This is a flyer for Cocktail D’Amore, a Berlin party.
Saucy ads have become one of the staple features of the Cocktail D’Amore brand. The series’ in-house artist, a visual artist called GoldNSour, has produced one witty flyer for every Cocktail party that has occurred since the Italian DJ duo Discodromo founded the monthly gay bash with Berghain resident Boris in 2009. That’s about 60 suggestive promotional posters and GIFs of bondage bears (literally), peeing men, and kittens jumping around on a pair of turntables, plus about as many videos. One of the clips is embedded below, and you can see other clips he made for the party series here.
Additionally, there’s a handful of somewhat less-sexy (yet still provocative) designs that have appeared as artwork on the records the trio has released on its spinoff Cocktail D’Amore label. My favorites are the sweaty mustache from the imprint’s first sampler, and the deranged cartoon that Benedikt Rugar composed for its latest 12″, which is a compilation titled Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing.
This most recent record features contributions from previous headliners, artists who have released on the label in the past, and a few new faces, including PAN signee (and frequent Electronic Beats contributor) Heatsick, Swedish beatmaker Dorisburg, and house/disco champion Massimiliano Pagliara.
“Cocktail is always a colourful party,” Heatsick told us. “Be it when you turn around and see an acquaintance getting pissed on in front of the bar, and reclining their head back in full ecstasy, or when a random naked guy runs around at 6 a.m.” But he’s quick to point out that overt displays of sexual activity aren’t the most important or exciting aspects about the gathering—Cocktail D’Amore stands out on the strength of its music selections. In addition to stellar appearances from some of the artists featured on the compilation, the party series has hosted marathon sets from New York legend Joe Clausell and many memorable mixes from its resident DJs.
Longtime DJ, producer, and label owner Daniel Wang also captured the party series’ special magic in an essay he wrote for Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing, which will be included as fold-out liner notes with the physical release.
Wang wrote one of the first and most poignant pieces about Berghain and its predecessor, Ostgut, back in 2004, when he covered the club’s opening night at its new location. His keen ability to recreate a party’s particular vibe and environment makes his text about Cocktail D’Amore incredibly powerful and compelling, and Discodromo has vested us with the honor of hosting it, unedited and in full, below. Mind the (sic)s.
“For the past 7 years or so, I promised myself not to write ‘that novel about Berlin’.
Because when people say Berlin, they certainly don’t mean ‘Cabaret’, or GDR, or Christiane F. anymore. When people say Berlin now, they mean the present reality: post-Wall, techno along the Spree, cool breezy uninhibited metropolis, kebabs and Vietnamese noodles and ice cream on any corner for a few euros, if only you could move here too and have it so easy and go dancing every weekend at some crazy party until the sun rises and sets again. Or is Berlin ‘eine Wolke’, merely a cloud, as the old melody goes? Clouds look like different things in different people’s eyes.
Four or five gay boys whom i know might be preparing their own version of the Novel About Berlin which would, of course, be a guaranteed hit. There’s an Italian famous for his literary translations, and another less famous one who lives next-door to me; there are a few well-qualified Brits who just can’t seem to get it together, probably because they drink too much; there’s a handsome lanky boy from Sao Paulo studying philosophy at Humboldt. But i, both the Asian and the American, the outsider-insider, haven’t cashed in my chips yet.
I didn’t want to write about this so-called hedonistic utopian Berlin club scene any more because i didn’t want another person between the ages of 18 and 45 reading all this hype and moving here, only to get lost in the masses which have already swelled out of control, making it impossible for my friends to find a really cheap apartment ever again. Oops, that happened already.. e non é stata colpa mia.
Only if Giovanni hadn’t asked me to put a footnote inside the lining of this CD compilation for Cocktail d’Amore.
Gio with that beard and beautifully symmetrical cranium, with his voice of a California pot-head, although he actually comes from a little town in northern Italy. And Giacomo and Boris, his DJ partners in crime, whose collective past lives in Milan, Bologna, New York and some other strange places are surely the source of karma of their present disco reincarnation.
