what’s behind our fascination with the clubs of berlin?

A new exhibition ‘No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989–Today’’ is showing 30 years of club culture in the capital of rave.

“That night, I became certain that this was the future,” says Heiko Hoffmann of his first Tekknozid party, a typical rave night that took place in East Berlin in the beginning of the 90s. The former editor-in-chief of Groove still remembers this night vividly. It was excessive, free and limitless: “There was this powerful feeling in the air that a new community was about to take form.”

No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989–Today is a new photography exhibition exploring that time. It has been co-curated by Hofmman and its title refers to Berlin clubs’s famously strict policy of not allowing photos to be taken inside the premises. “The club scene in Berlin couldn’t have developed the way it has without its no-photo policy. Which, by the way, existed long before smartphones did,” Hoffmann says. “But especially in the time of ‘pics or it didn’t happen!’ it’s important to have spaces where you can enjoy the moment without thinking about how to capture it and share it with the outside world.”

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Berlin’s clubs became the meeting point for a new emancipated generation. And still, to this day all over the world are seen as safe spaces for marginalised groups. “The rise of Berlin as an international techno metropolis and the possibility of low-budget flights within Europe fundamentally changed the club scene,” Hoffmann says.

But what lies behind our fascination with Berlin club culture? Behind the notion that thousands of people travel daily to the rave capital of the worlds to feel part of this phenomenon? For Hoffmann it’s the sense of community, even though it’s just a temporary one. “It’s the promise of a night that might lead you somewhere you never could’ve dreamed of. The promise of an environment where everyone is open-minded and curious and ready to lose themselves. That special feeling of being in the best place possible.”


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Photos: Header left: Wolfgang Tillmans, Untitled, 2012, (detail) © Wolfgang Tillmans. Right: Marco, Insel der Jugend, 1991 © Tilman Brembs. Text right: DJ KEOKIE, TRESOR 1991 © TILMAN BREMBS. Text middle: O.T., 2015 © SVEN MARQUARDT. Text left: OUTSIDE SNAX CLUB, 2001 © WOLFGANG TILLMANS. COURTESY GALERIE BUCHHOLZ BERLIN/KÖLN.