Scotland, Europe, the world

Ch b'n Beriner

Underground partying in Berlin’s illegal club scene. Words; Helen Pidd

t's‘ Saturday night. l.3()am in a draughty tube station in

Berlin‘s l'onner eastern Mitte district. and a hundred young

people are milling around shiftin waiting for something to happen. A few have brought their bikes. most are with friends and all are wrapped up warm. lt‘s minus ten. and you can be sure that the secret destination. wherever it is. won't be decked out with heaters and carpets. A whisper passes through the throng: ‘You here for the party? Follow us . . .'

()ut onto the main road. off down a shadowy backstreet and then a return to the underground. or ‘Deep l'ntergrund' as the event is officially christened. l slip live euros to a cheery couple stationed in a disused bunker and head through the low ceilinged corridors. past huge heaps of artily broken glass and candles. Still no mUsic. Around the corner. a door is opened. the beats hit home and it’s clear we’re in the right place.

In what appears to be an old lactory. several hundred purple have already got the party started. It's a surreal sight. with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. weirdly sloping

lloors'. not to mention the immense 3D projections of

philosophers scaling the 30ft walls. All. naturally. to the rhythm of the linest electro music. The email invitation said it would be good.

Welcome to Berlin's illegal party scene. With its secret meeting points. instructions to knock on unmarked doors. mysterious organisers and the constant threat ol' police

discovery you could almost be back in the sinister days of

cold war east Germany (or pre-(‘riminal Justice Act Britain) except nowadays the only parties making waves are most definitely not political ones.

Fear and loathing is out. cheer and raving is in. Old clubbing bores claim that Berlin has ‘been and gone’. but

they couldn‘t be more wrong. Sure. the city is becoming more gentrilied as property developers move in and build on the vast stretches of land once occupied by the Wall. but there is still no shortage ol‘ party locations. As soon as one area has become too posh and glammed-up. the scene just moves onto the next place.

In which other liuropean capital city can you rent a massive studio for £60 a month and then pretend to open a gallery while actually running a party venue'.’ Where else are there regular illegal gatherings in among war ruins. nuclear bunkers or disused tube stations'.’ Where else would you lind the White Trash 'l'akeaway. once a tat-tilled Chinese restaurant that now operates as a shady bar-cum-poker den run by a Kid Rock lookalike'.’ Or how about Lisa Sirnpsoirs Dream. set in an abandoned cable lactor'y' in the suburbs'.’ .\'ot in Paris. Madrid or Rome. that's for sure.

All over Berlin. yet mostly in the eastern lying districts of

.\1itte. l’renzlauerberg and liriedrichshain. ordinary folk are doing things for themselves. l‘ed up with the commercialisation of the ‘ollicial‘ club scene and bored with the increasingly homogenised look ol‘ the new bars and cafes. they provide their own fun.

.\'ot bothering to apply lor‘ pricey entertainment and liquor licenses (hence the illegality) they simply look around for suitable space easy in a city that lost a million or so inhabitants through emigration during the (‘old War print out some llyers. may be set up a website and a mailing list and tell all their mates about it.

But why do they do it'.’ .\'ot for money or lame. that’s for sure. 1n the words ol Michael. one panygoer: 'lt's a Berlin thing.’


The {all of the wall has cleared room tor a secret party mecca

Fearand loathing is out, cheerand raving is in

' Let; '1 Ma' 27/: THE “81' 107