In the era of fake news and big data for corporations, there’s an obvious antidote: getting actual data for yourself.

So, it’s a given that too many words have been spilt over Berlin’s Berghain. But in trying to portray the club’s hype or mystique, I notice that there’s not often much discussion of its consistency. And to understand how techno and in a broader sense electronic music and the various fashions about it are projected into the world, understanding that consistency is key. If a club is repeatedly pushing out long queues every Saturday and Sunday night (yes, Sunday), and if that is having the influence that Berghain does on bookings elsewhere, on musical aesthetics, and even on how people dress, then part of what you’re actually describing is consistency. These are all measures of repetition.

So, what are the actual numbers? Musician and developer Olle Holmberg aka Moon Wheel is a geek and coder as well as a musician. So, curiosity evidently led him to write a JavaScript app to crawl Berghain’s Website – from late 2009 to present.

You can check out that Google Doc. And of course someone could write a better script – or even try to do other analyses on other clubs.
Berghain — all sets 2009-2017 (data from berghain.de events pages) [berghain.de]

This isn’t revealing any secrets in the club. Quite the contrary: it’s taking public-facing information, and separating the reality from people’s perception.

Now, I’m not one to just say “hey, let’s post a story on Berghain to see if it works as clickbait.” I actually find the results interesting. One thing that particularly struck me about Berghain regulars was their tendency to swoon “oh my God, the lineup this weekend is amazing” – then go on to describe the residents playing on the program.

More analysis will require more work, but we can at least pull up the artists who play most often (and they do so by such a large margin that even minor bugs in the crawling/scripting won’t make so much difference).

The top 25 listings in the Berghain program (from end of 2009, with some minor glitches possible as the program is crawled as plain text):

1. Boris 99
2. Sammy Dee 88
3. Norman Nodge 86
4. Zip 85g
5. Marcel Dettmann 80
6. Fiedel 76
7. Ben Klock 75
8. nd_baumecker 73
9. Marcel Fengler 71
10. Len Faki 70
11. Steffi 68
12. Ryan Elliott 65
13. Tama Sumo 63
14. Nick Höppner 62
15. Margaret Dygas 58
16. Soundstream 49
17. Virginia 49
18. Answer Code Request 45
19. Dinky 42
20. Gerd Janson 41
21. Efdemin 40
22. Function 38
23. Kobosil 37
24. DVS1 35
25. Oliver Deutschmann 35

Major disclaimer: this is incomplete data. The opening years of the club are missing. Artists wanting to share their anniversary dates or more complete data or stories, of course, you’re welcome to.

Second major disclaimer: This is listing data, not booking data. Ostgut has more accurate information, in that they’ll have information on who actually played (for instance, when someone jumps in, which happens a lot), unlisted guests, and the liking.

Third major disclaimer:

Because of those issues, in fact, the ranking above is almost certainly incorrect, though the names that appear are still the correct names. (nd_baumecker most likely played more than Boris, for instance.)

There’s still some information, though – if it’s not a totally complete snapshot, it’s still a big snapshot. Olle tells CDM that at least one or two people who have seen the numbers have already expressed interest in doing analysis on gender and measures of diversity.

I can at least eyeball these 25. In case you’re wondering, five out of those top twenty five are female, so we’re far from any gender parity even in one of the world’s more progressive big venues. (20% is well above the going average, though, and it’s relevant that women are part of what define Berghain’s sound via these residencies.) The top of the list is also overwhelmingly white, although it’s also fairly German. (That says something about residents versus guests, of course – and about who is settling into Berlin for the long term. It’s not exclusively German. Dinky is from Santiago, Chile. DVS1 was born in Leningrad, USSR, but grew up in the USA. Boris cut his teeth in the scene with none other than Larry Levan in New York’s Paradise Garage.)

They’re also all there for a reason. The reason for the German representation is also a story about how the music scene in the country has grown up since the 90s, with many of these residents having made their mark in the labels and parties that helped define the scene since the fall of the Wall, whether Sammy Dee and the Perlon label or Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann and the homegrown Ostgut label. These artists are German, but they tend to come from smaller towns in both east and west parts of the country.

Speaking of consistency and longevity and day jobs, Norman Nodge is even a lawyer.

