Spacey sounds and celebratory spaces: Women in Berlin

Berlin has long been considered the techno capital of the world, with the revered Berghain a Mecca for club-goers across the globe. But unlike the male-dominated global electronic scene, Berghain’s techno subculture is a space of inclusivity and intersectionality where women lead the way.

Born out of a gay kink night called ‘Snax’ and evolved out of a desire for diversity and sexuality, Berghain has been a breeding ground for women DJs to flourish since it opened its doors in 2004. The club attracted those who didn’t see representation elsewhere and it quickly became an innately celebratory space of equality and individuality. Sowing the seeds for it to become a place where women producers are empowered and visible.

Berghain’s notorious no-camera policy also contributes to its long-held reputation as a safe space for women and the LGBTQ+ community.

The removal of the camera lens signifying the absence of the outer world’s gaze, the outer world’s judgement, the outer world’s sexism.

Those who are granted access through the club’s famed doors are only those who consent to a complete immersion in this techno-fuelled, hedonistic space – nothing matters apart from the music. 

Berghain’s influence extends beyond Berlin, its own gravitational pull for women around the world. Arizona-raised Avalon Emerson moved to the German capital in 2014 and is now a regular across all floors of the esteemed club, while Austria-raised Cassy and Dutch Steffi both moved to the city and became early residents at its house space, the Panorama Bar.

Legendary Russian DJ and producer Nina Kraviz regularly plays Berghain, and when South Korean-born Peggy Gou made her move to Berlin she would spend every weekend within the club’s hallowed walls, before switching dancefloor for decks and becoming the first female of Korean descent to play there.

JakoJako is one of the latest women DJs to emerge from Berghain’s techno subculture, making her mark with the old school sounds of modular synthesis. The spacey melodies of her newly-released ‘Lux’ EP continue the intuitive trajectory of woman to the forefront of Berlin’s ever-exciting techno scene.

Signed to record label Leisure System, residency-holders at Berghain, JakoJako’s musical output at once electrifies and sedates: the throbbing beats of ‘Viridus’ and ‘Eos’ transmitting the sweaty, exhilarating space of the dancefloor; while ‘Sublividus’ and ‘Ochros’ cascade a serene panorama of sound to soothe and tranquilise.

The number of women on the city’s techno scene is only set to grow, as an increasing number of women-led booking agencies, community groups, projects and collectives based in the city continue to amplify female talent.

Open and queer platform Creamcake regularly holds DJ workshops and diversity-focused panel discussions, while queer femme / non-binary collective Room 4 Resistance run intersectional raves, panel discussions and workshops to promote women, gender queers, non-binary, trans, inter, black and POC artists to ‘explore the political dimensions of the dance floor and to create bridges between different communities.’ 

Social media has helped put control back into the hands of the artist

Women are steadily gaining a greater platform through these groups and as gatekeepers of the scene. Not only do publications like Mixmag, Pitchfork and Fader now regularly feature women DJs and producers, social media has helped put control back into the hands of the artist.

Melissa Taylor, who founded Tailored Communications, a PR firm which represents many prominent women in electronic music, was quoted in the New York Times as saying:

“A lot of women have been able to control their image better and gain visibility without relying on these male media gatekeepers

Berghain was built on the foundations of inclusivity and equality. As burgeoning female talent continues to make waves and with increasing opportunities created by local collectives, women look set to rule the scene.

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