Towing the Party Line II: Tag des Illegalen OpenAirs

Illegal open air party under Warschauer Bruecke

With all the hype about Zug der Liebe last weekend, I almost forgot that there's another dose of musical mischief happening this weekend.  A collective of open air party sound systems in the capital has decided to declare this Saturday August 1st 'Illegal Open Airs Day'.

Illegal open air parties are a vestige of that Berlin free party tradition that started with free techno raves in the early 1990s.   The music has changed over the years, from techno to tech-house, funk, hip hop and sometimes even occasional live acts.  Berline's free open air parties aren't usually very big, loud or obnoxious- or easy to find - but they have always been incredibly popular.  Some of the more intrepid tourists seem to come here just to track them down.  But in the last couple of years, the police became so adept at shutting them down that most of the sound systems have stopped bothering organizing them altogether.

Never mind that they attract hundreds of people and cause few or no problems; all it takes is one or two bitter old people to stumble upon an isolated openair party site and call the cops and complain that they are being forced to stare at dozens of young people, who are having more fun than they ever got to have and bang - the party's over.

The cops in Berlin are generally good about giving the sound system time to wind down and pack up, but nonetheless, its obvious they're not giving the free party scene an inch.  In a city with so much space, the hardline anti-party approach reveals itself for what it really is: a ritualized act of restriction to keep everybody towing the line, and imposing a norm of asking for permission for any action, however harmless and well-intentioned it may be

As the organizers of this weekend's Illegal Open Airs Day say on their page: "We do not understand why we can't use a public space (yes, it  belongs to us all) to celebrate our love for electronic music and open-air dance culture".  If you agree, get down there this weekend... wherever 'there' may be!

"We have piped unto you ever since the first of May, the most pleasant tune of the Agreement of the People, but you have not danced up so roundly as so sprightly a tune deserves..." 

The Levellers c. 1648

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Berlin, Germany
...is NOT a fashion blogger! I write about underground music, activism, social media rights. Other publications that I have written for: OpenDemocracy, Urban Challenger, Siegesaeule, Alternative Berlin and Sensanostra.