Distant suburbs

Cities leave footprints far larger than their physical borders; there’s usually a whole hinterland dedicated to feeding the city, housing its commuting workers, resentfully dreaming of the place. Sometimes it seems to cover an entire country: London and Paris have near-total dominance over the cultures and economies of England and France. But Berlin? No – Berlin is too young and small and poor, Germany is too decentralized, the Wall messed things up too long.

Then along comes Tobias Rapp, to point out that sprawl isn’t always that simple

Berlin’s suburbs are no longer in Brandenburg, but in Europe – in Venice, Barcelona or Leeds. Tourists have become the fourth pillar of our nightlive, alongide the Ossis, the gays and the Mittis. They’re also scarily well-informed: if a new illegal club opens up, the next month it’ll have a write-up in one of the in-flight magazines” [from the current Zitty, not online]

I’d say the clubs themselves, more than Ryanair, are responsible for this. Tresor, Berghain and Watergate all run their own record labels; globetrotting DJs boost Berlin’s reputations wherever they stop off. But Rapp is (as usual) spot-on with the rest; it’s the neverending airlift of clubbers, the backpackers, and Erasmus students that keeps Berlin’s nightlife afloat. Better to have commuters playing here and workng elsewhere than the opposite, right?

Rapp calls these visitors the Easyjetset, and is finishing up a book about them and Berlin’s clubs. I can’t wait to read it; almost everything he writes has something interesting to say.

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