Berlin’s Club Commissioner On Punk & Politics in Clubland
“What makes Berlin’s club scene different? Primarily Berlin’s club owners.
The first generation after German Reunification were mainly punks, artists and squatters and that’s why Berlin’s clubs often pursue their own philosophy.
Many of today’s younger event promoters and clubs also continue this style and think a lot about issues such as sustainability and avoiding corporate sponsorship, focusing on music and avoiding bling bling.”
As spokesman and member of the executive board of the Clubcommission Berlin, Lutz Leichsenring fights for the rights of Berlin’s vast underground club scene, enlightening lawyers, licensing officials and politicians about its essence and vital role in transforming Berlin into today’s world clubbing capital of techno and underground house.
Lobbying via Berlin’s Chamber of Commerce, committee meetings and projects such as www.clubkataster.de- a new project with Berlin’s Senator for Urban Development designed to help protect clubs against residential encroachment and gentrification issues, he’s also quick to stress he fights for underground club culture as opposed to bottle service, ‘VIP’ style haunts.
“There have always been posh discos and mainstream clubs in Berlin, particularly West Berlin, those places which are primarily businesses set up to make money as opposed to being places of self-realization,” he says.
“These kinds of clubs provide no contribution to the wider club culture and progressive music. The clubs we represent are heterogeneous and fortunately a little anarchic.”
“Prejudices needed to be eliminated and the Club Commission has focused on educating authorities here so they could understand night culture. Nowadays many people can differ between a serious club program and bullshit like pub crawls or beer bikes,” he continues.
“As a lobbying organization we are now involved in many important decisions to be taken. However, much remains to be done for the future, because we are competing with our concerns to residential areas, shopping malls and hotels.
We are facing major challenges because so many people have moved to Berlin from all over the world and need housing. Then there are property speculators buying up relatively inexpensive land and buildings, forcing up rents making temporary use of spaces more difficult.”
Skrufff; Stattbad shut suddenly several weeks ago and in the last few months more than a few other clubs have been suddenly forced to close, how vulnerable is Berlin nightlife to a shift in political goodwill?
Lutz: “We have reently launched www.clubkaster.de – a new project with Berlin’s Senator for Urban Development who wants to instruct his department of Berlin so that it protects music venues against the encroachment of residential areas. Also www.kiez-toolbox.de or www.fairkiez.berlin help in many cases.
However, there are still clubs in Berlin which have inadequate permits and therefore are also in conflict with the authorities.
For these clubs we try to be involved to help find solutions with our consultants and lawyers. But we have the general feeling, that the administrations works with us and not against us in these cases to find a legal solution”
Skrufff: So are Berlin authorities nowadays consciously more tolerant than anywhere else?
Lutz: “They are not: They’re just understaffed.”
Lutz will be speaking more about the Berlin club scene at Amsterdam Dance Event in October when ADE marks its 20th birthday with a numbers of 20 minute talks about key cities in club culture by key individuals from each destination.