JIM CAR­ROLL ON THE RECORD

A decade on, Berghain still holds its rep as the the best club in the world, but for how long?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

The front page of Ger­man news­pa­per Der Tagesspiegeln is not where you’d usu­ally ex­pect to find Sven Mar­quardt on a Sun­day morn­ing. But when the most fa­mous bouncer in the world has a book of pho­tos and Hugo Bass T-shirts to flog, you’ll find him turn­ing up in some in­con­gru­ous set­tings to talk about his past as a model and his fond­ness for walk­ing around aban­doned abat­toirs.

The colour­ful Mar­quardt’s celebrity is largely down to his job run­ning the door at the Berghain club. It’s also a prime ex­am­ple of the con­tin­ued cur­rency of the venue based in a for­mer power plant in Berlin. Open since 2004, Berghain has be­come the most fa­mous un­der­ground club in the world – in­fa­mous too, judg­ing by the cov­er­age de­voted to the club’s un­pre­dictable door pol­icy.

We’ve been here be­fore. When it comes to cel­e­brat­ing (fetishis­ing?) spa­ces and venues, dance mu­sic reg­u­larly comes over all dizzy. Ev­ery city has its revered spa­ces, which some­times at­tract wide-eyed vis­i­tors from else­where keen to see what the fuss is about.

Of­ten, th­ese venues are only eu­lo­gised after the doors have closed and the wreck­ing ball has swung. Look at the nostal­gia sur­round­ing Sir Henry’s in Cork, for in­stance, which was re­cently the sub­ject of an in-depth UCC ex­hi­bi­tion and pro­vided a back­drop for the play Deep. Surely sim­i­lar cul­tural odes are due for such Dubliny clubs as Sides, the Asy­lum or Olympic Ball­room.

Clubs, though, are re­ally about the mo­ment rather than nostal­gia. De­spite all the hype and hoopla which sur­rounds it, Berghain com­mands re­spect and at­ten­tion a decade on from open­ing be­cause it still de­liv­ers sem­i­nal mo­ments.

It might not be much to look at from the out­side, but it’s a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence once you walk through the doors. Once inside, the sound sys­tem, so crisp, clear and clean, hits you right away. The bare, con­crete walls, high ceil­ings and im­pos­ing, aus­tere power-plant in­fra­struc­ture re­main largely in­tact, but your at­ten­tion is firmly on what’s com­ing out of those speak­ers.

While the top floor has the Panorama Bar for those who tastes skewer to­wards house,

Berghain has be­come the most fa­mous club in the world – in­fa­mous too, judg­ing by the cov­er­age de­voted to its un­pre­dictable door pol­icy

the main at­trac­tion last Sun­day af­ter­noon was the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment on the Berghain floor. Ev­ery week­end, a galaxy of se­lec­tors re­draw and re­de­fine the sound­track be­cause they know that what works for this crowd (the door pol­icy en­sures a com­bi­na­tion of young and old, gays and straights, freaks and suits) will work on any techno-friendly floor in the world.

Of course, Berghain has its de­trac­tors. Any club this fa­mous al­ways will. And, just as clubs come and go and fash­ions rise and fall, Berghain too will one day be usurped in club­bers’ af­fec­tions by some­where else with a bet­ter story to tell. But that’s for the fu­ture. Right now, Berghain rules the roost.

YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS

David Bowie Low The lat­est sin­gle Sue (Or In A

Sea­son Of Crime) has a cer­tain sepia-tinge to it, enough to send us back to the fruits of Bowie’s Berlin so­journ in the 1970s. Low re­mains rich, ad­ven­tur­ous, enig­matic, melan­cholic and en­dear­ing and will send you trip­ping to an al­ter­na­tive uni­verse.

ETC

There are many rea­sons to head to the Cork Jazz Fes­ti­val next week­end – in­clud­ing some mu­si­cal ones. Es­to­ni­ans Villu Veski and Tiit Kalustie bring their Sounds of the Nordic Is­lands’ pro­gramme Lee­side, where they’ll be joined by En­sem­ble Eriu. Make a date for the Triskel Christchurch next Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 24th.

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