Macumbista runs the Voodoo down: Berlin venues

Images from Phantom Clubs of Berlin/Liverpool (1998-1999), by Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani. This photo series, of illegal clubs shot at midday when there’s simply no real sign of their existence, reminds me of my first few visits to Berlin, wandering around Mitte and Friedrichshain until all hours with a Brazilian architect friend looking for that totally happening club we’d read about in a magazine somewhere. Seeing this photo exhibit a year later in Prague, suddenly it all made sense!

Tonight, I just finished making a fairly long–but not exhaustive by any means–list of Berlin venues for a few people I know who are shipwrecked by the holidays here. Since so few people who live in Berlin (and almost none of the people in the art & music scene) actually come from Berlin, it’s a pretty quiet place between Christmas and New Years, as those of you who live here probably already figured out. You can even find a parking space these days! I moved here myself at exactly this time of the year a while back, and it took me more than a week (of empty clubs and bars) to finally figure out what all the fuss about Berlin was for. Don’t worry, it picks back up after New Years.

But if you were looking for things to do most of the year, you might want to get on the Echtzeit mailing list for “serious” improv/experimental concerts.

Also watch the calender of Ausland (or subscribe to their mailing list) for more minimal improv and assorted other flavors.

For more noisy stuff, check the Le Petit Mignon/Staalplaat list.

Club Transmediale/DISK/General Public has lots of events and a mailing list, as well as a huge week long festival at the end of January that’s worth a look.

NBI has IDM (if you can stand that kind of shit).

And M12 has lots of electronic music (and Mika Vainio’s dubious DJ sets) on the weekends [RIP]

Lots of things are happening at the Festsaal Kreuzberg (Skalitzer Strasse 133, Kotbusser Tor) and also in their basement, but since different people run these events it’s hard to get info from one source…. Le Petit Mignon list is probably best source, although bigger events (recently Circle, Ghost, Crippled Black Phoenix, The Ex…) get postered around town.

Rinus van Alebeek runs Das Kleine Field Recording Festival as well as things in spaces I’ve usually never heard of before or again.

OHMNoise/Dienstbar does lo-fi noise in out-of-the-way places like Wedding.

Wendel (Schlesische Str.) has a weekly jazzy improv session with Andre Vida/The Instrument.

Hair Entertainment seems to favor booking the kind of North American “freak folk” that The Wire were falling all over themselves writing about a couple years back.

Battiston82 book stuff that sounds like Lightning Bolt or Ariel Pink in different places around town.

Jason Forrest/Donna Summer and some other kooky French expats runs the ultra-trashy Birthday Party series. Their New Year Party might be on my list this year for lack of anyplace better to go… [RIP?]

West Germany (Skalitzer Strasse, Kotbusser Tor, Kreuzberg) book things as well, but have no real website nor proper mailing list to speak of. Mostly, you’re left looking for photocopied posters, or if you’re lucky then one of the more outgoing promoters I’ve mentioned here might send you an email about it. In the same building (an old doctor’s office complex) are two of Berlin’s trendier/trashier lounge/bars: Monarch and Paloma. The gay/lesbian version of these places is across the road in the Moebel Olfe building.

This week only! Get your Geek on! The Chaos Computer Club has it’s 24th annual meeting at C-Base.

And lastly there’s the Salon Bruit sessions, for electronics, noise and improv. (Probably one of the easiest places to get a gig in Berlin, for those who might be looking…)

In fact, it just strikes me that this is a pretty good list for people trying to get booked in Berlin as well. Just be prepared for the Berlin performer’s cut of the Berlin door money. Is it enough for a taxi home? Another drink? Döner-kebap and the greasy fist? Hmmm…..

On the other hand, a few very good venues have shut their doors forever here in Berlin in the last year: the Zentrale Randlage, Tesla, Scherer8 and Stralau68 all called it quits. RIP. The Ballhaus Naunynstrasse and the Volksbühne will soon change their artistic leadership and/or profiles as well, quite possibly getting rid of the kind of concerts people like us dig in the process, and the Bastard will also close in 2008. Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

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