Sunday, July 28, 2013

Berlin '13


Last weekend we were in Berlin DJing with Wen for Mene and the Zeitgeist Sessions crew. It was great to spend some time with Mene again as he's such an interesting person to talk to (and learn from) about Berlin.

Equally awesome was the chance to hang out with Matt/Kid Kameleon and Sara/Tinker again, who've been such great hosts in San Francisco but now reside in Berlin.

On the night we played music by: Mumdance & Mao, E.m.m.a., Beneath, Trim, Aphix, Brunks, LKDbeats, Nativ, Atlas, Etch & J-One, Huxley, El-B, Caski, Specialist Moss, Walton, My New Leng, The Midas Jay, Killjoy, Wen, Logos, Murlo, Rabit, Samename, Lockah, Etch, Sepia, P-Money and Skream.

Unlike last time, I wasn't in the city long enough to share lengthy reflections of it (less than 24 hours this time), but I did take a few shots, including the one above in the venue, Subland.

So the DJ booth, oddly, was behind wire - unsure why but anyway - and the soundsystem was set in front of the booth. After our set, I noticed that if someone was stood under the speaker but tight against the wall - this strange little pocket that was really quite close to the booth but tucked away - that a pool of light would fall on them periodically...

under the speaker

under the speaker 2

under the speaker3

This I saw on the way to the venue...


It's a painting, if it isn't clear.

And this, as we wandered out into the bright daylight, seemed appropriate:


Finally this is Wen in session...


One thing did stick in my mind from the trip. As we were coming in from the airport, we drove past a low lying club with a queue so big that it caught our attention. Mene explained it was About Blank, a venue run by a collective that stays open all weekend, as one party runs into another.

What was especially curious, beyond just the fact that a collective - rather than the more commonplace these days, company - was involved, was the nature of the collective.

Now, I don't want to take this as gospel since this isn't a well researched and fact checked data set, but the understanding I got was that the collective behind About Blank were a part of a political ideology  called Anti-German, who's beliefs seemed extremely left wing (beyond communism, apparently) and in opposition to traditional German-ness. They included a commitment to Israel (and hence a strong opposition to Palestine), and not very positive views on black people based on some blanket assumptions about homophobia.

Now, as I say, I'm not presenting this information as hard fact with authoritative sources, but it is interesting to see a fairly visible club with highly political component. It's interesting because on the whole visible clubs in London and indeed visible club cultures in London, are generally politically neutral. Yes I'm aware people can and do argue that dance music is implicitly political and yes there must be squat parties that anti-capitalist demonstrators or the EDL go to, but on the whole (and that whole is big, given the number of venues in London alone) club music is really separated from politics.

So, About Blank: one to learn more about in time, I feel. Just like Berlin itself.


Anonymous said...

fuck these motherfuckers and fuck sozialisticher plattenbau and all these racist classist ignant ass anti-german bitches, ugh

Anonymous said...

The "anti-german" movement is a pretty complex issue (and as you can see in the comment above the discussion about it is full of resentments) which can't be reflected out of context of the German re-unification and the anti-imperialist left wing movements over there.

I never came across any racial prejudices among these people and from what I heard About:Blank is a peaceful and friendly place.

Anonymous said...

yeah, that political scene IS a bit twisted in berlin. but I d say that the "about blank" crowd is really harmless. I guess if you re part of that scene (or a reborn israeli), it's a fun place to party. a bit to serious for my taste tho.

istari said...

guess that there is someone trolling on me cause i am not the only label in german which can be put under this. so whats up? whats your problem?

for party places in germany: many places in germany for good partys are made up from collective of the left-political scene. there are conflicts of what is left politics and thats good.

Anonymous said...

ugh ugh

hamzat al-wasl said...

Thanks for a great night, not enough of this in Berlin since Horst closed.

Funny that anyone 'extremely left wing' could support israel..

Anonymous said...

aboutblank IS an antigerman collective. "antigerman" is a set of politics on the german left that takes nationalism as the primary enemy of any liberatory movement, and emphasizes the role that the racist far right plays in the mainstream contemporary German society. they frequently are involved in solidarity movements with immigrants, in queer struggles, and anti-facist groups. they also tend to be involved in the club/party scene, since they support hedonism on a political level, as a contrast to what they see as a repressive mainstream culture. they also have a weird tick about supporting Israel, but it is not so straight forward as just thinking the current state of Isreal is great. For most of the antigerman people I know it is more about being very very critical of the anti-semitism that is often present in how Isreal is criticized. The historical experience of the holocaust, obviously, makes people on the German left very aware of Anti-semitism. Also the German "anti-imperialist" left's willingness to associate with groups that were openly anti-semetic in the name of anti-imerialist solidarity, meant that a sharp divide on the radical left between anti-imps and antigermans emerged, and that everyone says nasty, only partially true, things about the other side now... anyway, I personally disagree with then politically about Isreal, but the people who run aboutblank are certainly not open racists in the way you make it sound like. There has been drama in the "scene" in berlin becasue they have, several times, refused to let people wearing Palestinian scarfs into the club if they didn't leave them at the door, which is arguably racist in some way, but is also a thing about a certain political symbol. they certainly don't "dislike black people". Actually, it is one of the few clubs I know of that has an actually enforced "no-sexism, so homophobia, no racism" policy in which everyone there is expected to make sure the party is open to anyone... also they have a dubstep night which is often pretty good. :)