On Saturday night I found myself raving in a German club, Schwester, to house music with a ceiling shattering baseline. I sipped on my German Pilsner beer and breathed in the atmosphere. The Germans, Berliners in particular, pride themselves on their clubbing experience. Us Londoners are tame according to them. My German cousin was dismayed when he came over to London for the first time, last year, expecting to party it up, only to be booted impatiently out of the Leicester Square club that we were in, at 3am. That's pretty late by my standards, but according to him, Berlin does it better, or at least, they club harder. I've been to Berlin since, but didn't go 'out out' so I still can't vouch for that. But If Saturday night was anything to go by, it seems like he might be right.
The odd thing is that I spent my Saturday night in Elephant and Castle, home to the Ministry of Sound, London. Many a student night were spent there partying 'til dawn, but this time was different. I felt like I was in Berlin. How might one experience the authenticity of a crazy German club in good ol'd London, I hear you ask. I was at a Secret Cinema X evening. For those unfamiliar with that concept, it's an immersive cinema event that plants you in a whole new place and time and allows to experience music, dance and film in a totally novel way. This is the second one that's happened so far, I hear the first one was based on 'Amy', and featured a jazz club experience to boot; I'm sorry to have missed that.
The film on show on Thursday was 'Victoria', a Sebastian Schipper directed film which won the Berlin Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for Cinematography. It was really good, and better still, we were lucky enough to see it a week before its UK release, on 1st April. Not many films can keep you watching for two plus hours these days, we're all busybody clock watchers with places to be and people to see, but I've got to say this film was excellent. I found it slow to start with, but I grew attached to the main character Victoria as the film progressed. I watched innocent, naive Victoria meet a group of nutty Berliners in a club, and in the hours that followed, the course of her night, and possibly life, crumbled before my eyes. I even shed a silent tear. Yeah sure, the storyline was unrealistic (it's unlikely that you'll bump into prospective bank robbers in a German club, and no sane person gets into a car with drunk strangers) but no, I didn't care. The cinematic effects were incredible (I heard the film was shot in one take), the soundtrack was great and the consistency with the real-life club-setting was very effective too.
For those that had the stamina, the film's ending signalled the continuation of party time with lookalikes who had me well-and-truly fooled. Apparently this Berlin club carried on 'til the early hours of Easter Sunday morning.
If you're after a clubbing experience like this though you might be saddened to know that these one-night-only events are as secret as the more widely known Secret Cinema nights. Before you get there you'll only know that you're in for a good night, but nothing else is given away. Guess to your heart's content, but you'll always be surprised. I'm not sure when the next one is but a Google every now and again will keep you in the know.
If you don't like surprises, which lots of people don't, some of the themes of the events are made public in advance; The Grand Budapest Hotel and Star Wars were, for example. 28 Days Later, a post-apocalyptic horror-come thriller directed by Danny Boyle, is the next upcoming experience. I for one, as a fan of the film, am game, but terrified. I know it's going to be damn spooky, SC don't do half measures.
'Come join the party guys, why are you leaving so soon' hollered one of the actors as we made our way towards the exit.
'It's not soon, it's really late!' I protested.
He shouted back at us, laughing, 'It's early guys! In Berlin we pardy 'til morning'.