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(Credit: Claudio Schwarz)

Music

Berlin’s techno scene calls for Unesco heritage status

Berlin’s techno scene has opened up the latest front in the battle against gentrification. Some of Berlin’s best-loved techno DJs are lobbying for a protected heritage status from Unesco in the fears of being shut down in favour of gentrifying forces. 

Europe’s hotspot for techno, Berlin has long been at the forefront of pioneering electronic music and has some of the most iconic nightclubs in the world. Now, however, DJs fear that the battles against Covid and gentrification might be the final nail in the coffin. 

A new campaign led by legendary DJ Dr Motte is calling for the “intangible cultural heritage” status from Unesco. Motte told DJ Mag: “It would mean that the government and authorities have to help the culture continue”. 

Explaining his thought process, he said: “It would mean easier access to money from the state for support… if we have that status, we could support clubs with lower taxes, and it could affect building and trading laws”.

Criteria for being awarded the status means providing a “safeguarding roadmap”. This means designing a full-proof plan to support the cultural heritage of the scene, outlining what steps will be taken to protect it. 

Another respected DJ who has shown his support for the move is Andrew Oldham, a Detroit native. “Unesco protection would go a long way towards maintaining that old spirit,” he told the Observer. “Legacy venues like Tresor and Berghain for example would be protected as cultural landmarks”.

The group of DJs are hoping that the status would also protect the Berlin nightclub scene by creating a broader discussion about their cultural impact. It is perhaps the most uncertain time the Berlin nightclub scene has faced since it first flourished in the ’80s, so it’s likely to be an extended campaign. 

With Europe and much of the world facing rocketing Covid rates and the new variant Omicron, last week Berlin’s authorities banned dancing at nightclubs. Met with understandable furore, the decision will have a considerable impact on the nightclubs who are struggling to survive in the age of the pandemic anyway.

Watch the scene’s official Unesco application video below.