Anthems: Bar25, Berlin (2004-2010)

Posted: July 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Although it closed in 2010, Bar25 still holds a very special place in Berlin clubbing history. Established in 2004, it introduced a hedonistic playground atmosphere to a scene that often preferred to appear sombre and serious. There are countless tales about what wild abandon happened between the wooden fence shielding the club from everyday life and its naturally occuring other boundary, the Spree river, where from the opposite bank or passing boats you could watch a very escapist crowd roam the vast area on marathon weekends. Its soundtrack of minimal and quirky tech house grooves that still work even when held back by a limiter is as synonymous with the Berlin party experience as are the improvised wooden interiors, psychedelic decor and joyful ideas that spawned a legion of other clubs to follow suit since its closure. Now rejuvenated as part of the Holzmarkt project in the same space, we’re taking a look back at the sounds that represented the club. To do this we enlisted someone very close to the project, who could also share some of his favorite memories from the club: Jake The Rapper, a former Bar25 resident DJ.

Mathew Jonson “New Identity” (Itiswhatitis 2001)

This is an excellent example of original minimal, and minimal was my gateway into the whole techno scene and later Bar25. I feel like there were a lot of parallel scenes happening in the Bar at the same time, so I can’t really say this was the blueprint for the Bar25 sound, but it’s definitely the one I went deep into. When other DJs and their fans would take over right after something I was into, I’d be like, “What is this? This is totally different. I don’t get it”—which is just fine, as the place fed on variety and experimentation. There was also a whole other floor called The Circus that was dedicated exclusively to weirdness and avant-garde music. It was a very open time for music and a very open place. It certainly expanded my tastes and skills and every other part of my mind. But this track, although it came out three years before Bar25 opened, definitely laid the groundwork for the kind of vibe that was really appreciated. This was deep and trippy and softly took me to a place I really wanted to go after having been dancing, partying and socializing—sometimes for days on end.”

Elektrochemie “Pleasure Seeker” (Get Physical 2005)

This has some elements of electroclash that were really big at the time. This was the same time when Peaches, Mocky, Gonzales, Puppetmastaz and so on were some the biggest Berlin acts. It definitely influenced pop music and of course in the Bar as well, although it generally went with a more minimal sound than this. This was a big banger in comparison to what usually came before and after it. Is it a bit cheesy? Yes it is. But it’s so smooth that it inevitably got everyone deep up in there and fully involved. Plus I had a few numbers that use this same half-tone progression, and I chose this one for being the most representative of that time and also one that is still playable today.”

Egoexpress, “Aranda” (Ladomat 2000 2005)

I know this doesn’t even seem like a dance track at all—very mellow. But if I played this during the day between minimal tracks, people really loved it. it’s instantly recognizable without being too poppy or kitschy; it’s deep without being too melancholic—it’s really quite a piece of work. The lyrics are just single nouns in a row—“a life, a room, a house, a street.” It seems to comprise cut-up parts of a poem, and yet it expresses a mood and a scenario that’s somehow Lynchian. And then there are these minor guitar chords that go easy on ya. There’s no kick drum—or any drums per se—and yet it totally grooves and got people dancing, at least in the Ranchette at the Bar25. That may be why the place was unique, you could really DJ tracks to celebrate their spirit without having to kowtow to dance floor dynamics. There was already such a suspense and energy there, even when it was half full a little would go a long way.”

Gui Boratto, “Arquipélago” (K2 2005)

I feel like this track, despite the fact that it became a tech house club hit nationally and internationally, nonetheless captured the sound of the Bar25. Remember that a lot of the time it was daytime, so something with a deep, warm sound made a lot more sense in bright sunlight than in a dark club. A lot of these kind of songs I think gained popularity through the surge in open-airs and daytime clubs like Bar25. This might have put everybody to sleep in the average German dance club in 2005. But when it’s around midday and you’re sitting, looking out at the Spree while a light breeze makes the straw in your gin and tonic move around so you hear the ice in your glass tinkle…you see yourself reflected in your friend’s sunglasses and you look like you’re really enjoying yourself, and then this big soothing, massaging synth surface lifts you up and you have to just stand up and go YEAHHH! …yeah, that’s a Bar25 moment for me.” Read the rest of this entry »


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