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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
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There was the Dutch festival, Beyond, that constructed a fake Berghain front purely to turn people away at the door, a par that people willingly queued for, over and over again, while actual artists they’d paid to see were playing elsewhere onsite. Similarly, Berghain Trainer, an online game that simulates the experience of getting past the club’s door staff proved an internet sensation, attracting thousands of players and coverage on the website of historic daily broadsheet The Daily Telegraph, as well as basically every dance music news site going.

The simulation claims to analyse your body language and voice through a webcam and microphone and make its entry decision on those factors. However, a keen-eyed Tumblr account called Raving Code reverse engineered the game and discovered the results are completely random, with entry only possible between your eighth to twelfth consecutive attempt. But still to this day people flock to play the game, proudly posting success screenshots to Twitter and videos to YouTube, despite these just proving they wasted a good 10 minutes or so of their life slogging through the arbitrary simulation at least eight times in a row.

The examples go on. There’s an app that crowdsources information on the queue length outside so you can plan your arrival perfectly. If you do get stuck in a lengthy line, then time can be whiled away playing the Berghain-themed spoof of addictive mobile game Flappy Bird. And if you’re more interested in real life avian animals, then this designer can be commissioned to construct a Berghain bird box.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of Berghain’s position as dance music’s biggest meme is how it’s begun seeping into the mainstream. Hollywood actress Clare Danes name dropped the nightspot on international talk show Ellen in 2015; earlier this year r’n’b star Frank Ocean cited it as an influence on his album ‘Blonde’; and Conan O’Brien was spotted doing a comedy routine outside the entrance. This is representative of dance music’s continued rise to eminence in popular culture. Celebrities construct personal brands and sell themselves as people as much as their output, and commonly strive to exhibit the notion of cool. Adopting Berghain as an influence represents hitching on the coattails of the coolest aspect of an increasingly cool – and inspiring – subculture.

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