Archive for October 27, 2010
Having mentioned to a number of people that we would be partying in Germany’s capital, the original plan simply to savour Salvation, but then also realising that Hustlaball was a homage we would hook onto, although, before leaving London, virtually everyone we spoke to about our latest clubbing expedition into Europe, said, “…if you are going to Berlin you have to go to Berghain…”, explaining that we would be blown away by the venue, the music & the people that populate the place, some even going as far to say that this colossal club was one of THE best in Europe and maybe even the world. So, with such a prolific picture having been painted, regardless of just how huge Hustlaball turned out to be & how superb Salvation was, our weekend of decadent dancing delrium would not be complete without at worst, a look in on this iconic industrial style institution, we thinking there would be at least one person truly disgusted if we returned to London having missed out. So, what was so special about this Sunday morning? And what made Berghain so brilliant?
Well, despite so many people having been so forthright in their views about this Berlin beast of a club, much of the devil in the detail was left out, the only clue as to what we could expect being in the music, which we kind of knew would be planted firmly in the techno bracket, the general trend in Germany (particularly Berlin) being to this much tougher end of tech. But having done little or no research on the club, we were totally unprepared to for sheer size of the place & the divine decadence that Berghain would bring, our only thoughts that it would be the Berlin equivalent of Beyond, but we were to be shocked & surprised by the scale of our underestimation of just what this East Berlin bounty would bring. Indeed, to compare it with London’s audacious afterhours, as we were in our heads, is like saying hot is cold, on is off, & black is white, the only similarity being that they both begin with B but that’s exactly where the comparisons begin & end.
But before we go on, it is worth highlighting a little history of the club, the name being derived from the two quarters of the city it straddles, Kruezberg to the north & Friedrichshain to the south, hence the club being called Berghain, the venue a former power plant standing tall on the landscape just east of Berlin’s fourth largest railway station Ostkreuz, itself the inspiration for the legendary club Ostgut, of which Berghain is a re-incarnation. But the foundations of Berghain go deeper, having emerged out of fetish men only nightclub, Snax, an event that still takes place yearly, although echoes of it remain within Berghain each & every week, the extensive basement a massive darkroom where trance & techno are traded for sex & seduction, although the main emphasis of the club is the main floor where the 18 metre high dancefloor dominates the design & a further upward trip leads to the Panorama bar which has equally huge proportions but a slightly more laid back feel to the music & vibe.
So, with the history lesson over & a pinch of a picture painted, our Berghain experience started with a trip from across town, Salvation in Shoneberg to be exact, in the fabulous company of D.J. Nick Tcherniak & singer P.A. Valerie, our trip fantastic to Berlin’s best in the hands of a taxi driver who fortunately knew exactly where to head, such is the magnitude of the clubs standing & familiarity in the German capital. And as we disembarked from the taxi, whilst we had a vision in our minds of what to expect, nothing could have prepared us for the sight before our eyes, the gigantic ex power plant raising skywards like a Berlin version of Tate Modern, although we could hardly take in the sheer scale of it all quite yet, as the hilarious conversation with which we had engaged with both Nick & Valerie in the cab, continued virtually to the door. With a healthy queue assembled, we thought we would chance our luck with a fast track entrance, Valerie bowling up to the rather scary looking brute on the door to test a little of the German her sister had religiously taught her, although the straight forward English approach from Nick seemed to be getting a better reception, yet, despite our pleas for accelerated entry, our request eventually fell on deaf ears, we finding our place in the queue, to patiently wait on the start of our Berghain bash.
Now, we promised we wouldn’t quote, but such was the continued hilarity the three of us were indulging while waiting, was not going unnoticed, Valerie coming out with one laughable line after the next, Nick stoking her fire & even our little anecdotes causing a stir around us, the waiting crowd nothing like any queue for a club we had seen before, well with the possible exception of Trade in its heyday, each & every person waiting their turn to enter this mecca of techno clubbing in Berlin clearly music fans rather than posing queens, even the cross between Lady Gaga & Lena Zavaroni, this wasn’t a case of being glamorous rather being passionate. And when our turn arrived, the guy that had the look as though he had just chewed a wasp & Valerie’s tough northerner gave us a smile & waved us through without incident, the incredibly tough door policy entrance now negotiated and our towering techno trip to Berghain now well & truly on its way.