I’ve often asked myself why i miss Berlin whenever i have to fly away. Before my grandmother died last year at the age of 96, i’d go spend 8 or 9 days with her pent up inside a bland apartment for seniors, surrounded by the clean, sterile streets and shopping centers of suburban California. It was not a duty; it was out of pure affection. But i remember most clearly that urge each time i came home from SFO via LHR or FRA to TXL—running back into the smoky, sweaty, neon-lit bars and discos just to feel alive again—just to know that it will be a while yet until physical desire and rhythm are extinguished in my own body.
Whenever i’m not in Berlin (which is where you yourself, reading this text, probably are right now), the one party I miss attending most of all is Cocktail d’Amore. Some natives will surely protest: what about those afternoons in the garden at Homopatik, or Berghain’s never-ending Sundays, or that sleazy basement in Ficken 3000? They can all be sexy, i don’t disagree. Each person finds his own garden in this city.
But as the name so appropriately suggests, mixing up a proper drink to last you through these long nights is a delicate and peculiar task indeed.
How Cocktail d’Amore has managed to sustain its demographics so well and for so long is a mystery, but perhaps the answer is Love.
As Andrew Holleran (who surely would not rank below Isherwood among the Literary Saints of the Urban Homosexual) once wrote, to go the disco in 1975 was to enter a Democracy of Desire. And so it still is, here. Our friend Pindar, who designs visuals for the party, even projected excerpts from Holleran onto the walls all night when Cocktail briefly took place in a gigantic abandoned brewery deep in the middle of Neukölln.
The US-American paradigm of pornographic bodily conformity, perhaps the basis of mainstream gay life there and on the international ‘circuit’ at large, serves the curious function of obliterating the immigrant past of a nation whose grandparents had humbler European origins pre-dating the era of the tacky, self-hating WASP-wannabe fascism of Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie and Fitch. I think it is the genuineness of people in Berlin who are still in touch with their European roots which touches me. Perhaps being at Cocktail feels like joining the United Lovers’ League of Europe – that is what keeps pulling me back. Women are present too, the boys certainly welcome their presence. Not politely dressed female hipsters, i mean those fierce girls with tattoos wearing thread-bare leotards and Carneval beads, that handsome lesbian grrl with her chest as bare as any boy’s dancing up a storm in the month of March—i was applauding! But if you’ve ever read ‘Dancer From The Dance’, you know the hardcore tit-shakers. Those boys who live not merely for the party, but inside of it.
I am speaking far too generally. Every club in Berlin is United Nations now, and that is also what makes this city feel like a Beacon of Hope. Shouldn’t we humans all be dancing and sleeping together in one big endless happy orgy? But i don’t actually want to sleep with EVERY body. I am selfish, but i am also honest. Every time i enter the darkness of Cocktail d’Amore, I do look for certain eyes which will greet mine in return. I look forward to that moody German boy at the door, for when he smiles briefly, his blue-hazel eyes light up like sunshine in the Berlin winters. Those two lanky French boys in whose laughter i never fail to smell the joy of wine, cheese, and a pair of sweaty worn-out sneakers. That Italian who was still so young when he first arrived here, his Greek-statue brows and lips adorned by eyes like aquamarine jewels—he could only escape to a city like this one, for we know that, in the conservative province in which he grewup, he stuck out like a swan among sparrows. I want to see those two bearded boys who married last spring and who always hold each other while grinding their hips in synchronicity. If only all married people could keep on dancing like they do! I want to see certain scruffy Spaniards with their dark hair and bright eyes and nonsensical tattoos, and certain slightly vain German boys displaying their pale hard muscles fed on so much meat and beer. I’ve hardly ever spoken to some of them. We only acknowledge each other’s presence, but there is no need to seek more than that.
After kissing hello with any 4 or 5 or 10 of these compatriots, my neck and arms are smeared with their scents—musk, smoke, sandalwood, ambergris, pure sex secreted without intention. I am unspeakably happy every time i see these friends in their natural state of movement and desire, in their beauty and most of all in their imperfection, just as they are pleased to see me, imperfect, delighted by their presence. It is more like a family living room than any other environment i can think of, because there is a sense of familiarity and communality which has somehow remained undiluted by tourism, hipster-ism, or the need to earn money. It is held together by an unspoken passion, not merely by sex. Sure, you see an occasional blowjob in the basement or even on the dancefloor at 10 am, and we try not to look on—there are enough other distractions, luckily, such as the rainbow-like LED constellations installed by Emil and his loyal 50% German, 50% French team of 100% heterosexual technicians. Their comfortable co-existence with this nocturnal tribe would be a miracle of symbiosis in other countries; here, it is simply a natural condition.
