80s Underground scene: from New York City to Berlin

New York underground: Image taken from: http://subwayartblog.com/ by Richard Sandler

“Berlin now is: New York in the ’80s, London at the height of Britpop, Paris in the ’30s.

If you believe the hype, and you really should, Berlin is the coolest city on the planet.”

Scott Roxborough

 “Berlin is everything Germany is not: spontaneous, exciting, open and cosmopolitan.”

Caterer K.P. Kofler

Berlin is far from being  tourist’s favourite  spot (I mean most tourists do not come here for the touristic spots); you can check the most famous places within two days; get a glimpse of history, take a couple of hundred photographs of the riddled walls, breath in the dark past and leave without getting to known the city for real… The fact is you can only feel it through when you put your head under the ground. Berlin can offer everything what you could possibly wish. It has no taboos, no time control, no prepossession. It’s main industry is culture, and you can explore it in all its expressions.

When New York was booming in 80s, I was enjoying my Soviet childhood, dipping bagels into a tea. I had no clue what was rock music and was pretty happy with Russian smash-hits.

NYC 80s. Image taken by: Marta Cooper

“Back in those days, if you can handle yourself, New York was the best. The clubs were better with bumping sound systems.You can have jams in the parks and play loud music also.I say loud and bumping sound systems because you can’t do that at all now without the rich plainjane yuppies complaining and calling the cops.There is no edge or deep rooted culture anymore..I tell you what though, if the economy keeps going bad, the old New York will come back and these yuppies will be sitting ducks.”


On a big distance from each other these two cities share a lot of in common. They share frank stories; soaked in alcohol, drugs and art. Dollar bills contaminated by cocaine, street art, dark smokey rooms, sticky floors, loud raucous music and multicultural audience. That’s New York and that’s Berlin. The only difference is – 20-year gap.

CBGB: image taken from: http://indieblogheaven.typepad.com/

“I wasn’t expecting the toilets at CBGB’s to be the bookends to Duchamp’s urinal, but then again, maybe 1977 had more in common with 1917 than anyone at the time could have imagined. The anti-art invasion of Dada in Switzerland and the surrealist pranksters who shadowed them had a blast pissing all over everybody’s expectations. The anti-everything of No Wave was a collective caterwaul that defied categorization, defiled the audience, despised convention, [expletive] in the face of history, and then split. You guessed right if you thought the toilets of CBGB’s sang a song of diseased lust to my raging hormones.”

Lydia Lunch

WATCH 80s UNDERGROUND/No WAVE documentary : Wait for those 20 sec  , it’s fucking worth it! Geniale Dilettanten – No Wave 3/3 by Spontis

Many special places come and go. Like CBGB in New York. But Berlin still has some valuable places left, where you can breath in the wonderful dampness of past. Kreuzberg in Berlin has always been a home for punk rock music, and is until now. You still can visit 70s best new-wave/punk venue called SO36 where people like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Red Crayola, Suicide, Lydia Lunch have performed. 

“In those days the club rivalled New York’s CBGB as one of the finest new-wave venues in the world, however unlike CBGB the venue still stands today and remains a fixture on the Berlin music scene championing new artists, while staying true to its punk past.”

Frank Apunkt Schneider

SO36, Berlin. Image taken by: Peter Gruchot

SO36, Berlin. Image taken from: http://www.myspace.com/ozgurmanga

SO36, Berlin. 70s. Image taken by Rainer

Glenn Branca admits that Berlin in 80s was the best place for underground music, the audience was amazing and wild. And SO36 is one of the best venues he has ever played. Next week, November the 8th and 9th are the two special nights at SO36 with GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR. I am insanely thrilled to have a ticket for the 9th! It’s not going to be the same, but the walls and the floor have been soaked with the 80s punk sweat, which cannot be washed off.

READ an AMAZING article on SO36 HERE

Berlin is trashy and poor, but Berlin compensates. It indulges with it’s artistic delirium and omnivorous absorption. You can make tons of things for free or paying very little.  As Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit puts it, coining the city’s unofficial motto, “Berlin is poor – but sexy.” 

I think this quote summarizes it all:

“This is a living neighbourhood (on Kreuzberg). Look at NYC. It’s dead! You have to take care of your places. Is there another place like that? I don’t think so. I like that you live somewhere, and there’s a bakery in the street, and a place to get vegetables, and a club.”

Gudrun Gut

New York City subway trains in the 80′s.Image taken from: http://www.doobybrain.com/2009/12/20/cope2-graffiti-from-the-80s/

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