With yet another incredibly efficient coatcheck process complete, Nick needed to spend a penny, so went in search of what looked like the toilets, disappearing into this dark space, but coming back as quickly he went, exclaiming “…I just want to confirm that that is NOT the toilet…” need we say more, the poor innocent Mr Tcherniak having walked straight into the infamous darkroom. So, with the laughter back, we all started ascending this incredible space, a truly industrial setting like we have never seen of like of in a club, the continual references to Tate Modern without the art & paintwork flooding through our minds eyes, the backdrop of pure Techno beginning to pump through our bodies. Having made it to the main floor, our breath was simply taken away by the dimensions of the space, the place teaming with party heads that were clearly well into the incredible tough sounding beats that were bouncing off the metal surfaces & the discreet yet inviting lighting illuminating just enough to retain that drench of decadence that we hadn’t seen in a club in close on 20 years.
Nick had now found the proper facilities, returning suitably relieved to gather us up and take us round through the labyrinth of corridors and then up yet further metal stairs to the Panorama bar, a second space in this incredible clubbing cathedral that made for Berghain’s host venue, the might, the mass & the magnificence of the place now really beginning to dawn on us. And like the huge room now below us, this Panorama bar was filled with ardent clubbers, locals rather than travellers, Berliners that were mixed in their makeup but liberal with their attitude, such a refreshing change from the g queen pushing & shoving that happens all too often back home, just a cavorting crowd intent on escaping into the trance house grooves that set this space aside from its bigger techno triumph downstairs. But, looking around, whilst the dimesions of this space weren’t quite as vast as before, they were no less awe inspiring, huge pieces of art spread across the far wall (hence our continual refrence to Tate Modern) & just a handful of spot lighting to add to the already awesome ambiance.
So, with yet more refreshments in our hands, we headed for a neat spot in the corner, where we had a superb view of East Berlin outside (albeit a peak through the substantial metal blinds), as well as resident D.J. Cassy who was selecting some superlative sounds & from vinyl no less, this together with the whole atmosphere, somehow transporting us back in time to our early days of clubbing, mixing in with a most eclectic crowd of people that simply just wanted to party. So, with Nick & Valerie in close call, we very much joined in on this pulsating Panorama party, throwing ourselves into the deep grooves, trading moves with our twosome dancing partners as well as others around us, only momentarily pausing to record this tremendous time for posterity on our phone, yet more hilarity occurring as a virtual synchronistic Facebook broadcast was in motion, neatly followed by Valerie’s make-up moment (you had to be there), we ourselves exclaiming to the world “…here we are at Berghain with Nick Tcherniak & Valerie post Salvation & couldn’t be in better company in this amazing club…”, our morning getter better by the minute, our enjoyment levels rising as quickly as the sun outside & the inescapable feeling that we were experiencing something very special indeed.
Having all agreed that after the splendour of Salvation before, our braving of Berghain would be just a short pop in to say, “…we have done it…”, so good was this club & so incredible was the venue, that an hour extended to two and then into a third, Cass’s music hitting every single sweet spot in our body and our company enriching the whole experience more than words can say. But as the D.J. switch came & then music took on a more electro feel, the call of time on our towering techno trip was coming close, both Nick & Valerie conscious of their impending flight back to London & our need to re-charge our batteries for our final forays around this wonderful city we had found ourselves within. So, squeezing our way past the party people packing out the Panorama bar, we meandered back through the myriad of corridors still strewn with clubbers taking respite from the two rooms of musical madness, down the metal stairs to collect our belongings & then out into the East Berlin morning sunshine to make our way back west, conversing lyrically with Nick & Valerie on what was, without question THE most amazing outing we have enjoyed in years.
