Five minutes before 6 AM on July 4 in Brooklyn, NY, Nick Höppner steps up behind the DJ booth and the two men standing near it, Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock. There’s a sense that Höppner is the Papa Bear in this situation, something paternal about the way he stands over Klock’s burly linebacker/Abercrombie model shoulders to see what he’s spinning. And when Hoppner takes the decks for himself, snapping on a pair of headphones and blasting the weirdos who made it to such a late hour with a cleansing breath of airy, beatless synth chords, there is a palpable sense of relief and catharsis: we made it.
It is no surprise that Höppner seemed to command a paternal air around Klock and Dettman, two of the most legendary residents at one of the most legendary nightclubs in the world, the Berghain. Höppner cofounded the Berghain’s label, Ostgut Ton, which is responsible for churning out a good portion of Dettman and Klock’s recorded work. Höppner even curated the label’s most recent release, Panorama Bar 04, a compilation of gourmet house titled after the Berghain’s house-oriented upstairs floor. In fact, Höppner’s appearance in New York that night was the closing set at the record release party for Panorama Bar 04. Nick Höppner chose to throw his Ostgut Ton/Panorama Bar record release party in New York, days before the O Ton party at Berghain this weekend—does that mean anything?
Although the release party and compilation were related to Panorama Bar, the majority of the night was devoted to the sounds of Berghain’s other specialty, which Höppner has called “purist techno.” In true all-night-long Berghain/purist techno styles, Dettmann and Klock supplied endless thunder kicks for no less than five hours that night, which was probably a short set for them.
Thanks to warm summer weather, attendees to the O Tun showcase had the option to mill around and take a break outside. Conversation between strangers flowed, especially about the the good ol’ days of raving (“when all your Seratonin is fresh”) and needing a lighter. An all-night rave really is a weird little escape from the workaday world: the sets are very long, the music is pretty out-there, and by the end of the night new friends constantly recognize each other as they walk around.
The thing about techno is that it does all sound pretty much the same, but that is the very special beauty of the genre. A techno set like Dettmann exchanging songs with Klock may feature stretches of compact, quiet minimal and periods of intense big-room bangers, but it’s all like one long song, one breath, one thought, one sentence. It’s meditative, and a set is like a marathon for both partygoers and DJ: the stress of mind and body, the test of endurance, the ability to just chill out and be okay that this is where you are right now, so just enjoy it. Dude, I think I totally get techno now—at least, kind of.