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Mai oh Mai – A Quick Party Guide to May 1st in Kreuzberg

By Brendan Power . April 29, 2014

mayday1Photo credit: Timor Kodal

Traditionally associated with labour day, and later protests and riots, more recently the 1st of May in Berlin has become a firm favourite in the already crowded Berlin party calendar as people “Tanz in den Mai!” or “Dance into May” in front of dozens of open air sound-systems. On the streets of Kreuzberg in particular, where riot police presence is always ramped up, revelers and rioters blend to form a swarm of activity, be it to party, people-watch, or protest. To help you figure out whether this is something you should get involved with, we’ve listed some of the better parties below. To get right into the middle of things, I suggest getting the U1 line to Goerlitzer Bahnhof, which will drop you right into the centre of the action and within walking distance of all the parties mentioned below.

may1                                                                                                                                                                                               ©Thomas Neukum

Spreewaldplatz
Less crowded than nearby Oranienstrasse, Spreewaldplatz is a quaint leafy square which seems purpose built for inner-city raving on May 1st. In years gone by, I myself had the enormous privilege of being involved in many of the parties on this platz (pictured above) for the now sadly closed Kleine Reise club, and it was always one of the highlights of my year. Nowadays for me, its like that one house you grew up in as kid but that is now lived in by strangers, as a different bunch of peeps are putting on this party under the venue’s new name, Bassment.  The guys next door at Locke Mueller continue the beats with the 6th installment of their version of events, which you can read about here.  In recent years multiple other parties have popped up on the other side of the square and this year is no different with this little number looking like a solid bet, and who knows, this party could end up quite near to the platz also, as the location is still unannounced.

Last year my friends and I accidentally ended up outside of Pic Nic 34, a smaller, less hectic set up just 100m away from Spreewaldplatz with great music, and it should be well worth checking out again this year.  Next door in Goerlitzer park, a few people have been known to attend the raves that pop up in there, an more have been forecast for this year, so it is definitely worth a look.


Oranienstrasse/MyFest
Normally a short 3 minute walk from Spreewaldplatz, on Mayday it can take an hour to get even half way down Oranienstrasse, as it gets insanely crowded right from the start on the corner with Skalitzerstrasse, where the folks at Core Tex remind us that Kreuzberg and May 1st were Punk before they were Techno. This also marks the beginning of the MyFest part of celebrations which continue down Oranienstrasse, and which is run kind of like a proper festival with security, branding, wristbands’n’shit. Nestled in between all the madness at the apex of Oranienstrasse and Adalbertstrasse, the popular bar Luzia pulls out all the stops and hosts a barnstorming bash of electronic music,  this year featuring, among others, Chicago house legend Tyree Cooper, and friend of Berlin Loves You, Mr. Hrdvsion. Check out the video above for a taste of what to expect.

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The Best of the Rest
It would take an age to list all the parties and goings on on May 1st in Kreuzberg, so with no disrespect to others, we’ll finish with just a few parties that have established themselves as May 1st strongholds or hot new kids on the block for 2014. Farbfernseher always provide a refreshing and intimate party in their back garden, and this year is no different, while Club der Visionaere have their annual sardines-in-a-can bash featuring god knows how many secret superstar DJ performances. For something less crammed but equally hopping head to the nearby Hoppetosse, where Hotflush Records go head2head with the guys from Oye Record Store at this shindig and the Bite Club gang provide the delicious edibles. This one even morphs into an all night party later at a different venue if you’re still standing.

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No matter where you end up on Thursday you are sure to find plenty of action, and it might be none of the above that you like best, sometimes the friendly sound-systems outside of spaetis are the most fun, but be warned, even if you are only looking to enjoy the music and soak up the atmosphere, there is always a small risk that you accidentally cross paths with a protest or riot. This is a street party for sure, but this day also attracts the more extreme elements of society who are not shy when it comes to using violence towards the authorities, or destruction of capitalist property to make their point, with banks often the target. Prepare by searching for news online of the protest routes before you leave, and if you do cross paths with any of these, don’t do what I did my first year, and stand too close to the police, all the while wondering why people are throwing massive rocks in my direction. Stay safe and have fun friends!

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Photo credit for final 3 shots: Keisha Lee Engelen

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