Review: Sisyphos Festival, 18.05.2011

Techno Deluge. At Sisyphos there is plenty to look at; fleshy drapes; giant glittering baubles; trellis towers; motion-sensitive light sprays in the halls.

The first room that I blunder into is silky saloon bar full of dancing lights and wafting ribbons. Beneath the deco, I see the black ribs of a warehouse jutting in the dark like the backstage area of a theatrical set.

Later, my friends and I search out a spot nearer to the techno that's booming down the hall.  We find a second room where our personal sphere is reduced to a crawl-space. The unyielding mass of people drawn towards its sweaty beat turn this cavern into a human labyrinth.  Normally that's the sort of vibe we go in for... but it feels off in here, somehow.

We're pushed back and forward through the cavern by waves of newcomers who beat paths through and around us, trying to get wherever we are going, but before we get there.  Before we even think about getting there. The rat race is the only race there will ever be so why pretend otherwise, even here?

I try to go with the flow and end up being pressed into a dead end corner of the room. Separated from friends, resigned to just keeping out of everybody's way.  My eyes adjust and as they do, the walls become more solid behind the gaudy lights. The scenery sets like cement and the ethereal decor takes on a weighty permanence. Special effects aside, this is just like any other place in the city; the Ku'damm on a Saturday, or a train station maybe...

In clubs like this is hard to remember that, once upon a time, dancing in a packed room full of strangers wasn't all about getting someplace, it was about being there. That techno parties were a different universe, with a different set of rules, not just a darker, less restrictive version of the dog-eat-dog reality outside.

Plenty of people here who are ten, fifteen years younger than me are wearing H&M 'rave revival' fashion without the faintest trace of a smile on their faces, convinced that the look captures the spirit for them adequately, so they don't have to make the effort.  And unlearning boundaries does take an actual effort... it's uncomfortable... why waste time with that when you can just push someone else out of your way - keep everything as it is?

Because it only works as long as you keep pushing, that's why. And eventually, someone bigger comes along and pushes you back: a property investor, maybe, or a draconian government, and you lose it all to the same mentality you helped create.

Hard to remember that the first generation of ravers actually enjoyed being squished up against total strangers, too. They didn't fight the crush - first they embraced it, and then they institutionalized it in the form of the clubs like Sisyphos. The fact that the next generation lashes out against that same feeling is proof that the change that first generation made didn't take.  It was destroyed, from within or without -what answer you receive depends on who you're asking.  The fact that the only smiley faces in this room are on a disposable, 5 Euro t-shirt made in a sweat shop seems like a kind of testament to that fact.  

And a techno party that can't generate real empathy is like a parent that can't have kids.  The bloodline is completely broken between one incarnation and the next.


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