Review: Gegen 8ternity @ KitKat Club


Gegen 8ternity flyer. (Artwork copyright: Gegen Berlin)

Saturday January 5th, 2:00 a.m.

"They have new rooms now, down in the basement," says my wide-eyed friend Rene in a husky voice, before taking me by the hand and leading me down the steps into KitKat's apparently infinite cellar. (My balance is a bit off, it must be whatever I drank earlier).

We trace a wavy path through the rambling subterranean hallways, around translucent pennants that hang on alternating sides of the hall, printed with tasteful nudes doing tasteless things, undulating fluidly in the body temperature air. 

The hall opens out into a bar, which opens out into a fakeshift hospital ward. We pass doubled-over bodies getting whipped & spanked; protruding buttocks scarred with lashes and splattered with red wax. There are hips rolling on gurneys, glistening bald heads and tossing manes, camp laughter and almost inaudible moans.

And then that room opens on to Gegentanz: a wide, square space with lofty ceilings and sweaty stalwart DJ Warbear at the helm. He plays almost everything that I can remember dancing to circa 1998-2002... and just like always, I dance. We spend what seems like half the night in there spinning in circles, dizzied by the heat... and whatever else was in that drink.

Back in March 2011, when I reviewed Gegen's second birthday, I can remember being impressed by their dedication to experimental music and arts. They even had a separate room for bands - almost unheard of in Berlin's techno scene, back then. The techno was hard as nails but the guest list guy was flexible, making it easy for me to yield to the slow-motion flow of people squeezing into MIKZ.

I remember being less-than-enamoured by the smallish venue and the queues stuffed with impatient people. Gegen has grown exponentially since then, changing venues and adding rooms but it still gets packed. Packed. Thankfully, leaving your impatience behind - as well as your hang-ups and almost all of your clothes - has become a reflex for all those who come to Gegen, these days. They're exhibitionist but also comfortable in their own skin… a mix that's harder to find than you might think, in an image-conscious but steamy club scene like Berlin's. The laissez-faire intimacy of all these bared souls swishing unobtrusively past one another fosters a 'we-are-all-one' vibe that is also rare at the most hyped techno events. But there is no slacking off in this line-up, which includes (among others) resident DJ Warbear and Paula Temple.


Saturday January 5th, 2:00 a.m.

Back in March 2011, when I reviewed Gegen's second birthday, I can remember being impressed by their dedication to experimental music and arts. They even had a separate room for bands - almost unheard of in Berlin's techno scene, back then. The techno was hard as nails but the guest list guy was flexible, making it easy for me to yield to the slow-motion flow of people squeezing in.

I remember being less-than-enamoured by the smallish venue and the queues stuffed with impatient people. Gegen has grown exponentially since then, changing venues and adding rooms but it still gets packed. Packed. Thankfully, leaving your impatience behind - as well as your hang-ups and almost all your clothes - has become a reflex for all those in the know at Gegen, these days. They're exhibitionist but also comfortable in their own skin… a mix that's harder to find than you might think, in an image-conscious but steamy club scene like Berlin's. The laissez-faire intimacy of all these bared souls swishing easily past one another fosters a 'we-are-all-one' vibe that is rare at the most hyped techno events. But there is no slacking off in this line-up, which includes (among others) resident DJ Warbear and Paula Temple.

Saturday January 5th, 2:00 a.m. 5:15 a.m.:

We move upstairs to dance to Paula Temple in the main room. She reduces me to making up poetry in my head to describe the atmosphere during her set:

Energy bared, stripped-down, leather-strapped, pulsating outward
with each jab and thrust
full of heartfelt yearning.
Stabs & splinters of sound flicker outward, scattering sparks across 8ternity.
 
Each tendon tensed; bodies grapple ecstatically.
Shaking,
straining,
arched.
Teeth bared, lips moist with awe
flesh ringed around the beats and flexed,

Hear here:
Rapture's been corralled
and coaxed into a harness,
to be endlessly, deeply kissed.

Everywhere I look, I see fevered eyes and people straining to dance in tight spaces like they're about to explode out of their skin. They're pent up but stress-free and euphoric. Well, I guess I should have expected an extra-special vibe from the DJ who wrote the tune called "Gegen", shouldn't I?


Gegen 8ternity was hot-hot-hot affair that sustained that balance between sentiment and savagery, much the same way that it has at every party in the past 8 years. Freed by its admission that we are all bound in contradictions, this is one event that has never devolved into the vanity of unchanging routine. Let's hope that it stays as fresh and transformative as this for the next 8 years... no matter how many boundaries it outgrows, bends or breaks. 


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