Advertorial

A Photographer's Eye View of Life in Berlin During the 90s Rave Era

In the second of a series of photo stories brought to you by Jågermeister, we look at electronic subculture in Germany.
14 January 2016, 5:08pm

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 first article here) is captured in all its transgressive glory – enjoy!

When the wall came down, amid the rubble, desolate streets, empty warehouses and squats emerged a new music scene. In East Germany, the summer of 1990 became known as the "Summer of Squatting" and even after it was over, when the government started taking back the squatted buildings, the mentality of appropriating spaces continued. And up sprung the temporary clubs and raves that typify the 1990s scene in Berlin.

The hedonistic freedom of West Berlin upped sticks to a vacant tunnel in East Berlin to forge a cultural landmark: Tresor. When the technoparades started, E-Werk opened and Paul van Dyke and Maurizio entered the scene. Berliners eyes were opened, literally and metaphorically, to a new scene – untamed and outside of the normal limits of the law and the lenses of photographers.

The photographer Tilman Brembs, however, is an exception to this rule. "I started working at Tresor in 1991 and was in and about the techno scene in its beginnings – always with my camera at hand. In 1992, I started working at Frontpage as the in-house photographer for the techno magazine of the time. Usually it was forbidden to photograph in the clubs, but I had a special kind of permission – where it exactly came from, I cannot say," he tells us. Brembs's archive includes 20,000 photographs taken on 35mm film and is an unrivalled record of this scene.

We capture a selection below:

This was the moment when the brand new Tresor neon sign was installed. The advert pasted below is very fitting: "Berlin Masterpieces".

The entrance to E-Werk after the Loveparade. This was around 10am and the queue wasn't any shorter than Berghain's queue is these days.

The first Loveparade to take the new route through the Tiergarten park (the centre of Berlin had become too narrow for the crowds of people).

A big rave without a smartphone in sight. Also note the surplus of men.

Two girls showing their passion at the Loveparade by Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. It was nice that back then it didn't matter what you were wearing.

DJ Woody backstage with a parrot at E-Werk – these moments, in close company, were the most fun.

Prodigy playing at E-Werk during a club concert. I didn't only lose my camera that night, but also all most of my memories.

Boy George with some drag queens at the Frontpage party at the Kongresshalle. He enjoyed the German beer.

DJ Keoki appears sad backstage at Tresor. He was one of the first American super-DJs that came to Tresor.

Back then we occasionally had big eyes, but we also always maintained perspective.

Dr. Motte, the founder of the Berlin Loveparade, on the decks at the Island of Youth in Treptow, Berlin. Back then, Motte always wore a straitjacket to go with his "doctor" persona.

Who said that drag queens always want to look on point?

The British jungle DJ Goldie played at a Metalheadz night and, strictly speaking, you weren't allowed to take pictures of him. I took my chance as I was walking past and the result is a photograph is one of my absolute favourites.

The Detroit-based DJ K-HAND in front of the Reichstag. In 1995, the Reichstag was wrapped up by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude and even visitors from as far away as Detroit were visibly impressed.

DJ Terrible licking a toad. Back then all sorts of new trends popped up to expand your consciousness. In this case it was only a plastic toy.

Waltzing in camo gear has an involuntary humour to it. I see it as an unintentional caricature.

This stand was set up at a big rave selling these special sunglasses that projected light reflections onto the wearer's eyes. They were called "brain machines" and people were convinced that they got you high.

This outfit was imported by the young ravers from the UK where the rave duo Altern-8 were the role models.

The exterior wall of Tresor was covered in signs of the times. "Hartcore light" was my creation.

The 1990s were also the time of wildly-coloured body hair. Here's an example that helped with detection in even the darkest of clubs.

Check out Spice's best long-serve drinks and how to make them here.

Advertisement