Sorry Sunday Times, Berlin’s clubs aren’t “satanic”

by James Glazebrook

A week before our last visit to Berghain, Zoë’s parents read something that gave them cause for concern. According to a hysterical article in The Sunday Times, the UK’s most popular weekly newspaper, inside the (in)famous Berlin club the “smell of sex is overpowering”. I’ve never smelt anything like that inside the club, but I did get a whiff of something when I opened the copy of the Times my in-laws mailed to us. Bullshit.

Berlin's "return to decadence" by The Sunday Times

I can’t link to the article, because the News International dinosaurs have hidden it behind a paywall – which is either unfortunate or lucky for you, depending on how much you like to be angered by sensationalism and lies. (As you’re about to find out, I love it.) You can however, see the “trailer” for the article (click through on the image above), and read a pretty decisive dismantling of it over on skruff.com. Quoted there, former Bar 25 resident DJ Beaner is the voice of reason:

it’s just the basic London journalism. You know, it’s using vague second hand non-facts to prove a story that you set out to write already… That kind of stuff [writer Christopher Goodwin] described does exist in a few places in Berlin though I honestly think Berlin was wilder and more hedonistic a few years back.

The point is not that sex and drugs aren’t common features of certain Berlin nightspots, just that they aren’t everywhere, in every club – as Goodwin suggests. His assertion that “the Berlin scene is driven by such blatant sexual licentiousness and ubiquitous drug-taking that it would make the denizens of the decadent Weimar clubs of 1920s Berlin blush in their velvet coffins”, is based 75% on a visit to the Kit Kat Klub, and 20% on a trip to Berghain. If you go to a fetish club, you are going to see sex, and if you go to a gay club, you are going to see gay stuff.

To “report” such goings-on so pornographically (“a model-beautiful blonde woman in her early twenties is being taken from behind by an athletic young guy as she orally gratifies another man while stimulating a third with her hand”) and to imply that they take place in every Berlin club is far more irresponsible than any of the participants’ actions. Labelling an article “not suitable for children” is the worst kind of tabloid journalism, as is the use of homophobic and demonising language (“minces”, “as satanic as the club he owns”) and the outrageous, downright racist suggestion that “many fear [Berlin] will degenerate into a crisis as serious as that which gave rise to Nazism.”

Count yourself lucky you can’t read this shit. But be prepared for questions from concerned relatives back home who have been conned into believing that everyone in Berlin is fucking and drugging themselves silly, out in the open. Just be straight with them: drug-taking is more open here, but probably no more prevalent than clubs in London or anywhere else; the sex is consensual and takes place in designated fetish clubs (which also exist everywhere); and you’ve seen far fewer casualties of substance abuse or violence here than anywhere else you’ve ever lived. Stick that in your bigoted, fear-mongering pipe and smoke it, Sunday Times.

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