You might have already heard, but apparently Berlin quite likes a party. A city that habitually forgoes sleep so that its residents can cleanse themselves with sweaty shuffles from weekend to week start, the German capital has risen to the top ranks of party cities thanks to its considerable band of notorious nocturnals, and is well known as a site of great musical interest and even greater hedonistic lust. Heading to London’s EGG on Saturday 15th October, one child of the decadent Berlin house and techno scene will bring its homeland’s ethos to the UK, as Berlin Berlin takes over the North London club for a night and morning of doing it the German way.
“Everyone needs a never never land”, says Neo Cabaret performer and twisted story teller Von Kuntz, thinking about the importance of dance, costumes and clubs in offering relief from the world outside. “The normal "rules" of today's world go out the window. Sensation, dance, engagement, they are all real, conceivable things to enjoy; we think that opportunity is vital to sanity!”
Stories of parties that last from Friday through to Monday might have an almost mythological romance about them, but in some Berlin clubs they’re a fairly regular occurrence. One such place is the rarely spoken about Sisyphos, a club that was known by those in the know and few else until it finally became too hot a secret to hold onto. Drawing from some of the club’s unruly residents, Berlin Berlin delivers the storming house and traversing techno that has fuelled such activities, with Fidelity Kastrow, Jonty Skrufff and Juli.N More set to take the reigns of their fifth Berlin Berlin party this month. Seeking to get their audience dancing until they’re indistinguishable from the burlesque dancers and other entertainers that will dictate play in the EGG garden and club-within-the-club Apothecary, the Sisyphos regulars will join Chalet Club representative Mark Henning, [Percep-tion] label head Alexander Koning and more in keeping the party heaving from 11pm until 9am.
A flagship night for EGG, Berlin Berlin breaks down the boundaries of a normal club night with its risqué performances, “anything goes” ethos, and shamelessly Berlin attitude, making it a rarity in a city that so often sees the rules and regulations of the outside world infringe upon its vital nightspot havens.
Intrigued about what’s set to go down behind the guarded EGG doors on this exciting mid October night, Ticket Arena spoke to some of the performers that will be transporting EGG from London to Berlin. Speaking to the exquisitely named Fidelity Castro and her partner in crime Jonty Skrufff, we found out a little bit about the mentality behind a night that offers an escape from the daily grind, monotony and inhibitions.
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Let’s start with a little look at the scene that you call home. Is Berlin really the best place to be a DJ?
Fidelity Kastrow: "Berlin is a place for outsiders, people seeking asylum from consumerism, peer pressures of any kind, a get-away from anything or anyone expecting you to "fit-it". It's a place for freaks and geeks and anyone tired of submitting to a mundane lifestyle where you buy stuff you don’t need to impress people you don't like. It's a place where living and enjoying is more important than acquiring. A place where your status is determined by your integrity and not by your possessions. In short, it’s the best place I know for artists of any kind.”
Of all the politically-sourced DJ names that I’ve encountered on my travels, I’d struggle to name one better than Fidelity Kastrow. Is dance music a form of political expression?
Fidelity Kastrow: "Dancing is an expression of freedom. It's a way to express your innermost feelings and to communicate beyond the limitations of words. The more people come together to dance the stronger the message. What that message is, depends on the circumstances and surroundings but in any case it's a peaceful and powerful way to make a statement.”
(Fidelity Kastrow has made a name for herself with sets at Sisyphos - Photo: Heike Janichen)
Berlin Berlin aims to bring “Berlin’s wild soul” to London at a time when many people are suggesting that the city’s dance culture is being lost. What can the bigwigs in London learn from their German counterparts when it comes to preserving and improving nightlife?
Fidelity Kastrow: "Berliners seem to have a stronger sense of community, a stronger us-against-them-mentality, where people are more likely to unite and rise up against threats to their way of life. Berliners also have a deep understanding of what happens when you deny diversity and are more eager to question authority. When in London, I pick up much more of an interest in celebrity culture and social media, both known to breed insecurity and social isolation. Trying to compete with a celebrity lifestyle to preserve your sense of worthiness is a time-consuming competition with no real winners. It's OK to be broke and struggling, especially when you’re living an artistic or alternative life. In Berlin we identify with a phrase coined by our former mayor: "poor but sexy”. When you can be poor without feeling like a failure you'll find yourself amongst many, who are all in the same boat and can relate to your struggles. This way it's easier to unite under a common cause and to fight for your right to party.”
Both of you are residents at Sisyphos in Berlin, a lesser known but still somewhat notorious club in one of the most hedonistic party scenes in the world. Be honest now... have either of you completed the full Friday through to Monday rite of passage?
Fidelity Kastrow: "Sisyphos used to be Berlin's best kept secret of true underground clubbing, committed to a word-of-mouth those-who-know-know...those-who- don't-don't-worry way of throwing parties, without listings on RA or flyers etc.. And the longer you stay the less you remember...
Sisyphos sounds like a pretty special home. What made EGG London the right home for Berlin Berlin?
Jonty Skrufff: “We love Egg London director, Laurence Malice: he’s absolutely the first reason for our connection and we’re proud and honoured to be working alongside Laurence - as well as his lovely team.”
You’re not alone on the night, of course, with Mark Henning and co also on the bill. How well do you know your Chalet Club counterparts?
Jonty Skrufff: “We know them a little but not a lot, and the Berlin Berlin party is always a great place to get more acquainted”
One element of the Berlin scene being brought to EGG London will be the no cameras rule. What’s going in there that we’re not allowed to take photos of?
Jonty Skrufff: “Cameras kill the vibe and dilute and damage the magic.”
Techno DJs don’t always help themselves when it comes to separating themselves from the genre’s moody aesthetic. Tell us something that makes you smile.
Jonty Skrufff: “People being thrown out of Berlin clubs for using camera phones.”
So let’s say I’m a British clubber on my holiday down in London and what I desire most is an authentic Berlin clubbing experience; will Berlin Berlin grant me my wish by turning me away on the door at the end of a lengthy queue?
Jonty Skrufff: “You’ll have to check with the Berlin Berlin London team - maybe?”
Let’s finish on a tune. You’ve got one track to make the transition from a banging party to a Berlin party. What’s your trusty weapon?
Jonty Skrufff: “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you (assuming Berlin Berlin let you in next week).
Berlin Berlin takes place on Saturday 15th October, meaning that Berlin experience you’ve been craving need not be so far away.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Ryan Dinham unless specified