My name is Anthony. I am a born and raised Berliner, a 22-year old son of an expatriate. I am the product of hip hop-turned-hipster socialization and a bachelor's degree in American Studies.
A regular Tuesday night in Berlin for me is at Monarch for a party called BeatGeeks. It was started a few months ago by Bob (just Bob or LeBob), a DJ and promoter, who also regularly hosts underground hip hop shows with his label Beatevolution. His right hand man is Suff Daddy, one of the most talented producers in Germany's aspiring beatmaking scene.
Every other week they host beat producers, mostly “local” – if not geographically, then in spirit – who either play some live beat sets with their MPCs or just spin some tunes in the same vein. The guests so far have included folks like Comfort Fit, Dexter, Krts, Chrisfader and Twit One. They are all testament to the fact that the beatmaking scenes in Germany and Austria have witnessed a remarkable growth in recent years – both in quality and in quantity – with labels like Project:Mooncircle and Melting Pot Music garnering some well-deserved international attention. It is somewhat of a sworn circle. “The people who come here are all folks that have grown tired of current hip hop and are now doing their own thing. That is something that connects us”, Bob remarks. Stylistically most of the stuff you'll hear at BeatGeeks is fairly similar to the whole Low End Theory brand of glitch and wonkiness. And of course you'll hear lots of Jaylib.
The venue is cool, but odd. It is located right at Skalitzer Straße which connects the main hipsterized part of the Kreuzberg's U-Bahn stations. As you exit U-Bahnhof Kottbusser Tor, you will instantly notice couples wearing black skinny jeans and blazers, with the left side of their heads shaved and an abundance of carefully neglected hair tossed over to the right, strutting with a calculated stiffness. There are also some Kreuzberg natives (ironically, the Government refers to them as “immigrants”), and a group of Obdachlose (Ed note: homeless people) standing in front of Kaiser's, scanning for empty beer bottles.
As I approach the entrance to Monarch, which is located on the top floor of a building that also harbors a Turkish church and club house, I make out the first beat geeks. They are wearing hooded jackets, drinking beers and smoking. I count one Starter hat, two pairs of glasses, one mini-skirt with tights, and four dudes. I rush past them into the abandoned stairwell, which is a jungle of tags, stickers and the faint, soaked-in smell of urine. Then I go up two flights of stairs and through the door.
Chez BeatGeeks greets me with a cloud of smoke, faintly golden light and a whiff of marijuana. There are an array of New Era hats, two couples playing foosball (Germans laugh at you if you call it that, they refer to it as “kicker”) beers clinking, and one white girl awkwardly shaking her booty. At this point of the night, the music is usually Lord Quas rapping about how blunted he is.
I look around the room, assessing faces–there are the familiar ones, hip hop faces, Kreuzberg faces, Italian weekend trip tourist girl liking my hat face, geek faces, MPM faces and so on. I usually target fellow regular face Sophie, a dear and reliable companion. I buy the first beer of the night at the bar and pay 3,80€. 1€ of that goes to the DJ and I get a stamp in return showing I paid. BeatGeeks is a no money-making-affair. “Mo' money, mo' problems” – Bob knows the motto. I greet my fellow regular face for a status update on life and music.
Tuesday nights are hella chill. As Bob puts it, “I always go home feeling happy”. In fact, they are so chill that I usually catch myself watching the last U-Bahn of the night roll by, as my vision begins to turn slightly blurry. More people start dancing as the music is turned up and I finally muster the energy to leave this place of serenity later than I had planned.
As I pass the bar, I once again give the foosballers (no-faux-American-patriotism on my part but in this case it sounds better than “kicker-players”) a fleeting glance and stumble through the door. The smoke cloud that had fiercely clung to me in there now makes itself felt with the stairwell's decrease in gravity. Those stairs are fast stairs. A few greedy gasps of fresh air and then right in to Misir Carsisi. Stand in line for five minutes, have a bite of a spinach-cheese-Börek and feel like Popeye until another Tuesday night in Berlin takes its course.
You can try it yourself:
Talk to a good friend about stuff that's on your mind over a few beers and some not tobacco-exclusive cigarettes while Bob's mix is playing in the background.
It's a one take, all-vinyl recording. That's just how BeatGeeks roll.
Photos by Josefine Lukschy.