But most of all, a public blow job means nothing here because the pleasure of motion is so much greater.
I love the way the music flows at Cocktail, without too much drama and personal statement, leaving so much aural space for the bodies on the dancefloor to do what they will. That sounds like Alistair Crowley: pagan rituals, worshipping the Beast, all that. No gospel choirs, no gimmicky digital noises, but rather a continuous stream of rhythm and bass—and this is no accident, because the Discodromo duo plays so much from physical instinct, with their fingers always on the pitch control, never too fast or too slow. Thus the clock stands still—and thus day remains night, and no one ever notices. Too much expression can end up turning into a chaotic soup; simplicity in aural and visual stimuli are an underrated virtue, one which is always respected here. I stay on the dancefloor at Cocktail, simply floating on these rhythms and this soft emotion, and stop wondering or worrying when it is ever supposed to end. It doesn’t end. So here is a love letter to my favourite Cocktail: grazie, ragazzi. Cincin—Prost—and Kampai! Let’s dance and enjoy the music. E tutta quella gente fuori di testa…”
– Daniel Wang, May 2014
Giorgio Moroder’s considerable contributions to disco and electronic dance music have long elevated him to the eminent position of godfather of various resulting subgenres. With his recent appearance on Daft Punk’s disco roots paean “Random Access Memories”, he’s gone beyond being merely a big name amongst techno and house intelligentsia to being a household name. In this piece from our recent Winter, 2013 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine, we ask him to give us his digits.
1 memorable line in a film or song:
“I love you like a love song, baby.” – Selena Gomez
2 decisions I regret:
– Not writing the score for the movie Fame.
– Not having invested in Apple.
3 sets of people that should collaborate:
– Democrats and Republicans
– Devil and Angels
– Moroder and Rihanna
4 things I haven’t done yet:
– Bungee jump
– Made a hole in one
5 things I used to believe:
– That Disco would never end… oops! It’s called EDM now.
– Santa Claus
– Tooth Fairy
– Easter Bunny
– Storks are where babies come from.
6 hours ago…
… I put together a new DJ set.
7 records everyone should own:
1. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
2. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
3. Donna Summer – Live and More
4. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
5. The Beatles – Abbey Road
6. Michael Jackson – Thriller
7. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley
After 8 p.m….
… I finish my Italian crossword puzzle that I started in the morning.
My 9 lives…
… 8 too many.
I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole…
… COCAINE. ~
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates as a music information source.
We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Down with that? Welcome to Editors’ Choice.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
Kanye East for Pussy Riot – “I Know That Pussy Riot Ain’t Free”
A surprisingly bangin’ track using the vocals of Kanye to highlight the fact that two members of Pussy Riot are still behind bars. Part of a larger effort by Female Pressure for the Pussy Riot Support Fund.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Todd Terje – “Spiral”
And the prize for the most seasonably inappropriate record goes to… No really, it appears our man Todd Terje never really left the Strandbar last summer. Despite the unchecked nostalgia that this is aiming for, there’s something slightly knowing about the Roland synths and the gated drum fills (about seven minutes in). Still, what did you expect from the ‘tached Norwegian? That debut can’t come soon enough.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
Egyptrixx – Music To… DRONE Out To
Yesterday was a pretty foggy day here in Berlin and walking to the office while listening to these drone-y sounds gave me sort of an extraordinary experience. Try it.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
OVRJYD – “Love Me”
Justin hasn’t sounded this good since NIKE7UP got his hands on yung Bieb’s pre-pomp puss. These sorts of total-reformat edits are the only way this kind of music is bearable to me, but sometimes I wonder about the people who are so in love with the originals and I imagine what it would be like if NIKE7UP started making remixes again. Maybe he would become famous, and all the original versions of these songs would fall out of favor and fade, and Bieber would only be heard pitched way, way up or way, way down. Possibly refracted into a multitude of audible ranges. NIKE7UP should start making remixes again.
BlackBlackGold – Getting Colder (Mix for FRAGILE)
Just in case you need another reason to celebrate the season!