So if there’s nothing surprising here, what is here is a metric of what is successfully unsurprising. (That also applies to the value many of these names have in booking. See also the Ostgut booking operation, who hilariously warn that they won’t offer table reservations. That’s hilarious because I’m sure someone is regularly writing and asking. I wonder where people imagine the tables are.)

If you scroll through the raw data, you’ll see more of the untold story of Berghain as the larger complex of event spaces and programs. As the Website publishes not only the club’s best-known too floors, Panorama and the titular Berghain, but also Laboratory, Halle am Berghain, and Kantine am Berghain (the former canteen of the power station), including various special events, you’ll get all sorts of names. (Mine even pops up a couple of times through those weird loopholes, without even me having involved North Korean hackers.) In recent weeks, that also includes a more leftfield program at the club’s new Säule space.

But there’s a deeper message, and it’s one about consistency and repetition. Part of what allows us to get your attention in the press is to try to pass off something as new. But behind the scenes, the other thing that press, bookers, publicists, clubs are all doing is actually about priming you to see certain ideas and certain people as important. And that’s in fact about repetition – reinforcing name recognition and making ideas.

So there’s something to that Sunday ritual. For better or for worse, if you look at the top names here, these are really the foundation of this Berghain effect.

This is, of course, just one club, even if a vital one. I think while numbers don’t tell a whole story, it’s great to have some actual data and do some real research. (And the data can be thought of as a first step, not a last.) So I hope, as with female:pressure‘s analysis of gender on festival lineups, we continue to gather data and use more than just our own limited perception to understand music scenes.

Google Spreadsheet

Oh yeah, and if anyone wants to crowd-source fitness tracker data to see how much you’re dancing, let us know!

Updated: In 2010, the club itself published more accurate statistics.

Of course, this article is completely boring to the resident DJs and anyone working for the club, as they have the numbers.

Berghain also archives their programs – which are uncommon for clubland, filled with art and photos but also extensive curatorial commentary and even sometimes poetry and other tidbits.

On the 11th December 2010, they shared some of their own (far more accurate) in-house stats – at which point the total events (from DJs to concerts) had already numbered a whopping 4774.

http://berghain.de/media/flyer/pdf/berghain-flyer-2010-12.pdf

Based on those stats, Boris was again the winner – then having played his 101st set.
Marcel Dettmann: 84.
Ben Klock: 80.
Prosumer: 77.
Cassy: 73.

Those numbers also tel you the missing first years are really significant. (If I read them correctly, it also means Berghain is less about the resident frequency than it once was, which would make some sense. But without the actual data set, that’s just a guess.)

Full details from the program (written in the usual, rather charming way, so I’ll include it for German speakers):

Wie uns unser Inhouse- Statistiker mitteilt, gab es bis einschließlich dem 11. Dezember insgesamt 4774 Auftritte im ganzen Gebäude, einschließlich aller DJ-Gigs, Live-Acts und Konzerte. Soweit die allgemeine Auswertung, aber kommen wir zum heutigen Abend. Konkurrenzloser Spitzenreiter aller zu unserem Geburtstag spielenden DJs (und wir nehmen an, auch insgesamt) ist Boris. Er spielt heute sein 101. Set. Und zwar unten. Tataaa! Ihm dicht auf den Fersen sind Marcel Dettmann mit 84 und Ben Klock mit 80 Kanzelbesuchen. Gewissermaßen schon auf der Überholspur spielen die beiden heute ein back2back Set in der Panorama Bar. Prosumer, ebenfalls oben, kommt auf 77 Sets, Cassy auf 73. Jetzt rattern die Zahlen steil nach unten. Für sein erst 16. Set kehrt Disko zurück. Er hat sich aber auch wirklich rar gemacht. Das Fünfte sicher gerade sein lassen wird Robert Hood – und zwar mit einem House-Set in der Panorama Bar, Nummer 6 gibt‘s sogar gleich danach mit einem Techno-Set im Berghain. Die bisherigen Gigs von .tobias, Chez Damier und DVS1 kann man an zwar an zwei Händen abzählen, aber spätestens hier merkt nun auch der Letzte, dass Statistik nicht zum Feiern taugt. Feste feiern eben, wie sie kommen. So sind Art Department gar zum ersten Mal bei uns und Shed gibt unten die Live-Premiere seines straighten Equalized-Alias

Not directly related to this article, but in 2010 the program was really having a great year! See the poem lovingly tucked into this edition, “Another-Fucking Berghain-Artikel.” That one should make you laugh even if you don’t speak German:

http://berghain.de/media/flyer/pdf/berghain-flyer-2010-06.pdf

Hey, now this article avoided most of those cliches, though – this article does tick one of the boxes simply by existing. Oops. Apologies to Ostgut; I’ll stop procrastinating actually writing about the music. Writers. Sigh.

