Berlin institution KitKat Club ‘set to close doors’

KitKat, an iconic fetish club in Berlin’s nightlife scene, is threatened with closure, local media reported on Thursday.

Berlin institution KitKat Club 'set to close doors'
The KitKat Club premises in Berlin. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gobbler

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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Bavaria mulls reopening clubs – but only for the vaccinated

Bavarian revellers could once again be able to hit the clubs in their home state this autumn - but only if they've had their Covid jabs.

Bavaria mulls reopening clubs - but only for the vaccinated
Guests partying at the exclusive P1 club in Munich. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Nicolas Armer

Markus Söder, the Bavarian state premier, told his cabinet on Tuesday that he wanted to reintroduce much more freedom for the vaccinated over the coming months, according to a report on BR24.

This would include opening night-time events and clubs for the vaccinated in autumn, and allowing immunised people to attend sporting events without counting in the official attendance numbers. 

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

Since Thursday, sporting events in the southern state have allowed up to 20,000 attendees – around half the capacity of a football stadium.

People who’d been fully vaccinated could also avoid quarantining on their return from holiday – though it is unclear how this would differ from national rules that exempt inoculated people from quarantine when they return from risk areas and high-incidence areas.

Under federal rules however, vaccinated people must quarantine when coming from a ‘virus variant area of concern’.

The timeline for introducing the new privileges is still unconfirmed, though the clubs could reopen after summer.

However, Söder believes that much more young people need to get vaccinated in Bavaria for his nightlife plans to make sense. 

Markus Söder, Bavaria and CSU leader. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Jabs in shops, mosques and fast-food restaurants

The promise of getting to enjoy nightlife again isn’t the only way the Bavarian government is encouraging vaccination.

The state premier also wants see pop-up vaccination clinics set up camp in supermarkets, shopping malls, kebab shops, mosques, restaurants, pubs, and leisure centres. “Whatever works for each local area,” Söder said. 

READ ALSO: Car parks, job centres and festivals: How Germany is trying to get Covid jabs to everyone

In addition, mobile vaccination teams will head to markets, major sports events and businesses to offer spur-of-the-moment shots to anyone who wants one.

Meanwhile, the big state vaccination centres will become a lot more like drop-in clinics, with no appointment or prior registration needed for first-vaccinations. 

“The incentive to get vaccinated isn’t a currywurst or a beer,” said Söder, “The incentive is the ability to live a normal life again.”

Getting jabbed is the only way to “free ourselves from the Covid sword of Damocles,” he added. 

Söder has been considering ways to speed up Bavaria’s flagging vaccination drive for a number of weeks now as the state continues to trail behind the national figures

READ ALSO: Bavaria opens up Covid vaccines to all adults in bid to speed up jab drive

At present, 57 percent of people in Bavaria have received at least one jab, while 42.7 percent of the population are fully vaccinated.

On a national level, 58,9 percent of people have had their first dose of vaccine, while 43.7 percent are now fully immunised.