Thomas Rogers, “Berghain: The Secretive, Sex-Fueled World of Techno’s Coolest Club” (Rolling Stone, February 6, 2014) // Moritz Von Oswald @ The Bunker, Output, Brooklyn (February 8, 2014) // The Man From Tomorrow (dir. Jacqueline Caux, feat. Jeff Mills), The Studio Museum (February 13, 2014) // Zeke Turner, “Brooklyn on the Spree” (New York Times, Style, February 23, 2014)
One drizzly afternoon last November, I found myself in a bizarre situation: an hour-plus phone call with a magazine-features writer, providing background on Berlin techno culture and its famed Berghain club, which he was looking to cover for a prominent New York-based general-interest publication. He’d already written a few good music articles, expertly diving into subjects others would dismiss as skimpy, balancing analysis, insight and bystander-color to come up with the goods for both the lay-person and the nerd. And while I still harbor desires to tackle the subject of techno for the masses, such a dream (or the access to fulfilling it) remains obscure in the fog of my life. So I thought it better that this piece be written by a person of letters and ideas, rather than get slept-on by me, or tortured into being by one of the eminently employable critical recidivists, recently trying their hand at covering this beat due to the domestic EDM bubble.
The conversation went well. We were temperamentally simpatico, with enough in common (age, people, experiences, kids) that the posturing was minimal. He’d already been well tutored on the classics (Detroit, acid house, Tresor, Fabric, Ibiza), recognized the topic’s complexity, and showed to be sufficiently fluent in what may be morally questionable aspects of clubbing. (Win.) He was ready to go, and I think I was helping him get there faster. Still, it didn’t stop me from acknowledging the oddity of the moment: Here were some of my life’s most profound epiphanies, exposed to hi-beam levels of journalistic inspection, the kind usually reserved for proportionately weightier or sexier topics. It seemed odd that a micro-culture such as techno would now be ready for media Main Street (though that’s probably just another thing to blame on the Internet’s celebration of “the deep, authentic experience”). So despite noting the dissonance, my testimony was willing and unreserved, and for a few months now, I’d mostly forgotten both it and my interrogator.
The writer in question was not Thomas Rogers, whose piece on the Berghain and the Berlin scene Rolling Stone published last month, and which, knowing how big magazines work, may contribute to the spiking of my acquaintance’s story from ever appearing. But I’d be a liar if I said that reading Rogers’ piece didn’t reignite my concerns about cherished memories getting raided and cashed in for distracted effect.