First, let’s try and get the terminology right (and that’s hard enough). The terms “rave” and “raver” are still in use, but are not quite as popular in the Berlin electronic dance music community as they used to be. A rave party, more often than not referred to as a rave, is of course an all-night dance event where DJs “perform” electronic dance and rave music (the word rave was originally coined in 60s London by those of Caribbean descent to describe a party), but the more “modern” terms party and festival are popular these days. And although the word rave is certainly much more than just another term for party, party they do in Berlin.
Germany’s capital has more electronic dance clubs than you can count and, as is often the case with any “trend” that has lasted more than a few years, this club scene, too, is incredibly diverse. Some say that the scene is currently going through something of a nostalgic phase, for instance. The dance scene seems to be dreaming of the old days when the do-it-yourself parties were held in warehouses and abandoned bunkers.
Yes, many a club in Berlin is showing a tendency to go back (to the future?) to the dark and grody atmosphere of the ancient past, long before the more stylish, interior-designed venues of the 90s. Diverse groups of like-minded young people have united to build “underground” dance communities based upon the old ideas of the past; “old school” clubs are again playing sets of music from the early days and producing their own records, too.
But it would be misleading to claim that this is the predominant trend in Berlin. There is no predominant trend. Everyone and everything is represented here.
Sure you hear the old complaint about how this once so vibrant “subculture” began to stagnate years ago and how the period of explosive growth is long over etc., but a quick tour through the Berlin electronic music club scene will prove that the passionate activity of the past is anything but exhausted.
Music styles continue to grow and evolve, thank goodness, but some genres seem to have established themselves permanently. Depending upon your preferences, you can find just about everything in Berlin; anything from house to trance, progressive house to hardcore techno, trance, jungle and even “chill-out” sounds like IDM and ambient music.
And the style of the raver him/herself is just as diverse in Berlin. The old school raver is represented here, of course, just as are the club kids and the partykids and the baby ravers as are the candy ravers and the liquid dancers and the junglists as are the bunnys and the glowstick freaks and the Rastafarians (you can write this down if you want).
But words can only take you so far whenever you try to talk about music and dance. Und, understandably, it’s never very far. The only way to really understand what any of this musical madness actually means is to go there and hear it, dance it and erlebe es (experience it).
And to help you turn this theory into practice, I have picked out what I hope to be a representative cross-section of the club scene in Berlin. It will have changed by the time you get here, of course. But, then again, it will have changed by the time this article ever gets published, too.
One rather reliable site seems to be www.dancefloorstars.de. The club scene is indeed a dynamic one, but the folks here seem to be on top of things – for the time being, at least. So book your flight, grab your glowsticks and off you go to Berlin!
And try some of these clubs on for size:
Schönhauser Allee 176
Frankfurter Allee 23
Greifswalder Str. 212/213
Stralauer Platz 34/35