Anonymous but true stories from the depths of the dancefloor. All illustrations by Wayne Shellabarger.
I’m not exactly a stranger to the world of kink, having worked in a BDSM club in my younger years (in a DJ capacity; you wouldn’t believe how quickly Nine Inch Nails becomes boring), so I wasn’t fazed by my first time walking into Gegen, an experimental queerdo party that takes place at the legendary Berlin sex club KitKat. What did faze me was the enormous amount of MDMA placed in my water bottle. By 3AM my eyes were pinpoints, my vision tinted red, and my clothes behind the DJ booth as I worked the stripper pole with gusto and a monster toad that couldn’t be cucked. Twenty minutes later my hands were covered in blisters, and I had bruises on my backside, but that didn’t stop me from having a conversation in my underwear with the editor-in-chief of a local culture magazine. He later assured me I was “surprisingly erudite and coherent.”
It happened after a long party weekend at Ostgut, and because I worked there, for me, partying and working was in fact the same. I started working Friday night, I stopped working, I went to an afterparty and I came Saturday evening to party again. Then I stayed until the morning. Next door to Ostgut there was this sex club, Lab.oratory—which is still there today at Berghain. I remember that I went to the afterparty in The Lab to have some fun there. Then I wanted to go back to the Ostgut garden and I discovered that I had lost all my clothes. The only things I had left on me were my shoes, so I had to think how to get back to the party. I was not tired, totally high, of course, and no one could tell me what happened. And I don’t remember. They put these old cloths on the sofa which should make it more beautiful, but in places like this, they are totally filthy and ugly. So I took one of those cloths, I put it around me like a toga and somebody unlocked the door back to Ostgut for me, and I went to the garden and appeared there like Mahatma Gandhi or Jesus and people started somehow ‘worshipping’ me. It was pretty crazy, and really embarrassing. The party was so good, I lost my clothes!
It was my second time at Gegen, and I might have been high on molly. I went into the dark room and every man that I encountered there, I was like, “Okay!” At some point, I realized that I had actually spent FOUR HOURS in there.
A few years ago I was on tour, and had stopped off to do a gig in Slovakia’s Subclub, which takes place in a bunker set into the side of a hill beneath a castle and comes complete with exactly the sort of sound issues inherent in running a club in a space like that. ANYWAY, I’d just finished playing and was grabbing a drink at the bar when two cute female fans decided to grab me instead. I was dragged into the bathroom, drugged inside a stall, and fucked against a wall (which was audible in the hall). About halfway through my second performance of the night, there was a rattle on the door, then a loud SLAM as the door was shoved open, knocking two of us down. There stood the promoter in all her aged dignity, staring coldly at our three dazed and contused buttocks. “This is NOT the kind of party I do,” she said, before storming out. We later found out she’d left the party entirely for the evening. I still got paid though, which just goes to prove that basic instincts are always the way to go.
My friend was leaving Berlin for good, so I decided to join her and her mate for another Sunday night blow-out. This meant another night of beers and Kater Holzig. Already wretchedly drunk, once inside we went for the holy trinity of MDMA, speed, and more MDMA. The next thing we know, the sun was beating down on our pale faces, our eyes straining against the sun. It was so hot that the River Spree, which normally looks like a seeping, infected laceration across the city’s pockmarked face, looked like a forest stream—crisp and inviting. My friend peeled off her clothes and jumped in. As people cheered, the attention was turned to me. “JUMP! JUMP!” the sadists screamed. Easily swayed by fleeting fame, I removed my DMs and jumped on in. As soon as I hit the water, I realized my mistake. I’m asthmatic and as a child had chronic eczema; I have never, ever had a school swimming lesson in my life. I cannot swim beyond a scrappy doggy paddle and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the cold smack of the chill, stagnant water. I thrashed in panic, the stinking water going in my mouth, my eyes. My friend, lithe and a lot younger than me, pulled herself out and offered motivational words as I grasped at the concrete lip of the embankment three feet higher than me. A kind man, vertiginously high on a cocktail of drugs, tried to pull me but had to give up, and I fell back, pathetically, into the murk. Another, more sober, man appeared and guided me to the steps which were hidden but just a few strokes away. I allowed myself to be led by the current, gripping onto the metal slats just in time (a few seconds later and I would’ve been carried downriver, to the toxic zones where the river is lined by heavy industry). I climbed out, with his help, my legs streaked with red rivulets as the brown water made my blood run thinner and faster. The stranger sat me down while he ran to the bar for a first aid kit. As he peeled the ancient plasters from their dusty packaging he comforted me. “This happened to me when I was sailing,” he said generously. I wanted to marry him.
I wish my story ended there. However, anyone who’s consumed drugs will know that the smallest spike of adrenalin tends to make MDMA work in overdrive, turbo-charging the high into a series of dizzying rushes. Gripped by this bittersweet oblivion I decided to remove my bra and allow my clothes to dry. This felt normal, arcadian even. I was in the middle of a club at 8am, topless. Sadly, my friend told me to put my top back on because the bouncer was looking for us. We made a crude pantomime of hiding as security scanned the club from various vantage points, and I started to cry to myself—but I quickly forgot why. I called my partner who was mad at me. I said I would get a taxi home right away.
I never got that taxi. Instead, easily distracted and dizzy with fast encroaching shock and chemicals, my friend and I thought it was a mark of fate when we found two baggies, within meters of each other, each dusted with a tiny amount of white powder. “Shall we?”
Reader, we did. But as we made our way to the dancefloor the world started spinning sickeningly. I hit the deck with a velocity that left me seeing white. “ON NO, IT WAS KETAMINE!” my friend exclaimed, before telling me to lay on my back. She sat down by me and shifted my head into her lap, stroked my hair, said it would be “fine, babes.” I started freaking out about my glasses, which seemed to be made of the most mathematically improbable angles. Maths itself became a fixture of my racing, disassociated brain. I begged my friend to explain what came after two, and why. My head swam and my stomach churned. She finally got me to my feet and slung my limp arm about her shoulders, leading me inside the club, to the safety of the sofas, the kind anonymity of dark. As we stumbled across the ten or so meters of Kater Holzig’s outdoor terrace, I lifted my head and looked out across my fellow club goers, absolutely beaten. A pair of eyes met mine, it was the man who had saved me from the river. I tried to smile, but he—and I will never forget this—turned his face away, a look of abject disappointment crossing his face. ~