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Kasi, We Hardly Knew Ye: Das Klubsterben Claims Another Victim

After nearly two decades in the business of “dark” music, K17, the multi-level club and concert venue at Pettenkoferstraße 17a, is closing its doors this weekend. The announcement came at the end of March. The club remains enigmatic on the reason for the closure, but anyone who’s noted the recent bloom of luxury apartments along the condo-rrific corridor behind the Ring Center (indeed, my own discovery of the place some years ago found the way obfuscated by construction and scaffolding) can probably draw their own conclusions. It’s a pattern Berlin knows well.

Und das Klubsterben geht leider weiter …” —K
While K17 enjoyed a relatively long reign as Berlin’s largest goth/metal club, host to popular parties like Hellectro, Break Your Neck, and the 30+ Alter Sack, it had long since ceased to be “representative” of the scene, if ever it had been. Perhaps ages ago at its original Kadinerstraße location. But who has recollection of those years faded by time? Certainly not I.

I don’t know, they play shitty music. I’ve only been there for concerts.” —Sh
I tried poking around online, but you know how that goes. After a while you realize online club reviews tend to exhibit the same familiar cadence, irrespective of place or genre—“Insert-venue-name was better x-number years ago, but now it’s shit (and yet I still occasionally go there because I haven’t anywhere else or because I obtain personal self-worth through my ability to contrast my perceived glory days with the barren wasteland of the Now).” It becomes a subtle commentary on aging (un)gracefully.

In this, “Kasi” patrons are no exception, and thus it’s difficult to pinpoint with any real accuracy where things began their slide into mournful oblivion. But, you know, at risk of sounding like a sour old Qype reviewer myself, things were better even 2 ½ years ago.

So in that sense, I could feel this coming. Over this past winter my partner and I had found ourselves staying in more often than going out, and when we did go out, it seemed that there were less and less people—though still impressively more than similar San Fran haunts where dance floors notoriously ghosted out after 1:00 when everyone had to scramble to catch the last train. The K17 crowd persisted just enough to leave us drunkenly fumbling at our memories. Did things only seem diminished now? Were we simply more settled and jaded now than years ago, newly arrived in Berlin, when the place was a still wondrous and new discovery to us?

Maybe it’s an off night,” I’d comment to my partner. But it seemed that more and more often they were having off nights.

I used to love that club, and have just watched it crumble away … On the other hand, it may be, of course, that I’ve simply gotten old and don’t adapt well to change.” —A
With this closure, the Berlin Goth and Metal scene suffers an undeniable loss. And me too, if I'm totally honest. Even though I've only spoken haltingly of my fondness for stompy gothic clubnights. Even though I've mostly only kept K17 my guilty, half-embarrassed secret. Even though I’m quite aware of the club's shortcomings—and there are/were many. So many.

An unrelated chat with a young Berliner on the subject of favorite clubs actually helped me reframe the “shame” of this. He explained that there are two orders of favorites:

There's your Favorite (big Favorite): the club with the best music, the best sound, the best crowd, the best feels. You could say Berghain here without sounding too pretentious. It's the club you'd recommend to friends, to strangers, whoever, because the quality of the experience will speak for itself.

But then you also have your little favorite: your comfortable favorite, the club you end up going to the most, but you maybe keep it to yourself, because you're not sure your pals will get its appeal. Maybe you're not quite sure you get its appeal. It's not the hippest or the sexiest, and yet you keep going back, because it's easy, it's convenient, you know what to expect there, you know you’ll get in with no drama, and you usually have a decent time of it.

"For me, my favorite would be the Suicide," my friend said, meaning Suicide Circus, the popular tourist club on Revaler Straße, which seemed a weird favorite for someone born and raised in Berlin and whose childhood friends had been all but driven from the neighborhood by the international influx of party tourism.

I started to raise an eyebrow, except I suddenly knew exactly what he meant. And for me, that convenient favorite was K17—had been, anyway. The acceptance of that fact could only be short-lived, because news of its pending closure arrived soon after.

Say it’s not true! Whatever, fuck Capitalism! That club is mega, and I’ve had some of my most fantastic experiences there.” —D
Suddenly I’m forced now to ponder, for the first time in a handful of cities, the question—Now where am I supposed go to get my goth on? Where will I find you now, my Electro, my EBM, my Industrial, my Darkwave? Or do I accept it gracefully that perhaps I too have been forced to age out of fishnets and crunchy synths and that the world has moved on to a place without stark drum machines, aggressively arpeggiated basslines and dirge-like distortion choruses?

Or dare I ask the broader question, is this just one more step in a progression which is the further homogenization of the Berlin club scene?

Damn! I guess we're just gonna have to get used to minimal techno and hipsters ...” —N
Not that there's anything wrong with minimal techno and hipsters, but variety is, after all, the spice of life. Or was. Such is the state of things.

For one last chance to bid K17 adieu (or to see what the fuss was about in the first place) drop by their Sunday night Abschiedsparty on May 15th—and drink a Mexikaner in a dark corner for me.

By Eileen Carelock 
Images © Eileen Carelock 
Eileen is a Berlin-based freelancer and tentative explorer of a tiny segment of the human experience. She ends up hanging out with her dog a lot; she also writes things.

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