Friday, August 26, 2005

Sommerloch, Part 7

I walked down to Potsdamer Platz today, since it was nice and warm, and bought myself a dozen bagels at Salomon Bagels, not because they're really all that good, but because I chipped one of my false teeth on some Berlin bread the other morning and I'm tired of that. Plus, a little variety's always good. As I got to the corner of Leipziger Str. and Wilhelmstr., I saw a welter of construction going on, and noticed yet another hole in the ground. This one, though, was where Tresor had stood.

I missed most of the dance mania of the immediate post-Wall years, mostly because I was too old. Just over 40 was old enough to get barred by the huge Turkish guards at E-Werk or Tresor, and it was only when I was on the guest-list, because Mark Reeder of MFS Records had put me on the list to see Paul van Dyk, who was his biggest star, although hardly the star he is today, that I got in. Because of dance politics, those shows were mostly at Tresor.

Like E-Werk diagonally across the street, Tresor was as much about the space it was in as about the music that was played there. E-Werk was a huge, disused electric generation station with some of its machinery still in place. Tresor, on the other hand, was a modest door in the side of a building which led to two rooms, a small one upstairs and a much larger one downstairs. It had been either a bank or a department store -- I've heard both stories, although I lean towards the department store one -- before the war, and had been bombed to the ground because the building across the street, which now houses some German federal agency or other, had been the Luftwaffe headquarters. As with most bombed buildings, the worst of the rubble was cleared away by the East Germans and the lot was left empty. When, after the Wall opened, brave souls began investigating this former government district around Potsdamer Platz, they chanced on this space with the big iron doors and the room with the many, many cubby-holes (you can see this in the image at the top of the Tresor website), they squatted it, and, eventually, became legal tenants.

The E-Werk crowd became the organizers of the Love Parade. Dmitri at Tresor had the idea for a label, and today there are tons of signature Berlin hard-techno records out on the club's imprint, distributed through Mute in London. Tresor has become a moveable feast, and I understand Dmitri has signed on to renting another industrial space, this one -- ironically -- another electric generating station. I know some of the folks involved in this project, so I'll let you know if/when something develops there, but in the meantime, I found myself heaving a big nostalgic sigh as I watched the bricks and pieces of twisted metal being scooped up by the machines digging the foundation for something that's going to be known as Leipziger 4, yet another development of new office space and trendy shopping which will remain vacant for years. Tresor had passed its sell-by date anyway, being mostly an attraction for what passes here for B&Ts (bridge-and-tunnel people), kids from the Brandenburg hinterlands who came in to gape at each other, take too much E, and dance all night.


For Berliners Only: Yesterday, a friend alerted me to the coming of BerlinPages, a new website and virtual community for Berliners. I think it's a good idea, although there isn't much up there yet, and, like any virtual community, it could benefit from an infusion of intelligent people, and since we all know that's the only kind of people who read this blog, you might think of going over there to check it out. This is very much like something I had hoped to do long ago with the Berlin Information Group, whose website hasn't changed in years, and which, I'm told, is for sale. If you look at it, you can see why; the greedy bastards who maneuvered me out of the organization I had helped build never did figure out how to get rich on the Internet, and it's pretty obvious that they never had a clue.


Speaking of virtual communities and sites for sale, The Well, the world's oldest online community, is currently for sale, as its current owner, Salon, is currently losing weight in an attempt to become profitable.

I keep telling my fellow expats what a great deal The Well is, what a great way to keep up with world events, learn about the cyberscape from the very people who invented it, and converse with some of the smartest people in the world. Its Europe conference is worth it alone, and I find the Media and Music conferences also very worthwhile. It's worth ten bucks a month, which is what it costs (and which serves to keep out some of the idiots who latch on to things like Orkut), and I think it'd be worth whatever the current asking price is for the right buyer, too. Not that I know the asking price or the right buyer.

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