let’s do it again.” That was three years ago on Heidestraße, where we got the “Heide” name. “Glühen” means “to glow.” In Germany we say vorglühen for when you meet friends and have some drinks to get in the mood before going out.

Heideglühen is our instinctive reaction to spending so many years in Berlin. We needed a place like a living room, somewhere to feel free and at home. A place to turn the night into day. Some people have said that Heideglühen reminds them of the early days of Bar 25, which is a cool comparison, but currently there aren’t so many places in Berlin that do what we do. With Heideglühen, I think we found a place to bring people from different generations together again. This is the spot where a lot of friends from the ’90s and the beginnings of Berlin techno come together. That was the point. Sure, there’s new people coming to every party, and especially younger people, but we like this mix. It’s not only the old-school. Everybody’s welcome at Heideglühen, but they have to be friendly. That’s why the party is so real and people can feel it. Our audience is really open. They know there’ll be quality music, even when we don’t post the line-up. We have a nice crew and make the parties fun for ourselves, and maybe that’s why people can sense the authenticity. It feels like an innocent place where everything is possible.

We’ve been in a new location since last summer. At first there was nothing there; it was just an empty space in Wedding. Julian and the Heide crew built everything from scratch: the building, the dancefloor, the backyard, the garden—everything. We weren’t sure whether the new location was going to have the same magic as the original, but we trusted Julian’s vision. And it grew from party to party. We made it better and better. Without Julian’s construction there wouldn’t even be a dance floor and I couldn’t have made so many nice bookings. So Heideglühen is very much a group effort. The team we have is really important.

We have a responsibility to provide something that Berliners were missing. The first Heideglühen was an amazing dream and a genuinely special place. It was difficult to make Heide 2.0, because people had a high standard. Sure, the current incarnation is different from the first but this change is also positive. You have to make the next step and not rest on your laurels or try to artificially recreate something that’s past. It’s always been magic, and that makes me really happy. There’s been no party where I said, “Hmm, this time was boring.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine. Click here to read more from past issues.


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