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David Bowie is back in Berlin

The international exhibition that spans David Bowie's career across five decades opens its doors to the public this Tuesday at Martin-Gropius-Museum in Berlin.

David Bowie is back in Berlin
David Bowie exhibition at Martin-Gropius Museum in Berlin. Photo: DPA

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Curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), “David Bowie Is” is the fastest-selling exhibition shown by the London museum. The curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, have selected more than 300 objects that explore and document the singer's creative and musical odyssey, together with his many different artistic personas such as Ziggy Stardust.

Among the objects on display are original costumes, instruments, music videos, fashion, handwritten lyrics and set designs.

David Bowie lived in Berlin from 1976 to 1978, where he wrote and recorded the successful Heroes album, part of the Berlin Trilogy – Low, Heroes and Lodger, at the legendary Hansa Studios.

A special Berlin version of the exhibition has been curated for the German staging of "David Bowie Is", with an additional 60 objects from the “Berlin Years”.

Although short, the time he spent in Berlin is often viewed as the most innovative and productive period of his career.

Showcasing objects and photos from that era, the exhibition takes the visitor on a colourful and creative journey through Bowie's Berlin. Influenced by the vibrant Berlin nightlife, he drew on his experiences and the energy from Berlin's clubbing scene and his artistic friends, including Iggy Pop, as he broke boundaries with fashion, music and art.

The title song of Heroes was inspired by a doomed romance in the shadows of the Berlin Wall. As Bowie watched the lovers kissing under a watchtower, he penned the song which was to become his Berlin anthem and one of his best-loved songs.

In addition to the exhibition, dedicated Bowie fans can also take a music tour the Bowie Berlin Walk during the exhibition's run. The musical tour takes a journey around past the Hansa Studios, through Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and to Platz der Republik in front of the Reichstag, where he held an outdoor concert in June 1987.

“David Bowie Is” will be officially opened by foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday and open to the public from Tuesday. The exhibition will run until August 10th.

SEE ALSO: Berlin's best street art – in pictures

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MUSIC

Dancing like there’s no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig

For techno enthusiast Philipp Koegler, it almost felt like a normal Saturday night again as he joined 200 fellow revellers at "Distillery", the first German nightclub to reopen since the start of the pandemic.

Dancing like there's no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig
A file photo of a disco ball in a night club. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Britta Pedersen

“Tonight, there are no rules,” the almost 30-year-old told AFP, whipping off his mask on his way to the dance floor.

Despite more than a year of closures forced by the coronavirus, it didn’t take long for the thumping beats, low lights and buzzing crowds to reawaken the much-missed club atmosphere.

“It feels like I’ve come back after being away on vacation for a week,” Koegler beamed.

But of course there are some rules to restarting the party, even in Germany where coronavirus infections have declined steadily in recent weeks as the pace of vaccinations has picked up.

The Distillery club in the eastern city of Leipzig, which bills itself as the oldest techno venue in Germany’s former Communist east, is taking part in a pilot project supported by scientists from the Max Planck institute and the local university hospital.

Just 200 club-goers are allowed in instead of the usual 600 and each person must take two different kinds of coronavirus tests earlier in the day, with entry granted only if they test negative both times.

Once inside, the masks can come off and revellers don’t have to socially distance.

Each participant also agrees to being re-tested a week later, to uncover potential infections despite the precautions taken.

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Organisers hope the project can serve as a blueprint for further club re-openings to help the hard-hit sector back on its feet after a devastating year.

Although several venues in Germany experimented with open-air parties, club-goer Konny said it “just isn’t the same”.

“In the club, you’re in a different world,” she said.

Growing influence

Distillery manager Steffen Kache expressed pride at being the first club in the country to reopen indoors.

“Everyone is jealous,” he told AFP.

Kache said that if there has been an upside to the pandemic closures, it was that politicians had woken up to the social and economic importance of Germany’s vibrant club culture.

Lawmakers last month agreed to reclassify nightclubs as cultural institutions rather than entertainment venues, putting them on a par with
theatres and museums to provide more protection and tax benefits.

Germany’s nightlife capital Berlin alone – home to iconic clubs Berghain, KitKat and Tresor – usually attracts tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year who generate over a billion euros in revenues.   

Many observers fear that when the pandemic dust has settled, not all of Germany’s clubs will have survived the lengthy shutdowns.

The collaboration with local authorities that made Distillery’s pilot project possible was “unthinkable before the crisis”, Kache said, and evidence of a “reconciliation” between underground club culture and the political establishment.

He said he hoped the next step would be “the nationwide reopening of cultural spots and clubs, without Covid restrictions”.

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