In August, the Resident Advisor film on Detroit gave us a chance to reflect on that city’s cultural response to economic catastrophe. To talk about a city that has seen sweeping change and challenge, it’s difficult to beat Berlin. Resident Advisor released the third installment of this series in September, but I missed it as I was traveling … somewhere … and it’s no less relevant today, least of all on a gorgeous, sunny day in the German capital on the eve of the coming winter.
The creators describe it thusly:
For the third edition of Real Scenes, RA and Bench go to one of the most special places for electronic music in the world: Berlin. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, techno became the underground soundtrack to the reunion between East and West. In recent years, it’s become an international destination for ravers—a cheap place to party with clubs that are renowned throughout the world.
Techno has become a business in the meantime. Yet Berlin still maintains a credibility that other cities lack. To understand why, RA and Bench went to the German capital eager to find out about its unique history and the reasons behind its continued relevance.
Like my long-time home of New York, Berlin has to answer regularly whether its place as a hub is all hype, whether its best days are behind it. I’d say some of Berlin’s unimaginably worst days are behind it, so this seems an odd question. In a place that served, more than once, as a backdrop against which humanity itself seemed as though it might tear itself apart, no degree of optimism and hope seems naive. Perhaps the same can be said of the planet. The wonderful thing about the Web age is the proliferation of all kinds of hubs and interconnects, some better-known and denser than others, but all vital and potentially growing. New York has had an ongoing run since the 17th Century; Berlin, longer. I suspect all of these places have more than a bit of life left, because of the generations of people who come through them that make it happen. Don’t believe the hype, true, but it’s our job to cut through that.
And yes, for those who haven’t worked this out yet, Berlin is at the moment my personal home base. So hello to those of you here.