To say that Berghain is breathtaking only tells a minuscule amount of the full story, every single element of this colossal club adding up to make it the best event we have witnessed in Europe, ever. Yes, the music is firmly planted in purist techno in the towering main space, and the draconian darkroom downstairs would be a shock for some, but there is always the Panorama bar for the slightly more feint hearted, yet the whole Berghain offering is quite unique and one that we would never really believe we would say “…you have to go…” until we did. For us, the club captures everything that is so decadent yet so splendid about the city within which it stands, Berlin, and by golly do the Berliners know how to party, our simple three hour snippet of a showing a mere drop in the ocean compared with the eighteen or so of hedonistic hours that the club’s doors are open, from dark to dawn to dusk, the decadence doesn’t stop. So, while Beyond is undoubtedly brilliant, Berghain is the best and by a long shot, meaning we will be back for sure. (DISCO MATT)
When we look back over the years, there have been only a small number of club brands that have survived the test of time, more often than not, their lasting appeal down to the fact that they have a following both internationally as well as here in London. And there is no doubt that Salvation’s success, particularly of late, has been as a result of its global rather than domestic standing, the foundations that were originally built in London, now firmly planted in Europe, allowing promoter Steve Elliot & his team to springboard the concept into South America, Australia & South Africa, but also to include destinations like Paris, Stockholm, Ibiza & Mykonos in their year round calendar packed schedule, Berlin having been added to the stable of favourite forays a couple of years ago. So, when we decided to also stretch our own legs into Europe, Salvation simply had to be on our schedule too, a trip to the German capital etched in our dairy a good three months ago and our excitement & anticipation rising relentlessly as the big weekend arrived. So, why all this enthusiasm and were our expectations fulfilled?
Having just about re-charged our batteries from Hustlaball the previous evening, we made a rendezvous with D.J. pals Eduardo De La Torre & Danny Verde, Edu having forgone a Friday meet up due to work commitments & Danny having just arrived from Milan, a late lunch then followed by a sneak preview of Salvations host venue. Having checked out the literature beforehand, we were expecting the place to be pretty close to where we were staying in Shoneburg, although knowing Berlin as we do now, this district of the German capital is pretty large, our trip with Edu, Mrs De la Torre & Danny in the car taking us right into the sticks. However, the trip proved invaluable, as we managed to landmark our directions for later, having decided to be adventurous & t6ake the train, rather than a cab, even bumping into a fellow Londoner on route who had done the same. Mind you, has it not been for our i-phone map application, we may not have made it to the industrial Malzfabrik at all, our arrival instead being as smooth as silk.
Having decided on an early arrival, we were at Salvation’s doors at just turned 11.30 p.m., virtually immediately bumping into a busy looking Steve Elliot, one familiar face in amongst many others, although, to our surprise the cute looking guy managing the entrance also recognised us (what happened to anonymity in this city?!?!), we being waved through in a trice and our belongings efficiently packed away in the adjacent coatcheck. With that small formality over, our sashaying in Schoneburg was about to begin, the main room literally opening out in front of us, this massive warehouse having previously been the home of the infamous sex parties held by the Kitkat club, the raw feel of the warehouse style of the place broken by sophisticated lighting & the massive LED D.J. booth which was making a colourful splash & statement.
And this was our first port of call, bounding up to say hello to Edu, who was warming up this Salvation showing with some seriously tech infused sounds which were booming out from the massive speakers banging down from the ceiling which was a good 50 foot above. With our greetings over, we retreated to the bar to seek refreshments, this time opting for the energy boosting choice rather than the beer of Hustlaball before, we also being conscious that some serious pacing was going to be required , should we also make the essential trip to Berghain as so many people had said we should do. Relaxing into a spot by the bar, it was clear we had arrived early, as it took quite some time for the crowd to develop, however, like many Saturday night gatherings in London, one minute the place seemed rather empty & the next it was packed full, the collective crowd very much more the club type we were used to, a myriad of muscled men, plenty of glamorous girls & even familiar club kids, one guy in particular noticing us from our times at Fire in Vauxhall (isn’t the world small sometimes), while a number of other faces were familiar, obviously the trip to Berlin this weekend being a popular choice & Salvation a definite draw.
