An insiders guide to the Dance Music scene in Berlin
Dance music and Berlin nightlife are essentially synonymous in 2013. Home to some of the most important labels, producers and spaces in dance and electronic, Berlin is a clubber’s mecca. The “Berlin sound“, essentially minimal techno/”micro-house” music championed and produced by, amongst others, techno legend Richie Hawtin, began to trickle into mainstream night clubs in the US around around 2003, as progressive house and techno fused into something dark, repetitive and hypnotic.
Thus, the American minimal scene was birthed.
Hawtin himself relocated to Berlin around that time, stating “Berlin is so liberal in so many different ways; there’s an amazing club scene, there’s a great development software tech scene, there are so many resources here.”
Today, Berlin’s electronic dance music scene is a melting pop of influences and cultures, having attracted the likes of electro-freak performance artist Peaches (most commonly known for her Electroclash hit “AAXXX”), former sleazy synth-waver turned composer Mt Sims, and NY darkwave stalwart Shannon Funchess, as well as those labels that helped put the modern sound of Berlin today on the map: BPitch Control, Kompakt records, Plus8 and M_nus records.
BPitch Control, particularly, under the leadership of label founder Ellen Allien, has become fluid at adapting to dance music’s trends. Allien herself released a crunchy mixture of pop, techno and rock with her Berlinette album, which perfectly encapsulated the sound of its time, the way her label’s darker, funkier and more throbbing releases are the pulse of now.
Combine that with Hawtin’s veritable techno army of affiliates, like Magda and Sven Vath (not a local per se but a local scene fixture and founder of the legendary COCOON nights-into-days-into-weeks), and the gorgeous dark all-night journeys from the likes of Paul Kalkbrenner, any night out in Berlin is likely to be massive.
Club-wise, superclub Berghain touts itself as “the best club in the world”, and the nightly near-impossible lines would echo that. Then there’s Tresor, one of the defining Berlin techno clubs, that’s fallen off a bit since relocating but augments that with a new, industrial air. And Horst Krzbg (above), a local fave that augments the pulse of the DJs with an impressive laser system.
Check out some wicked tunes from the BPitch Control label below: