Excited to be sharing the news that I’ve had a little contribution to the 2nd issue of Dive Magazine, which covers the amazing music city of Berlin. My feature shortly introduces four very different bars of the German capital (and capital of techno) that perfectly fits the dive-label.
If you’re looking for something that easily fits the divey-label, post-punk bar 8MM is as close as it gets. Rough and unassuming on the outside, the moody, dark and minimal living-room-sized venue is filled to the brim with character(s), attitude and many references to the medium of film, while certainly nothing you’d necessarily expect in the rather hip area of Prenzlauer Berg.
Consciously started by German-American Alex Konuk as a counterpoint to the prevalence of electronic music and techno that the city’s famous for, 8MM has always strived to cater for and nurture the underground Rock ‘n’ Roll scene since setting up shop in 2002.
Their idea of ‘local, hand crafted, organic, free range’ music, as they call it, is kept alive and well through their own record label, playing host to regular gigs and festivals like Mellochfest showcasing up-and-coming talent or Synästhesie Festival, dedicated to bringing together international musicians with Berlin’s finest, emerging underground artists that fit the 8MM bill.
‘When you’re entering the space, you’re a little stunned for the time being, before you’re actually spoilt ripe’, says Monarch’s chieftain Ingo Ohm. ‘When’ is being the operative word here. Finding your way into the venue might prove a fiddly business for uninitiated night owls: Nestled in a brutalist, run-down 70s estate building along the infamous Kottbusser Tor, up a graffiti-plastered staircase and past half-barricaded doors, it definitely does its best to stay hidden.
Maybe it’s that whiff of exclusivity that turned Monarch into one of Kreuzberg’s hot night out commodities over the years. Surely it’s the stunning panoramic views across the area, cheap drinks, a series of wild and versatile DJ sets and concerts that make sure that this lovely little, gritty venue is chock-a-block with punters bouncing off the walls more often than never.
Like with so many tiny DIY art spaces scattered over Berlin, it’s near impossible to pin Neukölln’s Loophole down to specific type of events, genres and themes or a particular crowd. Basically anything goes in the dingy, yet charming entity that made itself comfortable in what has once been a brothel not so long ago – industrial raves, post-punk gigs, site-specific installations, film screenings or sound performances, you name it. A creative collaborative laboratory, Loophole might well be one of these places you happily go to without checking what’s on the menu and still end up having a cracking night regardless. It might not always be pretty and polished, but certainly delivers the edgy, experimental and unpredictable. And who wants the norm after all?
Temple of Punk. Mother of New Wave. Embodiment of the anarchic, anti-establishment Berlin. When talking about pioneering venues that shaped what the capital’s music and club DNA, there’s no way around the legendary SO36. While Berlin has seen many places and trends come and go in a jiffy, the institution on Oranienstraße has remained a fixture over the past 40 years of doing things differently.
From the heady days as a hub for punk and the squat scene in the late 70s and early 80s, hosting experimental bands like Suicide, Dead Kennedys or Slime and becoming a regular hangout spot for Iggy Pop or David Bowie, SO36’s programme nowadays is as diverse as ever, always political and loyal to the alternative culture in whatever shape or form.
The usual punk, metal and hardcore combos are still part of the bill, now gracing the sacred halls alongside hip hop and techno artists, as well as public readings and panel discussions or Turkish LGBTQ+ electronic-dance-pop-fusion Gayhane. Here’s to passing down a tradition and starting a new one.
You can order a copy of the mag here.