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Berlin institution KitKat Club 'set to close doors'

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Berlin institution KitKat Club 'set to close doors'
The KitKat Club premises in Berlin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gobbler
14:52 CET+01:00
KitKat, an iconic fetish club in Berlin’s nightlife scene, is threatened with closure, local media reported on Thursday.

The KitKat, along with the Sage club which is hosted in the same premises, will have to move from the current location in Berlin next year.

Sage operator Sascha Disselkamp confirmed to local broadcaster RBB on Thursday that the rental contract for the building jointly operated by the two clubs was terminated by the owner.

Both clubs will have to close unless a solution is found, the managing director of the Club Commission, Lukas Drevenstedt, told the Berliner Zeitung.

As it stands, the clubs – located at the corner of Köpenicker and Brückenstraße – will have to leave in June 2020.

However, Drevenstedt said there was still hope that "people would come together" and the clubs would not have to move.

Disselkamp said bosses are still "desperately trying to get an extension" of the tenancy agreement for the building.

The news is the latest in a long line of blows to Berlin's nightlife scene. In the past years clubs including Bar25, the King Size and the Stadtbad Wedding have closed.

Other venues, such as Knaack, Bassy Club, White Trash and Kingkong Club, have also been shut or had to move due to investor's projects, new construction, rising rents or complaints

READ ALSO: Berlin clubs bring city €1.5 billion 

KitKat and Sage are among the most well-known nightlife institutions in Berlin. The KitKat, where guests often wear revealing outfits, is known for pushing boundaries with its debauched fetish parties.

Launched in 1994, the KitKat's name is inspired by the Berliner nightclub featured in the musical Cabaret. It was set in Berlin in the early 1930s, against the backdrop of the uprising of the Nazis, at a burlesque venue called the "Kit Kat Club".

Since 1994, the KitKat has moved a number of times. It was previously located in Kreuzberg and Schöneberg. Its current location in Mitte is near to the techno club Tresor and fairly close to Berghain in Friedrichshain.

Nightlife a huge draw for Berlin

The Club Commission, an association of 250 Berlin club operators and organizers, welcomed calls from the Christian Democrats in Berlin to stick up for the city's club scene.

Christian Goiny, of the CDU, said the local government should set up a coordination office to support application and approval procedures.

So far there has been little help from the Berlin government when it comes to securing locations or searching for new spaces for clubs, Goiny said.

Meanwhile, the Greens launched a proposal in the Bundestag recently to grant special legal protection to clubs and other venues for music. It states that clubs are cultural institutions and must be treated as such. This includes protection under tenancy law.

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

Nightlife in Berlin, which has around 700 locations and organizers, is an important part of the capital's culture and economy. In a study presented by the Senate Economic Administration in 2019, it was found the clubs offer almost 58,000 events a year with almost 71,000 performances by artists. In 2017 they achieved a turnover of €168 million.

Every third tourist comes for club culture

Every nightlife tourist spent an average of an extra €60 on his or her stay in Berlin, and every third tourist came to Berlin because of the club culture.

The scene generated an annual turnover of €1.48 billion last year. The clubs employ around 9,000 people, although only 30 percent of staff are subject to social security contributions. The CDU says that despite the positive influence of the clubs on Berlin, there is no institutional support.

Berlin residents reacted with sadness and shock on social media.

 
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