Let's face it: Berghain has become dance music's biggest meme - - Mixmag
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Let's face it: Berghain has become dance music's biggest meme

The Berlin club is a cultural institution – and an internet phenomenon

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Illustration: Eliot Wyatt
  • 24 October 2016

Black clothes, poker-faced DJs, heads firmly down on the dancefloor: all these features are commonly found within the sphere of techno, dance music’s most serious genre. Meanwhile, internet memes are considered one of the more frivolous aspects of 21st century culture. Disposable jokes that exist solely for the minutes they cause mirth, before being cast into the obscurity of web cache folders.

And yet Berghain, the long-standing, revered centre of European techno, a club hosted inside a stark and imposing former power plant built in the era of Soviet-controlled East Berlin, has without doubt become the scene’s biggest meme.

That’s not to say the institution itself is the embodiment of a joke. There’s not going to be a *freeze frame* on the dancefloor if a record scratches in the booth (though you may find yourself clutching your fist in anger like Arthur after being turned away at the door). The club is at the bleeding-edge of electronic music, inviting everyone from Skepta to PC Music to The Black Madonna and its parties are some of the most energised and downright fun in the world. But it has become a very prominent subject of dance-orientated humour.

Cheeky homages to the German nightspot hit the internet with more regularity than a Norman Nodge kick. Last month a campaign was announced to fund the development of an unofficial Berghain card game, which sees players occupy the role of notorious doorman Sven Marquardt in vetting the clientele allowed entry, featuring characters like ‘leather daddy’ and ‘ketamine fiend’. It’s impossible to imagine anyone showing the slightest bit of interest in a playing card game based on any other club. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine anyone showing the slightest bit on interest in a playing card game outside of a casino. Yet word of Berghain ze Game has spread through fans of dance music faster than a 3am come up, highlighting the club's eminently viral status.

Popular Tumblr blog whenyoulivein.berlin has multiples pages of gif content caricaturing Berghain attendees’ behaviour. A Facebook page dedicated wholly to Berghain memes titled Just Berghain Things has garnered thousands of likes, luring in fans with content spanning image macros referencing hallmarks of the venue to famous artwork slapped over shots of the interior. Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam becomes even more homoerotic when imposed onto a dark cubbyhole of the club. It was on the JBT page that we discovered the Lego Berghain mock-up that took social media timelines by storm, reaching new levels when one fan spent money purchasing the bricks to construct it IRL. Considering the infantile behaviour many techno fans relentlessly display in internet comments and @ mentions, it wasn’t too surprising to see this children’s toy meme come to fruition.

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