But, we were now very expectant of the arrival of not just Danny Verde, but also an inbound Nick Tcherniak, whom we had seen just a week or so previously back in London, both of us very much looking forward to partying together outside of our usual haunts, rather internationally for the first time. And arrive they both did, Danny spotting us as he made his way to take over from Edu in Malzfabrik’s main room, while Nick assumed the decks up in the second room upstairs, the entry to which was up a most industrial & well worn set of stairs, the whole ambience both on the ascension & the arrival in the room, much more draconian than we were used to, although Nick’s music was anything but, we finding our steps to his sounds in an instant, the space soon filling out with plenty of party people, very much into the more intimate atmosphere of this separate space. And with a tremendously warm welcome from the man himself, we couldn’t have felt more at home, this feeling made even more fulsome by the second familiar face of fellow D.J. Paul Coals, who had been warming up the space & was later to take position in the main room.
Now we were very much in Salvation mood, trading this lofty space with devotions to Danny downstairs, each visit back & forth timed to perfection as both Nick & our Milano mate picked tunes that tripped off our musical memories, Nick’s “My People” track yet again a highlight, having already played a prolific part in our weekend, Danny’s “Let Me See Your Underwear”, “Pushin To The Top” & even his bootleg of Madonna’s “Vogue” getting airplay. However, the music in the main room was only part of the scintillating story, as not only were we treated to a pulsating P.A. performance by London based Valerie, but a succession of dancers were intermixed by fire eating displays & a most explosive angle grinding show, played out virtually in front of our eyes on the expansive podium to (yes you guessed it) the left of the D.J. booth, our favoured spot in any club.
Henceforth, we simply couldn’t separate the delectable deliveries from the deck maestro’s performing in our midst, darts back & forth intermixed with plenty of camera clicking of Raul Gonzalez’s drop dead gorgeous go-go’s both males & females impressing immensely, the crowd showing their appreciation with every move they made on the podiums, Danny’s brilliant beats even ensuring that on the few occasions the elevated areas were absent, they were quickly filled with bare tops beauties from the cavorting crowd, the laser lighting & ticker tape drops from the ceiling above adding to the amazing atmosphere in this truly voluptuous venue. Even Nick was having his say upstairs, true devotees to his terrific tech honed house music there by choice, we even bumping into yet more faces from back in London who were as pleased to see us as we them, the sweat from their furied frolicking evidence of just how good our fabulous friend was entertaining enthrallingly.
With Danny virtually done with his set, the second impromptu back-to-back set of the weekend was about to take place, the duo of Nick Tcherniak & Paul Coals taking over the main room music, both upping the tempo from the second room before, Paul especially impressing with his diversity compared with his guest spots & residencies back in London, Nick sliding easily into the change of pace & playing to the crowd like the seasoned pro he is. And, the crowd were incredibly receptive of their performance, not the thinning out that you all too often get back in London, when the call of a certain afterhours drags people away prematurely, these Salvation sophisticates seeing out most of the remainder of this exceptional event close to the 7 a.m. finish, even the performers, Danny, Edu & Valerie partying around us right till the end, everyone thoroughly enjoying the whole experience so much they, like us, didn’t want it to end. But, with the last tune played out by Nick, the time had come to move on, we choosing a relatively swift exit with Mr Tcherniak & Valerie, to make that essential must visit to Berlin’s Berghain club to continue what had been a simply sensational Saturday come Sunday soaked in Salvation splendour.
