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
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Richard Dawkins, who coined the term meme as meaning "an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture" in a Darwinian sense of gradual and unnoticed evolution, distinguished internet memes as contrived and traceably proliferated. Berghain is cool, understanding references to Berghain is cool, and proving this understanding to others is cool. The sharing of its memes is linked to this emotional response; a twinge in your cerebral cortex as you recognise the reference, smile, and click the RT button, re-asserting all three points.

Writing on the website PhilosophyTalk.org, John Perry noted the parallels between internet memes and genes, reflecting “like genes, [memes] compete with each other. The memes that win survive. The memes that lose, die off.” This highlights that the spread of Berghain memes reflects Berghain’s unparalleled position as the finest and most renowned institution in dance music.

Of course you won’t see a Lego version of a by-numbers basement dive, because no one would care. Of course a festival won’t construct a front resembling a commercial club, because no one would care. Of course an A-list actor won’t reference a chart-pop venue on prime time TV, because no one would care. And so on. The only time you’re likely to see clubs of this ilk in a meme is to Berghain’s left in a “you versus the guy she told you not to worry about” tweet.

I remember my first, and only, visit to the hallowed halls of the ‘hain. Staring hard-faced at Sven whilst my insides squirmed and my heart pulsated at a BPM faster than the one currently being pounded out through the club’s system (one does not simply get in to Berghain, after all). The elation as I was waved through. The electric thrill inside that never dips, with everyone so delighted to be there, having gotten past its famously picky bouncers and onto its life-affirming dancefloors. Berghain is fucking brilliant, basically. And so it makes perfect sense that it has become a meme: it invokes an emotional response like no other club can. Its meme status is of no detriment to its reputation, it just so happens that in 2016 cultural significance unfolds online in disposable-yet-celebratory internet humour. Now, can anyone name a more iconic duo than Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann? I’ll wait.

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter

Eliot Wyatt is a freelance illustrator and regular contributor to Mixmag. Visit his website

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