Status: 03.12.2021 3:56 p.m.
The party capital Berlin is facing the next pandemic-related closure of all clubs. Even without another lockdown, many operators are already struggling to survive.
It is midnight, and the possibly last party in the “White Hare” is getting off to a modest start. The first DJ did not show up and the boss has to hang up himself. Maik Maschine, operator of the “Hasen”, plays techno beats with subtle 1990s influences. If it weren’t for Corona, up to 500 people would be celebrating here. So far around 20 have appeared, around half of them are dancing.
Corona controls at freezing temperatures
“2G +, 50 percent – those are the rules,” says Maik. So only for vaccinated or convalescent people plus a current negative rapid test. And only 50 percent utilization is permitted, so a maximum of 250 people. “We can’t get them together,” says Maik. “Instead of one minute at the entrance, we currently need almost ten per person.” ID, proof of vaccination, online registration and the current test certificate must be checked. “And many do the test only here. Another ten minutes. By the time we’ve let 250 people in, half of them have already left.”
Outside the door, the puddles have long since turned into ice. A dozen people are freezing in line. Bouncer Stefan tries to cope with the bureaucracy with friendliness. “Citizens, please show your ID first,” he says to the guests. For some, the QR code does not work, for others the battery is empty. It takes time. Stefan tries a smile and hops from one leg to the other when the temperature is below zero.
Still waiting for Corona help
At two o’clock the dance floor is full, around 100 people are now in the club. Maik hands over to Kai, a DJ from the Berlin scene, on the fly. You know each other. The “rabbit’s” small office is upstairs. Maik starts up the computer and explains what traces the Corona period left behind financially. “The cushion is all gone,” he says. “I’m still waiting for immediate aid IV 4.0. But I already have an answer: ‘We ask you to refrain from inquiries’.”
Since the first lockdown, the audience has also changed in the “Hasen” – more tourists, fewer regulars. Nobody can really explain how this fits in with travel restrictions and the like. Jan, 50, from Berlin was someone who was involved in techno in the 1990s. Ten or twelve hours of dancing is still normal for him. “I went through the turnaround with this music 30 years ago. I take every evening with me that I can go away. I live that. Life without techno – that’s just before jail.”
Is the lockdown coming, isn’t it?
Jan is one of the few here who has any idea that the clubs could possibly be closed again this weekend. Most react by surprise, some have already planned their party weekend until Monday. Marie, 36, also from Berlin, only found out a few hours ago that tonight could be the last evening. Forbidding 2G parties makes no sense to her: “Because the audience here doesn’t fill up the intensive care units.” Operator Maik has not understood everything that is publicly discussed for a long time. “They say the unvaccinated are to blame for the fourth wave. And then they say: we’d best close the clubs first – the places where everyone is vaccinated and tested?”
DJ Kai has finished his set and climbs the stairs – still a little out of breath. “And what’s up with Gage?” He asks and runs his way through his gray beard. “Not that much,” says Maik. The business deal is resolved within seconds. Neither of them will get rich tonight, that much is clear. Before Corona, the capital’s club industry is said to have brought in a total of 1.5 billion in sales per year. At the moment it is more of a subsidy business: for the state that provides support and for those who actually live from it – and currently work on uneconomical terms.
You can still dance on the weekend
Half past four in the morning. Daniel, 28, wants in, but has no test with him. So take a swab, wait. “I only found out earlier that this was the last night.” “No”, shouted other guests in the queue, “the weekend is still open”. After ten minutes of discussing the current Corona situation, nobody is wiser, but at least all tests are negative. Daniel and the others head straight for the dance floor.
“We have a 361 incidence, and the trend is falling,” says operator Maik. “If we wait for the weekend, we might be below the 350 mark again”. Then, so the hope here, they might not have to close after all. And if it does? What does that mean for the survival of the club, for the employees? “Then there is potato salad,” says bouncer Stefan in broad Berlinerisch. “Short-time work allowance or something, well we’ve laughed louder before.” He shrugs his shoulders, rubs his cold hands and hops from one leg to the other. Eight hours later, the Berlin Senate announces the result of its deliberations: the clubs will remain open for the time being – but from Wednesday there will be a “ban on dancing”.