  • myaccount

    Your comment on gender parity made me smile. In a world where 95% of techno artists are male, having equal sex representation would be a sign a sex discrimination. Meaning that, in the hypothetical case where 50% of that top 25 would be female, you would have statistical ground to make a case that Berghain’s owners know about the sex of the artists, and that it is a major factor in their choice. What we call sex discrimination. As opposed to them listening to the music, knowing nothing about the artist’s gender/identity and discriminating on musical taste/artistic expression alone. Parity != equality.

    • Uh, no.

      Even before we get to the idea that men are suffering from some kind of music-killing reverse discrimination at Berghain, I can tell you with some certainty that Ostgut booking know every single one of these individuals on this list well. The idea that they selected *any* of these artists based on artificial affirmative action is so wrong as to actually be laughable.

      You might as well suggest they got the gig because somebody in the booking office really liked their t-shirt.

      But hey, let’s talk about music.

      If music is what you care about, you’d know that someone like Dinky earned her way onto this list by way of the Martha Graham Dance Company, strings of massive hits, and decades upon decades of major gigs.

      She’s DJed, she’s sung vocals, she’s produced, she’s done everything. She’s one of the individuals who defines the genre today.

      If we kept to your 5% observation, and assumed *that statistic* wasn’t itself sexist and discriminatory, then she (and the other four individuals) wouldn’t have even made this list. Let’s let that sink in for a second.

      • myaccount

        Hi,

        thank you for you reply. I would like to clarify that my position is not that there is what you call “reverse discrimination”. I was not saying that men were under represented. Simply that it would be statistically expected that the sex distribution function of a random sample of a population represent the whole population. In this case the sample is “the artists invited to Berghain” and the population is “techno artists”. If this was not true, then, you can suspect that sex is a factor in the choice and not music alone.

        It might be that your position is that sex should be a discrimination factor in the choice, I don’t know, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I this case we would disagree.

        My position is that we need more women in techno, but the way to implement that is not to artificially control the sex distribution of artists. It’s by organically introduce more women to the joy of electronic music listening and production such that in the future 50% of that list are women.

        • Fine – and maybe my answer was a little harsh.

          But this isn’t a random sample. It’s the top acts booked at Berghain. In fact, it’d be hard to find a sample that was any *less* random. Now, quotas are something that have been up for debate, but I never made such a proposal.

          There’s one big assumption in your argument — that the *talent* distribution is equivalent to the overall gender distribution.

          A related assumption is that any deviation from the perceive norms in the general population or at other clubs would be evidence of using gender in the selection – but see the previous point.

          The reality is, the only thing we can prove from evidence is that women are less likely to be selected if their gender is known in many, many cases, not more. In fact, making an artificial assumption like selecting more women corrects that *existing* bias.

          And that’s the whole point. Berghain for this many bookings would have many, many criteria that have nothing to do with gender. If you wanted to draw any conclusion here, it’d be the opposite of what you’re saying – the conclusion would be that other clubs with a more male artist demographic are most likely biased against the very talent they’re hoping to attract.

          I wasn’t necessarily going to go there, but what I will say is, when you correct against something like an entrenched gender bias, you should also increase talent. And waiting for it to fix itself would only work if there weren’t various degrees of bias built into the system … and yeah, there are various degrees of bias built into the system.

          • myaccount

            I get your point your point about “talent” distribution. What I think you mean is that there might be for instance a particular sound or stylistic substance to female artists that could really suit a club owner’s taste such that he/she would be more likely to choose female artists. Yes, in so far as gender as an influence on artistic output we can’t automatically point to female bias if there are more females in the sample than the population. But I would argue that this effect is pretty small and could not possibly account for the article’s proposed gender parity.

            Given the propensity of male artists in electronic music and, as you’ve stated, a bias toward male artists, an adequate response, is not to impose an opposite bias to restore equity. I would never want a female artists ask herself if she is on a lineup for her artistic merits or because of an accident of biology/”fairness” policy. This is a cultural bias and will be nullified by elevating the culture, by cultural means not by gender policy.

