Well, it’s official: viral online jokes about Berghain, Berlin’s club venue, occur with the same frequency as its Klubnacht. But this deserves some mention, in that it says perhaps less about Berghain as it does about Berlin’s culture of obsessive-compulsive technologists. Because this throwaway joke about getting into the club is actually a pretty impressive interactive video game.

First, there’s a built-in cinematic, with the role of the bouncer played by one of the communication designer who helped build this. (Before you get snarky about this not being the “real” Sven, yes, this guy’s name is Sven, too.)

Then, there’s the trainer functionality. Facial recognition interprets your body language and expression – just to make sure you’re not having a good time. (What, you think you’re going to a party?) Two, speech recognition and language processing evaluates your answers. (Actually, I’ve no idea how it listens to the questions, but it at least got my ‘yes’ and ‘no’ correct.)

One of the things that marvels me about Berghain is that, while all around the world people are inviting their residents and copying cosmetic features of the experience (from black dress to Funktion One sound to even the beer and mate), no one has picked up on Berghain’s social media strategy, which is mostly to avoid social media and remove photos, mentions, and logos. That of course protects the privacy of partygoers (not to mention the ability to dance without having cell phones in your face), and it protects the brand. But the challenge of the 21st century is really now figuring out how to do promotion without doing promotion. There’s now so much quantity that adding quantity doesn’t help, so removing content is everything. And of course, this app is the latest example of how that can get people talking about you.

Someday, people will be teaching social media people how to learn from this ex… augh, that sounds terrible. I hope I don’t have to listen to that. But you know I’m probably still right.

Anyway, all of that is to say, Berghain forced the removal of the logo, and that’s worth mentioning because I adore the pixel-y version they made to replace it:


I like it more than the real logo. Someone get a warehouse and start an all 8-bit or less techno party, please.

And I will meanwhile contemplate the existential angst of this image:


Indeed. Are you?

Go play with Google Chrome.


The creators: Fabian Burghardt and Vinzenz Aubry and don’t think I didn’t see you coding in a dark room. Mmm… JavaScript fetish.

Updated: been there, done that!

a hipster bar from Max Dovey on Vimeo.

A similar idea – without the Berghain narrative – is seen in the piece “A Hipster Bar” by Max Dovey from last year.

A hipster bar uses image recognition software to enforce a strict door policy that only admits people that look hipster enough. The doors for this bar will only open if you are at least 20% hipster, making it the world’s first automated hipster bar. The term hipster is used loosely to describe a sub-culture of people who attempt to keep up to date with the latest trend and remain ‘hip’. By sourcing thousands of images of hipsters (mainly from Instagram). Max Dovey, creator of the Hipster Bar has attempted to train an algorithm to recognize the visual characteristics of a hipster.

More: http://v2.nl/archive/works/a-hipster-bar

  • nothingnatural

    Coming up in the Midwest US rave scene of the 90s (where, yes, there were map points and obstacles… but they always led to shitty warehouses and barns in the middle of nowhere), the exclusive club life thing has always seemed preposterous to me. I’m sure the reverse is true to anyone who came up in Berlin or NYC or whatever. (“Your favorite event was playing to twelve people in a moldy basement on Milwaukee’s Brady Street?”)

    That said, I get the anti-promotion thing, the enforced minimalism. The legend sells better than the reality ever could, presumably. Berghain becomes a holy quest in the club world and the punters eat it up because we imagine there’s something worth all the effort waiting inside. But surely there are a hundred other events at the clubs of Berlin on any given week; is this so special?

    Sigh. All of which is to say: Sven did not let me in, not one of the twenty times I tried.

  • fgvyti

    berghain = K-mart

  • Clea Rup

    How cool and trendy, software making decisions for us! *sigh*