Backed by Rave the Planet, Berlin artists are organizing to apply for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status for techno in the city. And there’s a film.

Featured in the film are some usual suspects:

Adriaan van der Werf ◼︎ Alan Oldham ◼︎ Alexander Krüger ◼︎ Daniel Boon ◼︎ Dimitri Hegemann ◼︎ Dr. Motte ◼︎ Ellen Allien ◼︎ Hans Cousto ◼︎ Marc Wohlrabe ◼︎ Mike Vollmuth ◼︎ Sophie Augello

You can read up on the application via Rave the Planet and judge for yourself:

https://www.ravetheplanet.com/en/cultural-heritage-techno/

Before getting into whether this is strange or not or what UNESCO status means for intangible culture, maybe the really surprising twist to this story is that the city that does have this status for techno is – wait, Zürich? The one in Switzerland? Not Detroit or Berlin?

Zürich recognises ‘techno culture’ as part of its UNESCO ‘intangible cultural heritage’

I’d say if that happened in 2017 and none of us were the wiser, we should probably just enjoy the film and not worry either way.

But yeah, techno is threatened in Berlin – possible, I guess? (Anyone seen anywhere to buy a bottle of beer or Club-Mate in town, by the way?)

So what is this UNESCO list? Here’s the official site:

https://ich.unesco.org/

Here is how UNESCO’s Cécile Duvelle describes the reason for this project:

“The more globalized the world becomes, the more important it is not to lose forever these traditional roots.”

That’s in a little summary that’s the bite-sized “TL:DR” version from National Geographic (a publication not entirely known for its locally-sourced content):

The UNESCO definition is that the purpose of the list is practices that “require urgent measures to keep them alive.”

So it seems the video makes two arguments – that techno is an unequaled global style with Berlin at the center, but that Berlin as the center and techno as a global style is threatened.

It’s possible that paradox sums up a particular perspective of some of Berlin’s cultural discourse around club music – that the purpose is “protecting” the musical practice itself. UNESCO applications aside, maybe that’s revealing. I wonder if younger generations of producers – or even producers who never quite made it into the inner circle, whatever their biological age – will see it the same way.

It gets to the heart of electronic music (not just techno) as folk music. On one hand, it’s accessible in production and is transmitted between generations, aurally and orally – that’s a characteristic of a lot of folk musics. On the other, because these styles are also popular, club styles, there is a countervailing collision between new and traditional. Music with big capitals like Berlin may not necessarily be friendly to local variation or change, either.

As long as you don’t try to put things under glass and build a museum, maybe that’s a good thing. Between the traditionalists and the people shaking it up is a collision of high pressure and low pressure that makes for a nice, healthy tempest.

Speaking of which, maybe I better get under some nice, sturdy object having just brought this up. Uh… see ya!

This site asks you to donate –

https://www.ravetheplanet.com/en/cultural-heritage-techno/

… but honestly, please just go find some undiscovered producers and buy stuff from their damned Bandcamp. Good night.