Berlin's renowned nightclub scene is showing signs of life. Just one problem: No dancing

Industry attempts pivot to beer gardens and pizza, but it's easy to recreate the vibe from the comfort of your own home

Despite being capital of European coronavirus cup champion Germany, a question mark looms over Berlin's world-famous clubbing scene, where thousands used to dance, sweat, and bosh drugs together nightly.

The issue here should be obvious – if you need a clue, it begins with C – so the city's techno temples are attempting a pivot to that well-known nightclub specialty of... pizza.

Berliner Zeitung reports that a number of popular nightspots are repurposing the opening permit for the food industry to save their own.

There's just one little hitch: No dancing allowed.

Those fortunate enough to have outdoor areas like Sisyphos, Birgit & Bier, and Rummels Bay are mulling a transition to become beer gardens that serve booze and pizza from late afternoon until 10pm.

Music will be played, of course, but sweaty gyrating against a fellow patron is a big no-no as social distancing must still be observed. Guests and staff will be required to wear the now-ubiquitous face mask. Customers must also stay seated in Birgit, with the only reason to get up being "if you have to use the toilet." Good times.

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Can't dance? That's no excuse. Let a robot do it for you at this 'forced exoskeleton rave'


Owners told the paper that they're sceptical, but the clubbing industry is facing an existential threat. Current government guidance is for the clubs to return "at the end of the year at the earliest, more likely in 2021". Whether there will be any left to pick up the torch by then is uncertain.

Ipse boss Tom Szana said: "As a club, you lose your unique selling point. You're just another beer garden." But he added that the potential for infection in the industry was too great to do much else. "I would be reluctant to ensure that the numbers increase again and the opening for everyone is therefore delayed."

For some, it makes no economic sense to open even if they do have open-air space. The Yaam, for example, has 5,000 square metres outdoors. It'd normally have the capacity for 700 people, but only 200 fit under social distancing.

Boss man Geoffrey Vasseur told the Zeitung that he would have to hire more staff to reopen, but then the business would be hit by deferred rents. "We just can't afford to make any more losses," he said.

Though he mused about the image of "responsible ravers" who are able to internalise the new rules, The Register wonders if the regular crowds would bother when such measures still may not be enough to save their favourite venues.

We'd note, however, that it is trivially easy to recreate a Berlin nightclub from the comfort of your own home – without all the dickheads.

First, paint your walls black then smear them with your perspiration. Spill some drinks for that authentic sticky-floor vibe, and maybe toss some flour on your loo. Use your essential shop to buy out the booze aisles. Then get the strobe lighting and smoke machine going. If you lack one, just start vaping heavily and turn a light on and off rapidly.

Youtube Video

For soundtrack, we'd recommend the YouTube account of DIY music crew HÖR BERLIN. They have been livestreaming sets by established techno DJs from a handbuilt tiled studio since well before this whole thing started and continue to do so. With all the above in place, the illusion will be complete. If you can't catch a live set on time, there are still hundreds up there to check out.

In the meantime, we wish the city's nightclubs the best of luck. ®

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