From Covid to war in Ukraine: Berlin clubs reopen amid fresh concerns | Travel

In September 2021, when clubs in Berlin were allowed to reopen at least temporarily, people waited patiently in long queues, not too worried about catching the coronavirus. Then the next wave hit Germany.

Clubs in the capital were allowed to stay open, but in December the Berlin Senate imposed a controversial ban on dancing. According to a survey by the Club Commission, Berlin’s network of clubs and cultural promoters, 80% of the approximately 100 club operators and promoters surveyed said they had remained closed throughout.

Now, Berlin clubs are reopening, at full capacity, with no mask requirements or distancing rules. People only need to be vaccinated or recovered from Covid and present a new negative Covid test.

READ ALSO | From Covid to Ukraine: how do I explain it to my children?

Unlike last time, locations are reopening in the spring, which should mean they can stay open for a few months ⁠ — previous experience has shown that the pandemic usually gets worse during the winter.

Under normal circumstances, the reopening would be cause for celebration, but with war now raging in Ukraine, just two hours away, the long-awaited return to normalcy seems ill-timed. “We waited two years to be able to open without restrictions, but all our impatience before the opening disappeared,” Pamela Schobess, chairman of the Berlin club commission, told DW.

“We are amazed and appalled, which is why the preparation of the openings is strange,” said Schobess, who manages the Gretchen club of Berlin-Kreuzberg with his partner. Not opening Gretchen is not an option, she said, adding that her team is constantly assessing the situation. The club owner has no idea how many other clubs will reopen or potentially postpone their reopening due to the war in Ukraine.

READ ALSO | Study analyzes whether drugs affect the body’s response to infections like covid-19

A response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is however in preparation, including a fundraising campaign. Under the motto “Club Culture United – Stand Up For Ukraine”, the clubs plan to donate part of the entry fees to various aid organisations.

Individual club committee members have already collected food and clothing donations or traveled to Poland to help at the border with Ukraine.

Gretchen mounted a banner with doves of peace over her entrance.

It’s “a little weird to party”

The club scene nationwide has been hit hard by Covid restrictions and while clubbing may seem out of place at the moment for some people, it offers people a way to escape the horror images and the flood of news for a few hours.

“It’s kind of weird to party knowing there’s war in your home country,” Ukrainian DJ Alis, real name Alisa Chepel, said Thursday night during a set at the “United x Ukraine” event of the Anomalie Art Club. Donations from the event are intended for groups involved in the social and medical sectors.

“People in Berlin have really missed clubbing, they really want to go clubbing. And why not combine clubbing with donations? It really motivates people to go somewhere and if they do it in a good goal, why not?” adds the 25-year-old DJ, who has been living in Berlin for almost 7 years.

“Maybe it’s a good thing that we provide places where people can get together,” agrees Schobess, emphasizing the bonding nature of club nights. Club culture, she says, is not just about letting off steam, but also about expressing emotions, exchanging ideas with others and not being alone. “Clubs are very important for democracy,” says Schobess.

A gathering of people from different cultures and backgrounds who would otherwise never meet – precisely the aspect that people in the culture sector have been pointing to for two years, since clubs were forced to close for long periods .

The club scene is already looking far ahead, into next autumn and winter, wondering what will happen if the number of infections increases or if new virus variants hit a population without sufficient vaccine protection.

Special coronavirus financial support is expected to continue, the Berlin club’s board chairwoman said, adding that thanks in part to these benefits, all members of the association have managed to keep their venues afloat.

Looking for staff, hoping for clubbers

Currently, clubs are facing very different challenges, including that of reinteresting young people who, for two years, have found alternatives to clubbing. Older audiences may have developed new routines and it is unclear if they will return to clubs.

In addition to booking issues, venues are in desperate need of staff as many have left and found other jobs.

“We were the first to close and the last to reopen,” says Pamela Schobess of German clubs. People felt that clubs and discos were very dangerous. “But people want and need security.” Many clubs, she says, are still in the preparation phase and will only open gradually.

Pamela Schobess says she can’t predict how crowded the clubs will be. “If it hadn’t been for the war of Russian aggression, I would have said that people yearn for the nightlife and they will come.” Today, that trust is gone.

Comments are closed.