Berghain, the global capital of electronic music, is known to the world as the hardest door to pass through. At Berghain, people queue for hours, follow all the rules and are still rejected, which has contributed to the club’s reputation and appeal. There are numerous “How to get into Berghain” guides online, an instagram handle as well as an app that casts the length of the line multiple times a day, an online AI simulator to practice getting in, and even a card game based off of the experience.
With this installation I wanted to explore the Berghain as social experiment on the physiological effects of random selection/rejection. When people see a line, they too will wait in it, and naturally people will have a peeked sense of curiosity when rejection is added into the experiment. Tonight, the rejections were 100% random, but it is likely that you took it personally. The pain we feel in response to rejection is intensely self-critical. We inflict pain on ourselves when we experience rejection. Our emotional response to rejection is rooted in our instinctual nature to experience social connection in a tribe. All of the music I mixed for this event references classic social experiments.
For this piece I wanted to recreate Berghain as authentically as possible. I’ve mixed alcohol, bodily fluids and vinegar in the air to trigger memories of the smells of Berlin clubs, created a DJ set evocative of iconic thumping dark techno, and employed various audio visual and psychological effects in the installation. Within the recent years Berghain has moved from underground subculture to mainstream culture through the globalized culture spread by the internet. Frank Ocean cited it as an influence on his album Blonde; and Conan O’Brien recently did a comedy routine outside the entrance. It’s bouncer, Sven Marquardt is a bonafide celebrity icon that has been interviewed by GQ.
Through net culture, the former power plant turn club, built in the era of Soviet-controlled East Berlin, has also become a prominent subject in internet memes. Richard Dawkins, who invented the term, defines a meme as "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” The sharing of memes releases dopamine in the brain. When you understand a reference, laugh, and click the share button, you are establishing a tribal connection.
German clubs are some of the last spaces on earth that are not under surveillance by security, IP cameras, or cellphones. The no-photo policy was invented in the early days of Berlin’s club scene to give safe space to minorities or people who enjoy clubs to experience escapism. The aspect of preforming for the camera is non existent in a Berlin club, in this way it’s a very different experience than clubbing in Miami or Paris. Berlin club culture is rooted in doing anything because no one is watching. This culture emerged from the East German queer punk movement in response to life the Cold War Era in Berlin. The title, Todesstreifen (Death Zone) is a reference the threshold you cross when you are let into the club. Todesstreifen was the name of the middle of the Berlin Walls that were laced with barbed wire and dogs, where guards from watchtowers obeyed shoot-to-kill orders.
Within the last ten years Gentrification is forcing clubs like Berghain be pushed out of the city center. With these economic pressures, there is increasingly less room for experimental spaces. There is a threat of these spaces being lost. In the coming years we may look back at the post Berlin Wall period, and see that something has been lost to time due to an increase on surveillance, popularized subcultures on social media and gentrification.
The following is the documentation of this piece, the tracks I recorded live, as well as the initial FAQ I released on my website before the event.
1. WHERE IS BERGHAIN?
On February 4th, 2020 Berghain will be in the darkroom VAB 108 at the University of Central Florida. To get to Berghain enter room 108 and turn right. Look for our bouncer Sven, and get in line. Here's a photo of Sven for reference.
2. WHAT IS BERGHAIN?
3. HOW DO I GET INTO BERGHAIN?
Go early. Don’t try to cut the line. Know who’s DJ-ing that night. Dress casually—jeans and a T-shirt is best. Don’t go in a big group. Don’t be too young. Don’t joke or laugh in line. Don’t speak in the line. Or if you must, speak German. do not take selfies in line. when you get to the front of the line only respond to the questions you are asked. Answer in german. The bouncer will ask amount of people that are in your party and you will present your ID. If you are denied access, join the line and try again.
German Numbers & pronunciation:
1 -- eins (eyns, long i sound, as in 'pie' or 'fly')
2 -- zwei tsvey (long i sound)
3 -- drei (dry)
4 -- vier (fear)
5 -- fünf (foonf)
6 -- sechs (zex)
4. WHAT ARE THE RULES OF BERGHAIN?
Your phone camera will be taped over and you will get a stamp on your hand. Once you are in, turn right and enter the building, from there, follow the white tape on the floor to the club space and enjoy the church for people who have fallen from grace.
5. HOW DO I EXPERIENCE BERGHAIN?
Testosterone will dripping off bodies, and the dancing consists of some combination of marching and forceful air-punching. Enjoy the Conceptronic sounds from our resident artist ZANETTI. There will be a livestream of the artist at some point in the set. Come to enjoy the music and celebrate life. Forget about space and time Be yourself, do as you please.