Berlin clubs brought city €1.5 billion in 2018: study

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Berlin clubs brought city €1.5 billion in 2018: study
The entrance to Berlin's Berghain nightclub. Photo: DPA

Berlin’s famous club scene has long been hyped as among the best in the world. But a new study has shown that aside from comprising an essential stitch in the city’s “poor but sexy” fabric, Berlin’s nightlife has a very real economic value to match its unmeasurable street cred.


Ranking right alongside the Bundestag, Currywurst and the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s club scene has become a massive tourist draw in recent years - with three million people per year heading to the capital for its clubs alone.

Berlin’s nightlife - headlined by clubs like Berghain, Tresor and Sisyphos - has given the city a party reputation that few other global cities can match.

But while tourists may be attracted by the anything-goes ethos of Berlin nightlife, new research shows the significant economic value that the city’s nightspots bring to the historically cash-strapped city. 

SEE ALSO: Berlin clubs - the ten most famous and notorious

Economic value of Berlin clubs

A new study commissioned by the Club Commission found that club visitors spent an average of just over 200 per day - both directly in the clubs and in hotels, bars and restaurants - adding up to a total of just under 1.5 billion in 2018.

Clubs themselves made 168 million in total - both directly in the clubs and in hotels, bars and restaurants -  for example, food and beverage sales or employment of local contractors. 

The amount made by Berlin clubs does differ somewhat however, with only 11 of the 280 total nightlife venues making more than €2 million. The rest is averaged between 100,000 and 250,000. 

The Berlin Clubs Commission estimates that 9,040 people work directly in the club scene, with thousands more employed on an indirect basis.

'Creative industry is still Berlin's biggest'

"The creative industry is still Berlin's biggest, and the clubs are one of its most important pillars," Club Commission spokesman Lutz Leichsenring said.

People travel from all over Europe to visit Berlin's nightspots -- around 280 by Goldmedia's count, plus "informal" venues -- often arriving by low-cost airline from far-flung cities.

The figures also included a surprise for anyone for whom the words "Berlin" and "techno" are inseparable.

Electronic music from the genre was just the third-most-popular style played in 2018, with 40 percent of clubs saying they played it, while house and indie rock and pop were tied for first place on 47 percent each.

Meanwhile an age breakdown offered comfort to anyone worried stomping around a darkened room in the small hours might only be for the freshest faces, as clubbers were on average 30.2 years old.

Around 9,000 people work in Berlin's club scene, the study found, many of them with a relatively precarious "minijob" contract capped at €450 per month.

Berlin's city government last year approved a €1 million fund to help nightlife venues pay for soundproofing and hire staff to calm their wilder patrons, hoping to protect the industry from the noise complaints of long-suffering neighbours.‘

Could the party soon be over?

There are however some dark clouds on the horizon for Berlin clubs, even as business is booming. Representatives from the Club Commission argue that gentrification and a complicated licensing process has the ability to put a significant dent in the industry. 

With Berlin real estate costs on the rise and development taking place across the city, Leichsenring is concerned it could mean last drinks for some of the city’s most iconic venues - and the cultural and economic benefits they provide. 

The Club Commission has argued for the implementation of an ‘Agent of Change’ principle, similar to that adopted in London.

This requires builders investing in a development near a club to provide noise protection and insulation to reduce the likelihood of noise complaints. 

This alters the current system where noise complaints can shut down a club regardless of how long the club has been there or how important it is to the local community. 

"If new houses are built in Berlin today, the clubs are to blame in the end, if there are complaints,” Leichsenring told the Berlin Morgenpost

"The club scene itself is an important employer and industry, but even more important is its role as the pulse of the city."

SEE ALSO: No queue, no bouncer: Berlin clubs open as 'monuments'

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