A.J. Samuels (Senior Print Editor)
Planningtorock – “Human Drama” (Paula Temple “Gender’s Just a Lie” remix)
After a long hiatus, Paula Temple returned to form this year with her excellent Colonized EP. She’s now brought her hardness to Planningtorock’s “Human Drama” off the forthcoming album All Love’s Legal.
Havoc – 13
Prodigy – Albert Einstein
You don’t have to find Jesus, Prodigy will still leave you holy (his own words). This year saw both Mobb Deep members release solo albums which, while not perfect, certainly had their moments. Havoc mostly did his own production while Prodigy once again went to the Alchemist. Cool. But enough with the solo records, please give me what I need.
HTRK – “Give It Up”
Really looking forward to this whole album.
Jannik Schäfer (Social Media Editor)
Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – The Abstract & The Dragon Mixtape
The highly anticipated collaborative mixtape from two of hip-hop’s greatest dropped yesterday and it’s kind of what you would expect. A couple of unreleased tracks, a lot of classics and a lovely underlying vibe. There’s a skit that sounds as though Q-Tip is still down about what happened with ATCQ but trying to look ahead. Sadly, there are also a couple of YMCMB-infested tracks with awful DJ-shouting that remind me of the side of Busta Rhymes that I never liked. You know, the one that made tracks with the likes of Linkin Park, T-Pain or J-Biebs. On the other hand, it’s that same Busta that brings out the good in Lil’ Wayne or Nikki Minaj.
Madlib – “Hold the Organ” (from Rock Konducta Vol. 1)
Madlib is gradually releasing tracks off his latest Beat Konducta instrumental series release titled Rock Konducta Vol. 1. The final product consisting of Volumes 1 and 2 is set to be released in spring and draws from various underground rock scenes from the sixties through the eighties like krautrock, Spanish prog and so on. The first preview, “Black Widow“, was not so far up my alley but this one got me all excited!
Read previous editions of Editors’ Choice here.
When Andy Butler—essentially the locus around which the sprawling Hercules and Love Affair collective of collaborators and artistic associates cluster—spoke to EB last month, he talked of the paralysis of choice surrounding how to approach his DJ Kicks compilation. He felt the need, the brand spokesperson’s impulse, to sell every facet his product: gay, obscure, intelligent, fun—to chisel the band down into its component influences, and these influences into records that could fit together in a kind of 90-minute capsule manifesto. This deconstructionist approach is one that works particularly well for a commercial mix album, providing context, footnotes and further reading where mixes available online, often club sets or otherwise dashed off as an appeal for coverage and content, deal in the here and now, released amidst the feverish white noise of “TRACK ID?!!?!?!” But really, when you’ve got one eye on the DJ box and one eye on the box to tick, you have to wonder: how fun can DJing by Post-It note ever really be?
Thankfully, Andy Butler’s stab at a DJ Kicks feels more akin to a psychic topography, on which Butler plots his own dance epiphanies. With an inherent love for these records, which of course is traceable in his bands own stringent purism, the mix feels buoyant, graceful, reverent. The set rarely wavers from the early 1990s sweet spot, with the earliest track Rhythm Mode :D’s “Can You Feel It (Reach the Top)”—from 1988—lending the mix a raw grain right from the beginning. While there are departures into 2012, including exclusive H&LA track “Release Me”—an warm, piano-laced track that possesses the kind of robustness that would have rendered it a Hacienda classic—they execution is so faithful to the period they’re emulating that the gulf between the periods is experienced with nary a kink.
Of course, the retromanic nature of 2012’s house music obsession goes some way to making this set feel strangely vital. There’s no doubt that Hercules and Love Affair’s yen for post disco revivalism is a comfortable fit in 2012. Indeed, this installment of DJ Kicks consistently feels like a sonic Cliff Notes for the errant VHS-saturated time-tourist or disillusioned bass producer; the moment the clipped undulations of Fax Yourself’s “Strut Your Techno Stuff” folding into the glassy synths of the dub version of Klubb Kidz “Don’t Want to Hurt You” feels so perversely 2012 that you feel a touch of ego death coming on. And while Butler excavates the glassy timbres and tunnelistic impulses of acid in the third act with Mark Imperial’s “The Acieed That Ate New York” it’s executed with measured poise that marks Butler out as someone who intuitively knows how dance history slots together. This is, of course, where Hercules and Love Affair differ from, say, anyone on 100% Silk or My Love Is Underground’s roster: they maintain a fidelity to the source material that borders on obsessive. This may appear unintriguing to the dilettante or experimentalist, but it makes for one sleek as hell mix.
