Bon Voyage, FLY BerMuDa

Want to hear what I’m lis­ten­ing to as I write this? Magda at FLY BerMuDa 2012

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Got a dis­heart­en­ing newslet­ter from the pro­mot­ers of Berlin Music Days, a cel­e­bra­tion of that city’s vibrant, under­ground music scene held the first week of Novem­ber, with the announce­ment that its big fes­ti­val FLY BerMuDa, isn’t hap­pen­ing this year. In recent years, in addi­tion to club par­ties and tech­ni­cal sem­i­nars, the week was anchored at the end by FLY BerMuDa, held at the now-defunct Air­port Tem­pel­hof.  From what I can gather, the pro­mot­ers felt it was bet­ter to go back to what Berlin does best, focus­ing on label show­cases and club nights. So while you can likely still see all the major techno labels play in Berlin that week­end, there won’t be one mas­sive party where you can see them all at once.

FLY BerMuDa is one of the entries I’d already writ­ten for the book I’m writ­ing (yes, I’m writ­ing a book) — part techno fes­ti­val guide­book, part techno adven­ture chron­i­cles. And as this fes­ti­val is no longer hap­pen­ing, I may as well put this entry some­where. Guess this means I’m going to I LOVE TECHNO instead?

Unintended souvenirs

Unin­tended souvenirs

Fly BerMuDa Festival

Date: First Sat­ur­day in Novem­ber
Loca­tion: Tem­pel­hof Air­port
Yes, this event sells out
Aver­age ticket price: €59/$77USD
Web­site: FlyBerMuDa-festival.de

If techno is what you want, Berlin is where you go get it. Berlin Music Days is a week­long, city­wide cel­e­bra­tion of the beats that sound in the city’s heart, with label show­cases, sem­i­nars, doc­u­men­tary film screen­ings in addi­tion to par­ties hap­pen­ing almost every­where you go. Fly BerMuDa is the cherry on top of the week. Because every­thing in Berlin had a for­mer life and is repur­posed for mod­ern needs, the fes­ti­val is held in three, enor­mous, con­crete rooms of a hangar at the Air­port Tem­pel­hof, which is now a city park.

The party starts at 8 p.m. and like most par­ties in Berlin, ends when the last per­son leaves. Berlin’s favorite sons Pan-Pot started the 2012 night’s clos­ing set at 7 a.m., and went until about noon. Two main stages are sep­a­rated well enough by the con­crete walls so they don’t com­pete with each other, and the sched­ule is stag­gered enough that you can see a lit­tle bit of everyone’s set if you really want to. Sven Väth is an annual per­former, as is Luciano and Maceo Plex. Techno mis­tresses Ellen Allien and Magda com­mand the decks and the space as the boys do in the indus­trial compound.

There’s so much going on dur­ing the week of Berlin Music Days that it can be over­whelm­ing. But use those going out nights to try to catch those up-and-coming acts, or pro­duc­ers or DJs you’ve always heard of, but that never make it to the U.S. Fly BerMuDa is a good way to get a dose of all the major names you may have missed dur­ing the week.

Bring sun­glasses. It may not be sunny when you leave, but it will def­i­nitely be day time.

Unin­tended Souvenirs

What are these for?!” I shouted for the fourth time, hold­ing up the pink plas­tic poker chips that the bar­tenders kept hand­ing me every time I handed over my card to be stamped for beer. They searched for the words in Eng­lish – which they spoke per­fectly, by the by, way bet­ter than me strug­gling to get it in Ger­man. Over the bass I made out the words “… when you’re done… end of the party… deposit… 5 euros…”
I held one chip up in the dim light. It had the Fly BerMuDa Fes­ti­val logo on it, with a tiny hole punched in the top.

My friend and I had amassed quite a col­lec­tion as the night went on. The more rowdy we got, the more we for­got what to do with the chips. Where we sup­posed to give one back when­ever we needed a new cup? Where we sup­posed to cash them all in at the end of the night? Who knew? Who cared? So we kept just get­ting new cups, and chips every time we went back to the bar. We’d dis­ap­pear back in to the crowd, some­how find­ing the energy to dance some more, even though we said we’d leave two hours ago. We’d get more beers. We’d drop our cups on the floor.

Cabs were lined up out­side the Tem­pel­hof Air­port hangar at 10am when we finally emerged from the cav­ernous, cement build­ing. I slapped my sun­glasses on my face, the Las Vegan in me silently relieved that I had a shield between me and the real world. Oth­ers gri­maced and squinted as they came out into the day­light, pale, sweaty, like they’d been danc­ing for the past 10 hours because, well, they had. I’d never under­stood why in such a party city as this, sun­glasses were not de rigeur for a night you know would go until morning.

We piled into a cab for the 10-minute ride back to our rented apart­ment in Neukölln, lit­er­ally just on the other side of the mas­sive airport-cum-park. As we pulled up in front of our build­ing, I reached into my purse to grab some euro coins to pay the dri­ver. Instead I pulled out a hand­ful Fly BerMuDa chips. While they worth some­thing in that build­ing and in that party, to my cab dri­ver, who had just started her shift, she didn’t care. My friend had already pulled a bill out of his pocket. I promised myself I would string at least one chip up as a sou­venir. And sud­denly that chip was worth some­thing again.

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