Next to the poster with the names of the 2,622 artists who have played at Harry Klein for 17 years and one with the reminder that “there is no place for sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and violence” is hanging in the golden hallway to the club -Door also a poster with the “Prophecy of the Hedonists.Inside”. Based on the Cree people’s saying of saving the planet, it says: “Only when the last club is closed, the last festival canceled and the last illegal party dissolved, will you realize that you can’t dance to the jingle of money.” That pretty much sums up the precarious state of DJ culture, particularly that of Harry Klein.
The days of the Munich flagship club in the electronic field are numbered. And that has been going on for quite a while: the house on Sonnenstrasse was sold, together with the techno box set up in the basement, on the ground floor and on the first floor, soundproofed on an outrageously expensive spring mechanism. It is to be demolished, a new hotel built, and the operators of Harry Klein were given notice of termination. About three years ago, until the building rights were clarified, there was another two-year extension, then another three months, another three, another six and now, surprisingly, another three. In April 2023, the building should finally be handed over “swept clean”.
Peter Fleming and Peter Suss don’t seem particularly frustrated in their backstage office cubbyhole in the basement; they’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with the end. “Every day more is a profit,” say the managing directors, artists had asked them as a precaution. Still, they are worried. It’s less about their own future and more about the DJ club culture that they helped build: “Techno is pop culture now, no big festival can do without DJs.” They do something for society as a whole, they say, cooperate with the Hypo-Kunsthalle as well as with classical and jazz musicians, do work with young people, and set an example for the scene with social activities and queer, gender-appropriate programs.
“We make the world a little better in our own way. We can do what we have loved since we were young,” says Fleming. Unfortunately, not everyone loves techno, electro and bass music, many consider it a noise or drug problem, a seedy subculture, an “Itzz-itzz-itzz” joke. “We may not be systemically relevant,” says Peter Süss, “but we are vitally relevant”. Where else should young and young-at-heart people celebrate, dance, let themselves go, find their love and live it out?
In the street? Many party-goers went there when the clubs had to close during the pandemic. A huge garbage and noise nuisance for many residents, which at least made city politicians and administrators recognize the need for orderly indoor and outdoor celebration areas. In the club capital of Berlin, with its Club Commission as an influential lobby representative, people were of course even further. So that even the “Parliamentary Forum Clubkultur” 2021, initiated by the left-wing member of the Bundestag Caren Lay (“Stop the club dying”), brought about an epochal motion for a resolution in the building committee: With this, members of all democratic factions recognized the music clubs and Live performance venues as “facilities for cultural purposes” under building law and put the concerns of the clubs on the political agenda in the first place.
The Federal Government was thus given the task of adapting the building law and making the “Technical Instructions for Protection Against Noise”, the sharpest sword of the enemies of celebrations, more club-friendly in the Federal Immission Control Act. The government even included this in the coalition agreement. According to Lay, nothing has actually happened yet: “In the background there is probably a lot of tugging about these reforms, which are important for clubs,” says the left-wing politician. She demands that the parliamentary order is finally implemented so that “club culture and open air can take place in the cities instead of being threatened in their existence.”
First of all, the recognition is something ideal, say Süss and Fleming. It also helps when talking to the authorities, although you listen to them in the Munich cultural department anyway. But it would be different when arguing in the building department, for example, because the legal basis is missing. “In a purely residential area, for example, no club should be operated at all at the moment,” says Fleming. It’s also about protecting existing buildings: who pays for the soundproofing if someone suddenly builds a residential building next to a club? And protection against dismissal. “Our investor should have at least talked to us, he might have put the Harry Klein on the roof of the hotel.”
“Night economy is a locational advantage, also a reason why Google and Microsoft choose Munich.”
That hits most of the city’s “artistically active” clubs. Signalman Thiel and Blitz are only accommodated for temporary use, many are exploring the narrow, expensive city for free spaces where they can develop their culture without strict guidelines. To this end, Süss and Fleming are calling for more support from the city, including encouraging culture-friendly investors. In general, pop culture is underdeveloped in terms of funding.
“Night economy is a locational advantage, also a reason why Google and Microsoft choose Munich.” There is only one subsidy from the city for the month-long festival “Mary Klein” with only women at the DJ desk, plus there is now and then prize money from the federal initiative music (the colleagues from the Red Sun even got the main prize and 50th place today). 000 euros won as Club of the Year), the Corona restart aid from the Free State expires at the end of the year.
The Harry Klein makers don’t give up, they keep looking for a place that will probably not be called Harry Klein. From March they will be one of four operators of the gigantic temporary use project in the old Gasteig, but they don’t want to set up their own club there and only plan individual events. After all, when searching, they came across the traditional Moro restaurant on Müllerstraße. Together with other nocturnal people, they will soon be driving this to new heights as a “queer traditional Bavarian inn”. “With heart,” they insist, “because that’s the only way culture can function, not as an investment.”