Wednesday, 8 April 2009

its not just berghain...

 Rechenzentrum & RAW-Temple

It’s a Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, in fact, and it’s one am in Berlin’s Fredrichshain district. Seems spring has come rapidly in the cold shadow of winter: sun for a week here has led people to be outside, and barbecues have started with a vengeance. But to the point: Wednesday, one am, RAW-Temple. Outside, the air is warm but with the crisp bite of early April and perhaps two hundred people are milling around the courtyard space of this disused railway goods yard. And the dull thud of a four-four beat pushes its way grudgingly through the walls of the nineteenth century storehouse.

The stalwarts of Berlin’s electronic music scene are well known. Berghain, Watergate, Weekend, to give them their dues, are second to none. But, step a little outside, just a little, and things show a different side. The quota of ‘cool’ is unavoidable in the places with a name. People fly here at the weekend for nights and days of unrivalled club music and they bring a self-conscious ambition and attitude: not negative, just slightly ‘try-hard’. Nobody flies to Berlin for a two-euro entrance night of techno/electro from a no-big-name dj and live-act on a Tuesday night in Freidrichshain.

I’ve had a few nights of dancing in the Hauptstadt over the last couple of years, and its been those places you don’t plan on going to days in advance, that have cropped up on the night, that have delivered. Those places where entrance is cheap, door-selection minimal, and the atmosphere unsophisticated. Disregarding the current ‘deep’ trend in house and techno, RAW-Temple produced a refreshingly fast-paced, percussive dose of hard-edged minimal on a sound-system that, for a venue of limited means (a community based project for affordable cultural space) packed a punch far above its weight. And, also refreshingly, the partygoers seemed there for a party: not to be seen in, or see, the scene. The performers had names, of course, but there last night, I couldn’t give a damn: it didn’t matter.

And then you get surprised, again. Ballhaus Ost, with Ben Klock at the Delikat records birthday party, with a crowd more ready to really dance to Klock’s rhythm than some at his residency in Berghain. Or a small-scale loft-party in Kreuzberg with a less-than-perfect sound-system, but a more than perfect atmosphere: simple minimal music that was, you know, minimal. And its OK to call it that.

A scene’s a scene, obviously. And in that context, the one here is superb, and open... But, just once in a while, it pays to not pay so much, to expect a little less and get a little more.

Summers coming now. And that means outdoors. And right now, I’m looking forward to travelling out to those places that are harder to get to, but so worth the effort. Rechenzentrum’s open now, and for me, its hard to beat.

But more on that when its here…


  1. very keen to check out rechenzentrum. looks like a great club. tempted to get myself a ticket to berlin for the full panda party there on 23 may with cio d'or, dasha rush and samuli kemppi...

  2. Cio and Samuli on the same night? Surely it can't get better than that!

    Looking forward to coming to Berlin to see a few of these places. RAWtemple looks cool- i certainly agree that the impromptu, unexpected but blindingly good party is the way forward. Most of the nights out i've booked in advance and been counting down the days to have been a big let down. Except festivals of course, they seem to deliver every time!