The thrill that people seek in dance clubs is not photographable—the merging of bodily and planetary forces, a moment that feels breathlessly eternal. Hunger for this thrill exploded in Berlin when the Wall came down in 1989 and the brio of a 900-year-old city, stifled for generations, let loose again. It was especially palpable in the dance venues that sprang up at the time—Tresor, Ufo, Planet—which not only no longer exist but now seem, to those of us who remember them, too ecstatic ever to have existed.
“It was a special time,” says curator Felix Hoffmann, who came to Berlin in 1997 as an art student. “Spaces were empty. The young art scene and the young music scene had the freedom to fill the spaces.” Hoffmann and guest curator Heiko Hoffmann conjure up that enthralling Neverland in the exhibition “No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989–Today.” The title is taken verbatim from a policy, enforced strictly in Berlin, that allowed clubgoers unembarrassed self-expression while protecting their privacy. And yet, the show does manage to include a few “forbidden” photos, along with videos, projections, and atmospheric shots taken elsewhere in and around the clubs, by well-known figures such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Martin Eberle, as well as by non-professional denizens of the scene.
Planned for the exhibition are club nights featuring legendary guest D.J.’s like Modeselektor and Ben Klock. In the current era of selfies, will photographs be allowed on this dance floor? Hoffmann laughs. “I don’t think so, but we will see how it goes.” —Stephen Greco