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 haphazard path through the rambling subterranean hallways, slaloming 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 arts; they even had a separate room for bands - almost unheard of in Berlin back then. The techno was hard as nails and the guestlist guy was flexible.

I remember being less-than-enamoured by the smallish venue and the queue 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 hangups and almost all of your clothes - is almost mandatory, these days. And the laissez-faire intimacy of all those bared souls commingling fosters a 'we-are-all-one' vibe that is rare at these kinds of events. 

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 the set: 

Energy bared, stripped-down, leather-strapped, pulsating outward 
with each jab and thrust 
full of heartfelt yearning. 
Stabs & splinters of sound flicker outward to 8ternity, scattering sparks across the Universe.
Each tendon tensed, throttled force propels; hands grapple with the snares.
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: euphoric. Well, I guess I should have expected something extra-special when the woman who wrote a tune called "Gegen" is playing, shouldn't I?

Gegen 8ternity was hot-hot-hot affair that, although fast enough to be a quickie, still maintained that necessary level of sentiment and experimentation that has saved it from ever devolving into gratuitousness. Let's hope it stays that sensual and transformative for the next 8 years... no matter how many boundaries it outgrows or breaks. 


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