            Sorry for taking so much of your time. You probably have better things to do.

          • Okay, let me clarify:

            I said that Berghain was a long way from gender parity. I didn’t mean to imply that I view parity as being necessary in a particular club in a particular genre in this particular length of time.

            I am passionate enough about electronic music to think in the long run, gender parity (or something like it, accounting for nonbinary identities) *is* a responsible and reasonable goal. Why do I think that? Because the thing that I devote my life to I don’t find to be particularly fundamentally gendered, because the colleagues I have feel the same, because active improvements to participation in gender have only proven rewarding and found greater talent and ability and collaboration.

            That means that an honest appraisal of where we’re at is also fair.

            Does that mean I’m going to criticize the Berghain booking office for the gender percentages in, say, 2011? No. Do I think this is the only important factor in booking? Of course not.

            But while we’re looking at numbers, we can look at this.

            And objectively, numerically, this isn’t parity. I actually made no *qualitative* statement, only a quantitative statement, and then people got defensive. So I think this calls for greater discussion – but in another context, as this wasn’t really the intended subject here.

          • myaccount

            I know you’re passionate, it shows. I know everything you say comes from a good place. You feel strongly about something bad and want to contribute in making it better. I have a lot of respect for that and all your contribution to this scene. We definitely have the same goal, making electronic music more diverse and inclusive such that we can share love even further and at the same time tap into unexploited talent. I think we disagree on the way.

            “In case you’re wondering, five out of those top twenty five are female, so we’re far from any gender parity even in one of the world’s more progressive big venues.”

            You’re implying that even the “best” is not nearly enough. That’s a qualitative statement. In light of your more recent comment I might have interpreted that wrong or you might have misspoke. 5/25 is 20%, which might denote a slight female over representation. I don’t have data to back that up though, just my honest assessment of the scene.

            Anyway I don’t want to drag this even further and detract people from the most important tone of the article which is about spreading the love.

            So cheers man a keep up the good work.

            EDIT: Now that I think about it you might not have been condemning Berghain but saying that the scene does not have enough women. If that’s the case then my bad.

          • I’m definitely not condemning Berghain, no. 😉 That was a face-value observation. There are friends and colleagues throughout that spreadsheet dump and I have friends doing bookings. This is something we’re all engaged and talking about. And I think at least some of us look not necessarily to condemn the situation today, but to the idea that we will see the day where it’s not uncommon to see 50/50 gender balance – and maybe not even notice anymore. I think that’s a reasonable expectation, especially given the speed with which the scene overall is growing and the rate at which the tools are winding up in the hands of DJs and producers.

          • Gahlord

            Focusing on the population “techno artists” means you are beginning with a survivor bias situation that is already notoriously and systemically stacked against women. This is a major and obvious flaw in your initial premise.

        • Sean Keller

          In my opinion, your position was clear in your first post, but congratulations on clarification. I don’t know where it is that you suggested men are victims of “music-killing reverse discrimination”, nor is there a whiff of misogyny anywhere in your post. I am surprised by the back-handed threat by Peter to delete positions with which he disagrees. Especially, given your position is measured, rational, and really just on the mark. I applaud your restraint in responding to an emotionally-charged ad hominem attack, and keeping to your position. Yes, let’s please have more humans making and enjoying techno; any identified gender, ethnicity or hair color even. Just let it resonate.

          • myaccount

            Thanks for the kind words. I would not hold his initial emotional knee-jrek reaction against him. He responded with a more reasoned argument below.

            Have a nice day!

      • To the OP:
        Several organizations that have tried gender blind auditioning have shown a massive uptick in women artists/musicians when the gender is no longer initially known. Funny how that works.

        So don’t give me that “gender equity” is “sex discrimination.” What’s happening is already discrimination and all your “reverse sexism” horseshit doesn’t change that.

        • myaccount

          That’s awesome stuff, do you know where I could read more about that?

        • Sean Keller

          Gender blind auditioning sounds great. Would love to support those organizations. Where can I do so?

  • R__W

    Berghain is a gay club so it shouldn’t be surprising its top acts are mostly gay men. Failing to mention (or even realize?) this aspect is a big omission from both the analysis and subsequent discussion.