There remains the question of why you would shell out on a commercial mix when the internet is groaning under the weight of mixes you’ve already bookmarked, but that’s something to turn over during your own dark night of the soul. For now this mix certainly does what Butler set out to achieve, without any sense of over thought or strain: gay, obscure, intelligent, but most, most of all, it’s a lot of fun. ~
You can win two pairs of tickets to the forthcoming EB Presents Hercules and Love Affair Soundsystem in Zagreb and Warsaw by entering the form below. UPDATE, December 5th: Competition is closed, winners (Ana R., Michał G., Vedrana M., and Jelena M.) have been notified. Buy your tickets here.
Few developments in history can top the moment when humans stopped using music to exalt god and started to use it to exalt the body. Disco and house was, of course, built upon soul music’s divergence into the secular—and few contemporary acts manage to preserve this message in a way that still feels vital. Hercules and Love Affair have consistently been one of them. Ever since 2008’s self-titled debut, they have consistently proved fluent the language of yearning, heartache and release; reverent purists worshipful at the altar of dance music history, who, unlike the 2012 crop of DIY house outsiders, don’t feel the need to piss in the holy water just yet. A band whose Otherness is worn like a birthright. That the post-industrial setting for tonight’s stripped back Hercules and Love Affair Soundsystem (note: Soundsystem) gig in Amsterdam is called Trouw—Dutch for “faithfulness”—seems strangely apt because, if anything, they seem more protective of their roots than ever.
Opening their set with the baggy shirted strut of “My House” ensures the attending crowd’s blood is pumping to all the right places. The musky baritone of Rouge—one of two vocalists cum hype-people charged with leading the congregation for tonight’s stripped back affair—does a fine job of keeping it there. When the second guest vocalist, Gustaph, dressed in a monochrome Prada-style trackie, begins recanting “I Feel Love” over an undulating, disarmingly bodily arpeggio the crowd offers up vocal exhortation in concert and, for a moment, we all wish we could pull off knee-length shorts and a gold bootlace tie. Edging into a reinforced reworking of Tiga’s “You Gonna Want Me” sees the crowd lose their voice: “SING!” screams Rouge, and still the crowd’s in-depth knowledge of 2006 falls short. Awk. After an unexpected tract of heads down, eyes-up techno, a window is cracked and “You Belong” offers all the primal comfort of flesh upon flesh, the insinuatingly visceral synth vamps setting the stage for a scene stealing turn by Andy Butler. Hitherto remaining wizard-like in the shadows, he relishes his time in the spotlight with an impeccably executed duckwalk. This is the second gig in so two months which has descended into a vogue down (the last being Zebra Katz in Berlin), and the granite-flecked, Masters at Work timbres that Butler frequently recourses to tonight feel both timely and timeless. When a member of the crowd clambers onstage to do battle it’s hardly surprising. Vogue, after all, was one of the things EB and Andy Butler discussed at length in our interview this Autumn. A fine development, we say, even if the outbreak of vogue limbs in the audience leaves something to be desired.
If, after two hours, the throng of sweat-slicked and loyal struggle to keep their energy up it perhaps isn’t all that surprising. This is tough, muscular, music that demands a purely corporeal response. The heartsick torch songs that Hercules and Love Affair did and still do so well are banished in this functional Soundsystem setup, or else reworked into unholy basement club bangers that taste of sweat and metal. Still, Rouge and Gustaph are hard taskmasters who have little truck with tired Friday night legs: we’re kept on our feet until the bitter end where we’re invited onstage to wring out the last of our adrenaline in the company of Rouge and a now shirtless Butler. Just when we feel our bodies crashing— for bed, for respite, for the love of god, Rouge poses the one question that surely echoes through the ages: “Come on, people! Are you tired? Don’t you want to come to the after party?” Remember to say a prayer for us. ~
Photos: Jos Kottmann