A line up that boasts home-grown Berliners alongside global house and tech heavyweights, in our favourite clubbing mecca – here, we talk you through Berlin Festival 15.
Berlin is hands down my favourite city in the world. Not only is it the most accepting place I’ve ever visited – with their anything, and I mean anything, goes attitude – it’s also got a music scene unrivalled by no other. If you like techno, that is. Thankfully I don’t just like techno, I love it, so from the minute my cab driver tuned into a heavy set on Berlin Community Radio en route to the city centre last Friday night, I knew I was in the right place for a weekend to remember (or maybe not).
Celebrating their 10 year anniversary, the annual Berlin Festival was back with a line up, and location, that was better than ever. Turning the city’s Arena Park into Berlin’s biggest club for the weekend – a space that included a colossal airport style hanger, a waterside outdoor stage complete with a swimming pool immersed in the river, a boat (that quite literally rocked), a grimey brick-walled room with temperatures that hit the roof and various smaller stages – the festival gods provided a carefully tailored clubbing experience like no other.
As expected in Berlin, the line up was house and techno-heavy, with home-grown names like Richie Hawtin, Fritz Kalkbrenner and Âme playing alongside those hand-picked from further afield – Seth Troxler, Ten Walls, Dixon, Underworld and Carl Craig. That’s the best thing about Berlin Festival – despite the stellar line-up recognised world wide, the ‘Brit abroad’ culture often found on the sands of Croatia each summer is no where to be seen. On the other end of the scale, if your head was in need of a rest from house you could escape the pummelling, brain-rattling beat in the Glashaus, where a welcome dose of R&B, hip hop and grime came served by Kelela, Ratking and Schlomo. Meanwhile Chet Faker interspersed the tech on the main stage and James Blake’s heartfelt croon sent neck-to-bum chills down many a spine.
Of course, when you’ve got a good group of mates, a Club-Mate in hand – that’s healthy, herbal, Red Bull for those unaware and before you ask, no, the variety of the aforementioned ‘erbs is not specified – and you’re in Berlin, what’s not to enjoy? Never fear, when the festival stops, the clubbing mecca has more fun to offer after hours (and by that I mean past 6am). Thanks to a local tour guide (a friend well-versed in techno hang-outs) we got down and dirty with Berlin’s underworld, where it’s pretty much dead cert that you’re darkest dreams and desires are destined to come true – if you let them, that is. Having experienced the weird and wonderful delights of Chalet, Club de Visionaire, Kater Blau (post-apocolyptic outdoor club complete with Teke Disko feature – a blacked-out phone box with disco ball, smoke machine, jukebox and camera for your pleasure) and Sisyphos (serves toothbrushes, deodorant, phone charging facilities and veg soup at the kiosk, so you quite literally question if you will ever leave) – all of which pretty much open Saturday night and close well past lunch time on Monday (making you wonder what these revellers do for a day job) – it’s safe to say you can kiss goodbye to sleep until you touch back down on British soil.
Am I tired? Yes. Was it worth it? Of course. Will I be going back to Berlin Festival in 2016? Without a doubt.
Words: Brooke McCord