It’s still quiet on Maximiliansplatz. Friday evening, half past six: the sun is shining, it’s a pleasant 18 degrees. Lucky for the organizers. Because here, in the middle of the city, later in the evening over 600 people will dance and celebrate in the open air. This was made possible by the Association of Munich Cultural Organizers (VDMK). For the pilot project “Munich dances again” he teamed up with the clubs on Maximiliansplatz – Pacha, 089Bar, Rote Sonne, Sweet Club and Call me Drella – as well as the Filmcasino, Harry Klein and the World League.
For them, it is the first opportunity after 19 months of the pandemic to give city residents a public party night. “It feels a bit historical,” says Tom Hilner, co-founder of Pachas. He sits on a park bench and lets his gaze wander over the almost 2000 square meter site. The music is still quiet and the number of visitors is manageable. But Hilner is confident. “It’s going to be a real party later in the night,” he says.
Financially, the pilot project is hardly worthwhile for Hilner and the other club owners. But his job is also a passion, says Hilner. And it is a good test run for the autumn, should the clubs really be allowed to open.
The 600 tickets were sold out in advance within a very short time. Some of the guests are there now, holding onto their drinks as they watch from the beer benches on the edge. Including Robert Riks (24) and Alexander Grünwald (23), both already visibly tipsy. “The feeling of freedom that we are slowly regaining is indescribable,” says Robert. They are happy not to have to wear masks on the premises. Alexander agrees: “What used to be normal is now something special again.” Until a few hours ago it was not clear whether the mask requirement would actually be dropped. But thanks to the new corona rules that Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) announced last Tuesday, visitors to the open-air club only have to be vaccinated, recovered or tested negative.
Robert and Alexander are satisfied with the so-called 3-G rule. Like many other guests, you have already been vaccinated. So that even more young people can be vaccinated, the organizers of the pilot project have booked a vaccination bus right next to the site. “We are ready today with 500 cans,” says Nikolas Parschau from the Klinikum rechts der Isar. About 130 people actually get vaccinated, mostly younger ones towards the end.
The rush is great, many are queuing to get a ticket
The evening is now a few hours old. And while the number of guests inside is slowly increasing, there is a long queue outside. Many still want to get in who couldn’t get tickets in advance. Among those waiting are Lenja Soeffker (19), Johanna Jakob (19) and Marina Römer (20). They have made themselves comfortable with their drinks in front of a shop window. “We’ve been waiting for half an hour. We hope to get in at ten o’clock,” says Lenja.
Because she turned 18 in lockdown, it would be the first club night of her life. But can you compare a large open-air area with the narrow walls in the club, the stuffy air and the people huddled together? The four friends Laura Bieringer (20), Lilly Unterberger (20), Julia Bittner (20) and Martha Soldner (21) disagree. “In here you don’t notice anything about Corona,” says Lilly. “The anticipation is greater, you are more motivated,” adds Julia.
You are happy about such an alternative in corona times. But they miss the physical proximity of the indoor clubs. Here people are more inhibited, the situation is still unfamiliar for many. But it is still too early in the evening to draw a conclusion. “We’re waiting for it to get dark and people start dancing,” says Laura. “And it’s still a little early.”
Entering a club before midnight? It used to be unimaginable. But now, around a quarter past ten, something is suddenly happening. The dance floor in the middle of the square is filling up. The music gets faster, louder, more danceable. DJ Karotte hangs up.
In front of the DJ booth a group of techno fans who used to be found in Harry Klein or the Rote Sonne have come together. They have closed their eyes, their satisfied faces are bathed in red light by the headlights. And the longer the evening goes, the closer the celebrants dance, embrace, and snog at one point or another.
“If you don’t try anything, you won’t see whether it works”
Turn up the bass in an uncontrolled manner, but that is not possible, out of respect for the neighbors, says Peter Süß, “caretaker” of Harry Klein. He, too, has mingled with the dancing people and seems satisfied: “You can see that clubs do not create the demand, but cover the demand.” He hopes that more such experiments will be possible in the future. “If you don’t try anything, you don’t see whether it works.”
The willingness of the people of Munich, for example, to register and test or to be vaccinated, is there. Nevertheless, he is skeptical of the club opening in October, which Söder announced last week: “I only think so when I shake hands with the first guest.” He is joined by Kay Mayer, head of the night moderation department and co-organizer of the event. “After a year and a half, it takes more than an announcement. It takes something tangible,” says Mayer. For him, today’s event is also an initial success: “This is a model event, a courageous pilot project that can and should be built on.”
It is now 11 p.m. The beer benches on the edge are almost empty, the dance floor is completely full, the atmosphere is exuberant. Lenja is standing at the bar. She still managed to get in with her friends. “I’m happy to be here,” she says, smiling all over her face. “And I’m curious what it will be like when we go straight to the dance floor.” Today she doesn’t want to worry about autumn. Today she just wants to “enjoy life”.