Ravers at the Konfettinacht in 2007

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Carolin Saage


The Ravers still go to the Berlin dancefloors, as the Konfettinacht Club shows in 2007

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some of the city's clubbers and DJs are reminded of the extent to which illegal raves have brought together a once-divided nation.

Berlin is today a temple for dance music lovers from all over the world, ready to leave their prejudices at the door of the discotheque and to collectively go to the rhythm of music.

It was not so long ago, however, that scenes of this nature were physically and ideologically impossible.

While British baggy enthusiasts gathered for a second, long-lasting summer of love, the inhabitants of the German capital remained divided by a 27-mile wall.

After its collapse on November 9, 1989, as well as rubble and dust, a sudden explosion of clandestine celebrations took place in buildings, railway stations and vacant power stations.

Unlike ancient nightclubs, these ecstasy-fueled nights inspire new sounds of Detroit techno and the Chicago acid house, while mimicking the free holiday experience at Ibiza and Manchester Hacienda Club.

& # 39; Utopian & # 39;

Heiko Hoffmann, who was a teenager at the time, said that the "massive passage" to rave culture had instantly "changed my life".

Previously, Berliners like him could only visit the East with a day pass. In general, the people of the east could not cross the border.

"Just weeks after the fall of the wall, I was dancing in industrial ruins alongside people from the East, whom I would not have met two months earlier," says Hoffmann, the co-curator. new No Photos on the Dance Floor! exposure.

"All this was basically very raw techno music," he says, explaining that the name of the collection refers to the dominant culture of protecting party-goers from the judgment of the camera that sees everything.

"If anybody told you today that North Korea and South Korea would be reunited next week, a new form of radical music that you did not know existed already existed, and that people would dance together in unpublished and unused spaces … for both, one would think that it's completely utopian.

"It's what happened 30 years ago."

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Martin Eberle


Outside, the Tresor nightclub, which was built in the vaults of a former department store next door to the Potsdammer Platz – a no-man's land literal during the partition.

Wild nights in often temporary and industrial spaces close to the wall, from Potsdamer Platz to Fredreichshain, have perfectly adapted primitive music and sound / light systems.

Hoffmann believes that the conditions were right for this unique scene to develop, as there was "a social change taking place, as well as a musical change".

"Germany was reunited for the first time on the dancefloor of these evenings, and it was no longer necessary to distinguish between East and West.

"I think it's crucial that it's not people from East Berlin who are already dancing to music or going to spaces that were spaces in West Berlin, but that the people of West and East may discover together a radically new thing. "

"A friendly revolution"

It took almost a year for Germany to be officially reunified in October 1990. Despite this, there were still many legal gray areas.

East Berliner Sebastian Szary from Modeselektor Electronic Music Duet recalls how budding young DJs and party-goers like him took full advantage of it.

"Everything was possible because there was no rule, the government was still in a gray area – in a no man's land – and the law was not written" , did he declare.

"The reunification was done, but there were many things that were not clear.As the police knew that there were illegal parties but [they said] "We do not know what to do – let them party!"

The British and other Western European countries soon "found the playground to realize their dreams", forming collectives while taking advantage of the cheap rent and "positive energy" of East Berlin .

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Birgit Kaulfuss


Sebastian Szary (right) and classmate from East Berlin, Gernot Bronsert, form the Berlin electronic duo Modeselektor

"I am 100% sure that it is the result of a friendly revolution," he adds.

"There was a chance for the revolution to go in another direction with riots and a war – it was really close.

"During the next four years, there were countless illegal parties, some in forests for hundreds and thousands of people, and the Love Parade was growing."

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Matthias Roeingh


An aerial view of Love Parade 2003, from the Berlin exhibition of the 90s, shows how popular it was.

The appetite for a reunited Germany and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the very symbol of the cold war between Soviet communism and Western democracies, was already evident in the staging of the first Love Parade festival in Berlin. July 1989..

150 people – led by Matthias Roeingh, aka Dr Motte – took to the streets for a demonstration of peace, love and music.

This would become an important part of the rave calendar, in Berlin and beyond, for decades.

Work permit issues forced the parade to leave the city in 2007, and the tragic death of 21 people in Duisburg in 2010 ended the parade.

"Restarting a life"

Quirin Graf Adelmann, whose exhibition in Berlin about the 90s tells the story of the event, pointed to the mass unemployment that prevailed in the east of the city, to the The Soviet era made the DIY dance movement an attractive proposition for many.

"Imagine that 3.2 million people in Berlin have lost their sense of life and feel useful to society for lack of jobs," he said.

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Mike Trobridge


Festivalgoers partied in the streets of Berlin and at the top of a truck at Love Parade 1992

"All education for the last 40 or 50 years has been blown away, and people aged 16 to 22, starting their professional life, have seen that everything they learned about disappearing was gone."

"So it was the early '90s. And what do you do when you are released from old stories and without education?" he asks.

"You are trying to invent yourself again, which means that you have to experiment everything, you have to start something new and that is what many people have tried in Berlin.

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Tilman Brembs


More party-goers: Dance at Marco, Insel der Jugend in 1991, from the movie No Photos on the Dancefloor! exposure

"On the one hand, there was an unemployment rate of 20%, and on the other hand, 50 different nations from around the world came to Berlin to feel the start of a lifetime."

"Queer culture was crucial"

As the stage progressed – and original underground nights like Tekknozid and UFO gave birth to clubs such as the legendary Tresor and E-Werk – two elements were essential to its prosperity.

Firstly, unlike in the United Kingdom and other European countries, clubs and bars in Berlin were not closed at a given time, due to the suppression of the curfew in 1949. The evenings could therefore be unroll literally all weekend.

"There are places that have never been closed for 17 years – they will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Hoffmann.

And secondly, the driving influence of the gay community in places such as Metropol – which was previously "the Berlin equivalent of Studio 54", he adds, referring to the famous New York night club. York.

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Wolfgang Tillmans


Clubbers line up for a "sex-positive" gay night at the Snax Club in East Berlin in 2001, which still hosts Berghain Super Club parties

"It was basically Berlin's largest queer nightclub, when the wall collapsed and the techno scene started, which is great, the early nights were not really gay nights, or weird nights – but some kinds of backgrounds came together, "he recalls.

"So you had football hooligans, and queer [people] and it does not really matter. "

& # 39; Influential & # 39;

Not everyone was a fan of this newly opened party town, but over the next three decades, more and more "Easy Jet kidnappers" – as they became known – flooded.

Scorpions radio hymns, David Bowie and David Hasselhoff may have initially "spread the message in the world", "this"freedom"had arrived in Berlin, but it is this new experimental" music music "directed by a DJ that was really recorded at that time.

As Hoffmann notes in his exhibition, a whole generation of Berlin clubbers "have not stopped dancing yet", some next to their own sons and daughters, in places such as the famous Berghain.

Szary, who will perform in London next weekend, is confident that you can still hear the influence of 90s techno, breakbeat and Berlin in electronic dance music (EDM) and the pop charts aujourd & # 39; hui.

"It's a fundamental part of commercial music now."

"It's a copy of a copy of a copy," he laughs. "But the influence is still there."