LEISURE SYSTEM 16
Berghain, Berlin | July 20th
If there are two things us Germans are really good at, it’s sausages and techno. So the Berghain editions of Leisure System present a much needed interlude from the Berlin titan’s usual unrelenting barrage.
Berghain is named for geographically straddling the quarters of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. Set in an old power station, the 1500 capacity venue has a fetish sex room in the basement and ice-cream parlour in the attic, just to keep things neutral.
However, actually getting in to Berghain is on par with qualifying for an Olympic sport. If you can muster the mental endurance of a 3km queue added to the hour of existential questioning, you still need to make it past the bouncers, whose door policy varies from slightly stingy to fucking fascist at the best of times.
If you do get in (and about half of the mile-long queue for Leisure 16 didn’t), walking up the stairs that lead to Berghain is like rediscovering Das Techno. You’ll lose your bearings, your friends, and your memory, and permanent tinnitus is achieved within the hour. Friday nights are usually separate event nights, so everyone present was there specifically for the immense LS line up. The label’s very own Puzzle opened with a London-Berlin musical mulatto, continued on by Kuedo, joined onstage by MFO for a phenomenally inventive audio-visual display.
British threesome Factory Floor, signed to DFA, took things back to post-war Deutschland with an industrial experimental techno performance, a shifting of the club usual parallels which went down phenomenally well. The sounds were accompanied by an epilepsy-grade visual show, and at points we weren’t sure if the kids were dancing or fitting. Simultaneously happening upstairs in Panorama bar was DJ Qu. Surrounded by the room’s two by three metre Wolfgang Tillmans photographs (we’ll let you google that NSFW gem for yourselves), he had a solid unit of pilgrims lined up at the DJ booth hanging for high fives.
Headliner Joy Orbison kept us dancing till 6 am with a mega three hour set, turning Pan Bar into a hands-in-the-air, euphoric, whooping mess, each and every tune spot on; a bit of bleepy electro junk, some nondescript techno for the locals, and a fine intrusion of old-skool garage snuck in for good measure. As he finished with ear-worm de jour, Andrés’s New for U, we saw grown men hug each other and weep.
Leisure System 16 was aural violation at its best.
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Words: Ayesha Sha Sha