The lovely fellows at Jågermeister have teamed up with Noisey to promote their new product, Spice. (That's right, turns out they're more than just the nation's favourite shot.) Since Jågermeister has been around for ages and is steeped in German cultural history, we thought we'd look at the progression of Berlin's musical subcultures over the years. Through the eyes of the city's best photographers, we discovered the musicians, DJs, parties and general excess of the past three decades. Everything from 1980s post-punk to 2000s techno (read the second article here) is captured in all its transgressive glory – enjoy!
Despite this being an age of image saturation, getting good photographs of the contemporary techno and queer scenes in Berlin is pretty difficult. There are a few reasons for this: escapism thrives in the dark, especially when the glare of visibility can feel like a threat for certain communities; the moral panic of the 1990s rave-era still casts a shadow over today's dance music scenes; and Berlin has its own psycho-cultural issues with surveillance, rooted in the DDR's security state during the Cold War.
That said, we were able to find someone doing aesthetic justice to Berlin's nightlife who was kind enough to let us look at her amazing images: the Italian-born photographer Aghia Sophie.
She started taking photos a decade ago of various rave parties across Europe, keeping the habit up when she moved to Berlin, and by which point the scene had relocated inside nightclubs. "Fun is basic in this kind of work," she tells us. "To get into the atmosphere of the night and catch its particular energy you need to be a part of the scene; people shouldn't perceive you as a reporter but as a party buddy." This intimacy is what makes her photos unique.
The German punk-wave singer Petra Flurr with a friend during a Butoh performance of the Japanese artist Yuko. This is at the Sabbat club night, a queer party that defines itself as "Apocaliptik rave"; its music spans from hard-techno to industrial and noise. The location changes every edition. This time was at Shift club. (Shift Club, 2013)
DJ Gloria Viagra, also known as the "Empire State Building of Drag", is the resident DJ for several parties and lead singer of Squeezebox. This photograph was shot during the Gegen-Homopatik party at Tresor club. (Tresor, 2013)
Gegen takes place every two months at the historic sex club KitKat; the name and theme of the party changes every time, creating new wordplays with the German word gegen, meaning "against" when used in a spatial or political context and "around" in a temporal one. This often gives the organisers the chance to mock the over-politicised Berlin underground scene. This photograph is from Gegen Ass. (KitKat, 2015)
There isn't a specific genre for the people who go to Gegen nights, because the party's philosophy is to be opposed to labels. The best mark is "techno-queer" but the audience is various: artists, DJs, bears, drag queens, punks, clubbers, ravers, transsexuals and young people in general. (Kitkat, 2015)
"The road of excess leads to the palace of…fabulousness!" This quote from Fanton Bailey's movie Party Monster is the best way to describe Berliner party-kids: I find many analogies between the current Berliner techno-scene and the one from New York in the 90's. (Shift Club, 2013).
Kitkat is world famous for its techno and trance parties, but especially for its transgressive parties. It's a huge building made up of dance-floors, lounges, fruit buffets, triple beds and also a swimming pool where people gather in the early morning. (Kitkat, 2013)
Gegen Nation Party. (KitKat, 2014.)
Gegen Nation Party. Kit Kat Club, 2014.
Gegen Bondage Party. (KitKat, 2014)
"Mysty" is the hostess of the Gegen crew: she offers free shots to the first one hundred people who get in. (Gegen Illusions, 2012)
The scene's "church" is Berghain, where they meet every Sunday morning. But they also visit many other places. In Berlin you can find somewhere every night, every day of the week. (Gegen Masks Party, 2012)
The infamous caravan of About Blank club, which hosts several parties like the well-known Buttons night (formerly Homopatik). The club is managed by a unique anti-German collective. (About Blank, 2010)
Super (right) was the Gegen resident VJ and performer, her gigs recalling magic or shamanic rituals. ("Gegen Innocence" party, Kit Kat Club, 2013)
Jump his bones."Gegen Innocence" party, Kit Kat Club, 2013.
Gegen party. (Kit Kat Club, 2012.)
Karina Qanir, a well-known techno DJ who has played the underground sinc e1998 is now a resident on Gegen's main floor. The three rooms on this night were playing "Drone" (industrial and experimental), "Brightness" (German funk and New Wave classics) and "Secret" (deep-house and disco). (Kit Kat Club, 2013)
"Gegen Birthday" party.( Kit Kat Club , 2014.)
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