In Salvation as a club brand we have enjoyed some truly prolific parties, most if not all in London’s Cafe de Paris, very much on the glamorous end of the clubbing venue market. Having said that, the Hippodrome made for a truly awe inspiring setting, as have the couple of occasions we have sampled it in the brilliance of Barcelona, although to see it acted out in the Industrial & bohemian setting that was Malzfabrik in Berlin was an experience we will remember for a long time to come, as not only did it show Salvation in a new light, but it made for an altogether fresh & fulfilling time in what has fast become one of our favourite city destinations. Yes, the venue was a little bit out in the sticks but that made Salvation much more of an adventure & given the numbers through the doors, there is still clearly a penchant for this long established brand, not just in Berlin but across Europe & even the further reaches across the globe, meaning that sashaying in Shoneberg was certainly scintillating & we salute you, superb Salvation, bring on the next party, we can’t wait. (DISCO MATT)
When it comes to combining horny action with disco dancing, it doesn’t come much better than Hustlaball, the club brand that has its origins in New York, but has very much spread its word across in Europe, first touching our lives just over two years ago when it landed on London for the time, taking our breath away at Renaissance rooms, the combination of superbly saucy stage shows & heaps of horny horseplay, very much giving us an appetite for more of the same. Having repeated the affair back in May, even meeting up with the Hustlaball top brass, the club was firmly on our radar, so when a trip to Berlin was planned, it came as no surprise that a second macho meet up, this time in the city’s Mitte district at the new Kitkat club no less, simply had to be on the cards. But, how did our third liaison with this erotic event turn out? Was it bonking in Berlin? or simply monotony in Mitte?
We like to think of ourselves as pretty organised, although for some reason, whenever we travel abroad, however much planning we do, certain elements never turn out as they should expect, our trip to Berlin & Hustlaball being a perfect example. Yes, we knew that it would be on the cards and yes, we had come prepared, packing our leather chaps, boots & accompaniments, although no, we had not done much research as to where & when the main event would take place, an update on our favourite social networking site seemingly indicating the party being scheduled for the Sunday, our minds fixing on this when deciding to devote the whole of Friday to touring around the beauty of Berlin’s superb sights, rather than concentrating on clubbing cavorting. However, fate was to lend us a helping hand as not only did we bump into the familiar face of D.J. & club entrepreneur Fabio White within hours of landing in Germany’s capital, but a well timed text deluded to the fact that we had got our dates seriously wrong & had just three hours to get our act together & head for the Kitkat club in Mitte.
So, with all our leather paraphernalia sorted & us looking very much dressed to impress, we made the relatively straight forward trip across to Kopenicker Street, arriving at Hustlball’s host venue doors at not long turned 10.30 p.m., quite early by Berlin & our own standards, although with news that the party was a sell-out, we didn’t want to be disappointed with missing out in any way. Finding an already healthy queue of people waiting to enter, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves within the Kitkat club, leaving our belongings with the well organised & speedy coatcheck and then sinking ourselves straight into the action, the multi layered & cavernous club opening out in front of us, immediately drawing comparisons in our minds with Turnmills back in London, the Kitkat club a much bigger version, yet with that same decadent & delightful feel that has made Trade’s ancestral home so special.
Indeed, as we wandered around the myriad of rooms, each one having their own character & feel, yet all connected with an air of mystery & intrigue, there was no doubt in our mind that Hustlaball had found the perfect place for pitching their porno party, from the generous outside terrace, to the calm chill-out room with plunge pool, & from the magnificent main room through to the compact yet charming underground bar, the club had it all, save for a sling or two, well at least what we thought, although we were kindly informed the following evening that there were plenty & much activity in them too, damn & blast!! Mind you, such was the labyrinth of nooks, crannies, rooms & passage ways; it wasn’t surprising that we failed to find them, our thoughts more on the main room action, rather than the play areas.
So, finding a spot, surprisingly just left of the D.J. booth (sounds familiar), we watched as the space filled pretty rapidly, Sorry Shoes head poncho, Mike Kelly, in charge of the tunes, pumping out a mix of electro tech & uplifting beats to a crowd that was as nearly eclectic as his record choices, men sporting leather harnesses & the like, dancing right next to guys in sports gear with much in between, but all intent on soaking up the building atmosphere. And it wasn’t long before a bevy of beauties ascended the podiums & bar top not far from where we were standing, adding their own element of saucy sexual intrigue in advance of the main show which was about to come, the arrival of both incumbent D.J., Fabio White & show host Chi Ch La Rue almost simultaneous, all eyes moving towards the stage & Miss La Rue’s gaggle of gorgeous go go’s, while ours were pointed more towards the booth where Mr White was gearing up for his own prolific performance.
With Chi Chi’s rousing of the crowd over & the go-go’s intermixing their displays with the odd porn star here & there, most of the attention swung towards the dancing and no surprise really, as Fabio White certainly took up the mantle marvellously, the height of Mr Kelly’s set, a superb rendition of the Tcherniak & Thomas hit, “My People”, been reached & surpassed with virtually every record choice, Fabio hitting the mark & sending the crowd wild with a glorious mix of funky & chunky tunes to match the raunchy & rocking feel of this Hustlaball Berlin main space, laser lighting at full tilt & the podiums swarming with party heads intent on dancing till dawn & beyond. Indeed, such was the amazing atmosphere, the room continuing to pack out with people, even our relative anonymity smashed by the arrival of Svetlana Queen, whom we had bumped into upon our arrival in Berlin two days previously & were now partying hard once again, even Lovechild’s Dee Crooks popping across to say hello, yet another unexpected yet lovely liaison.
Now we were well into our stride, the familiar spot by the D.J. booth helping us feel at home & an ever attentive barman making our time all the more pleasurable, although it was the magnificent music that Fabio White was serving up that was the epitome of our enjoyment, one track after the next having us dancing in a dervish, in between clicking shots of the action in front of our eyes with our phone camera, even catching the man himself in action, Fabio clearly revelling in the rapturous reception he was receiving. But, as good as the main room was, we had to take a few moments to explore the other spaces, first stopping off to say our hello’s to Chris Bekker in the second space & then made a dart across to the outside area, where we bumped into Mr Hustlaball himself, Jeffrey David, he very much content with his lot and quite rightly so, as reports had come in of a 3000 plus turnout, we not at all surprised as it seemed virtually every square inch was buzzing with party heads.
But it was back to the main room where Fabio was polishing off his prolific performance before handing over to yet another Italian, this time the good yet menacing looking Phil Romano who had not long arrived with fellow D.J. & pal Steven Redant, both deciding that an impromptu back-to-back session was the order of the day, Mr White relinquishing the decks and then disappearing into the madding crowd for a bit of post disc spinning saucery. And, with Messrs Romano & Redant doing their full on tech & progressive stuff, we were soon taken on a much tougher journey of sound, although by now we were completely carefree, such had been the euphoric extent of Fabio’s set, even the uncharacteristic amount of beverages we had consumed not dampening our spirits. However, having pretty much danced our socks off but not having taken anything off (if you know what we mean!), a final investigation around the club was required, before we decided to call it a morning, well it was by now, waving farewell to the Kitkat club, to return to our weekend base to re-charge our batteries (phone & all) for the next instalment in our Berlin bonanza break.
Walking away from this Hustlaball party with a smile as big as a Cheshire cat, pretty much summed up our experience at the Kitkat club, the smile very much representative of our amazement at the venue and the magnificent music, not least from Fabio White who served up a truly stellar set. We have to say that the crowd was not quite the handsome looking lot we have seen at events in London and the mix of sports gear & leather was an interesting combination, but you cannot deny that the whole party had a much more raunchy, intimate & sexy feel than the two Hustlball’s we have witnessed back home which made this Berlin outing all the more enjoyable. Plus, in answering those questions we raised earlier, to say that Hustalball Berlin was simply mundane in Mitte would be a judgement way past the mark, yet whilst, for us it wasn’t quite bonking in Berlin, it could have been had we found those illusive slings (then our cousin Crisco Matt would definitely have been out), but we had a good enough time as it was, meaning that come 2011, we will certainly be considering a re-visit. (DISCO MATT)