Berlin Techno Clubs Under Threat From Motorway Expansion

Berlin Techno Clubs Under Threat From Motorway Expansion

Berlin (AFP) – The Autobahn might be loved by bands Kraftwerk, but it has become the bane of Berlin's techno scene, with the expansion of the motorway threatening to close down several clubs in the German capital.

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The planned expansion of the A100 has united nightclubs and environmentalists, who say it will help the climate crisis.

In the coming years, a partial ring road in central Berlin is expected to extend north, from Treptower Park on the Spree to the Friedrichshain nightspot.

The expansion would put five of the region's most popular nightclubs at risk, according to the Berlin Club Commission, the city's network of clubs and cultural promoters.

These include About Blank, an industrial-style techno club near Ostkreuz station, and Renate, an LGBTQ community center in an apartment block.

"These are the clubs that have existed here for 20 or 30 years... They are what make Berlin famous and the reason people love it," Lutz Leichsenring, a spokesman for the club's board, told AFP.

The club's board helped organize a protest rally in early September to oppose the plans.

Techno was played at temporary stands along the planned A100 route, while thousands of people danced in trousers and leopard print posters.

club culture

"The clubs around here ... are really important to the culture of Berlin," said student Adrian Schmidt, 25, wearing a black top and a pearl necklace.

"All these clubs create spaces for free expression.

Carol Canale, a 25-year-old marketing manager in Paris, had her first experience at a German club with About Blanc and is a regular at five high-risk clubs.

"It's a place where people have a lot of memories... and it would be very sad if it all closed," he said.

After the fall of the Wall, Berlin's club scene flourished, giving new purpose to many of the city's industrial buildings and grounds.

But the city's nightclubs have struggled in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, noise complaints, rents, red tape and rising costs.

Eli Steffen, 37, a member of About Blanken's ownership group, described the planned widening of the A100 as "that meaningless gray motorway".

Do you really think the protesters stand a chance against the powerful German auto industry and the FDP-led Transport Ministry?

He said no one can say at the moment.

But "we are very determined to fight and we believe that a transport-friendly, climate-friendly, diverse and colorful city is always worth fighting for."

The German branch of the "Fridays for Future" movement also joined the protest with environmental concerns.

Clara Duvigneau, 21, a spokeswoman for the group, said: "Construction of the A100 must be stopped not only for obvious social reasons, but also because motorways are one of the main drivers of the climate crisis."

"Increase traffic flow"

But outside the cultural bubble of central Berlin, not everyone is determined to stop the traffic.

According to a recent poll by the newspaper Die Welt, 62% of Germans are in favor of renewing and expanding the country's road network.

Only 33% believe in stopping the expansion of roads to protect the climate.

Decisions on highway infrastructure are made by the central government; This particular extension of the A100 was first agreed in 2016 under former Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The current coalition led by Olaf Scholz has vowed to push ahead with the plans, despite promising to reassess some major infrastructure projects for environmental impact.

At the government's latest press conference, Transport Ministry spokesman Bastian Pauli said the widening of the highway is "necessary to cope with and adapt to future traffic flows".

In Berlin, which this year elected a conservative mayor for the first time in 20 years, the project is unlikely to face political opposition.

Kai Wegner, a 50-year-old former insurance agent, said he strongly supports the extension.

Although the neighbors called him crazy, he had the last laugh.

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