Animaux | UK

Queen of Panorama Bar – Margaret Dygas at Sorgente Sonora (MILAN)

Sep
17

As Milan is rapidly cooling down in anticipation of one of its notoriously rainy autumns, Margaret Dygas and her unique Panorama vibes inaugurate Sorgente Sonora’s 2015/2016 clubbing season at Tunnel Club, Milan.

Half a mile down Stazione Centrale’s western side, squeezed between graffiti plastered arches, Tunnel Club proved to be an unusual yet striking venue for a memorable night. Located along the border where Milan’s classy centre surrenders to it’s post-industrial outskirts, Tunnel Club provided a superb setting for Dygas’ elegant yet sometime bitter sound. The arched ceiling, dominated by a nostalgic disco ball, conveyed the cozy and intimate feeling that so deeply pervaded the night. The glittering ceiling exemplified Tunnel Club’s standing as a tiny jewel encrusted in the grizzling edge of Milan’s city centre.

Lost in the plumy haze of cigarette smoke, the crowd extended its way back from the stage to the doors. Packed with youths excited with the return of an ever richer Milanese clubbing scene, the night was truly evidence of the international reach that techno has recently achieved. What was a dying venue until the mid 2000s has reinvented itself as the gem described above, partly thanks to a genre that attracts so many young raving eyes on a grey mid-September night. And Margaret Dygas, true to the importance of her name in these circles, proved to be a formidable opening act for what should be a juicy season.

Picking up from the deep-housey tail end of Matteo Costa’s set, Ms. Dygas delves into the minimal sound that so uniquely characterises her. Throughout the night, only briefly and occasionally polluted by spontaneous choruses chanting ‘Margaret! Margaret!’, her set covered the most disparate sounds that her beloved Berlinese techno scene has to offer. Gradually taking off from the gentle beats she inherited from Costa, Dygas’ whipping snares hypnotically led the crowd to frenzy before softly landing on a more subsided beat, only to stoke the jumping audience back into hysteria.

Regularly dipping below the decks only to reappear moments after with the shadow of a record in her hand and a satisfied smile on her face, Maggie truly did offer the enthusiastic crowd an encyclopaedia of sounds. The set opened with Dygas’ characteristic crackling snappy sounds and effortlessly moved to darker territory as the set acquired shape. At the crack of dawn, Dygas put an end to her spell with dark voluptuous beats, releasing the captive crowd, and sending everyone off with memories of a set that one may only hope to hear in the most respectable Berlinese clubs.

As Dygas bid her farewells, the club regurgitated the fast dispersing crowd onto the pallid, deserted street. As sparse rays crack through anonymous grey clouds, I wind my way through a ravishing Milan flicking through fond memories of the night. Margaret, thank you!

We Visit Berghain – The Lockean Utopia

Jul
10

From the distance, illuminated by a dim Berliner dawn, Berghain looks like a run down high-security mental ward — home to your worst, darkest nightmares. The queue winds its way to the door, dozens piously wait to be allowed into the Techno cathedral. Provided you abide by the strict yet somewhat arbitrary dress-code, conceal all happiness behind a veiled expression of disillusioned boredom, and never pull your phone out of your pocket, the doors of Berghain might open for you. Berghain will defy all of your expectations, challenge the very core of your raver-self and spit you out a different person.

Eardrums start to thump as I step through the door followed by dozens of envious eyeballs. After being given the one instruction from security to “go and enjoy yourself!”, I find myself propelled in an immense hall dominated by the towering statue of a man guzzling away through a funnel. The scratchy concrete walls are lined with sofas dotted with buzzing clubbers of all ages; a staircase winds its way around the statue, leading to the dance floor: I’m in Berghain.

Columns of speakers stacked meters high sustain the drug-fuelled frenzy that seems to have captured every fibre of the crowd and the dark building. Unimaginably tall and painted black, church-like windows guarantee perfect darkness from Saturday night to Monday morning. I am greeted – if one can call that a greeting – by an exceptionally heavy set kindly provided by Mr. Giorgio Gigli, venerated by the pulsing black mob hungrily feeding off every sound discharged upon them. The industrial, almost robotic, beats absorb the crowd into the music, coming together as one organic being – I never thought techno, or any other genre for that matter, was capable of such a thing.

Untangling myself from the hypnotic pulse of Berghain, I make my way to find some solace and head towards the Panorama Bar. More pleasing to the eye and lighter on the eardrums, the Panorama Bar breathes upbeat, housey vibes relieving clubbers from the scorching industrial inferno next-door. For the first time in hours, I am reminded that the outside world still exists as sunlight bathes the lounge-like room. Eventually, as my vision readjusts to the unexpected sunbeams, I notice the entrance to an odd corridor running parallel the dance floor. It turns out, the mysterious corridor is in fact a long succession of cramped sex-booths only separated from the dance floor by scruffy curtains. I’d like to say it came as a shock, but it didn’t.

Somewhat revitalised, I return to Berghain as the dance floor is being commandeered by Lory D’s vigorous techno as the clubbers ranks swell. Despite having already formed an idea of the Berghain crew, the next few hours would deeply challenge my understanding of ‘weird’. Sometime between Lory D’s and STERAC’s set, I witness a truly Berghain-esque scene. Only a couple of meters away from me, a middle-aged man, completely naked, is walked around on a leash by what could only be described as Santa Claus wearing nothing but some leather underwear. Shocked at first, I am surprised by the apathy of the crowd towards the scene. No one could care less. Confused, I plunge again into the frenetic crowd.

With my flight back to the UK only a couple of hours away, we make our way towards the exit. I leave Berghain walking past a young man dripping in sweat, dancing as if under the grips of a seizure, and completely oblivious to anything around him. Beyond the doors, a cold Berliner morning awaits me.

Over the next few days, thinking back to my weekend in Berlin, I think I cracked the enigma of Berghain. I think I might have managed to understand the core values that underpin “the church”. To me, Berghain is the ultimate expression of libertarianism. The club ignores social conventions, and only abides by the rule of tolerance: as long as you do not bother anyone, you are literally allowed to do anything and everything. Berghain understands and accepts the uniqueness and individuality of each one of us, and offers relief to the oppression of the aspects of ourselves that cannot transpire to the public. To me, Berghain is a Lockean utopia.