Techno-Trip to Tresor, Berlin

Techno-Trip to Tresor, Berlin

Trip to Tresor, Berlin. The club that never sleeps.

From its humble origins in a small bank vault on the old east side of Berlin, to birthing a techno subculture revolution, the significance of the club and its importance in the development of techno cannot be underestimated.

With the motto ‘Tresor never sleeps’, Tresor has proven itself a true survivor over three decades and become synonymous with the techno scene in Berlin. It has become one of the most iconic clubs in the world, renowned for its relentless soundtrack of hard techno, industrial, and acid.

Its influence can be seen in the music of electronic artists from all over the globe, making it a critical reference point for the genre and an ever-popular venue for those looking for a dose of pure techno.

Tresor Berlin

From Rubble To Techno Phenomenon

Tresor’s roots reach back to West Berlin’s subcultural niches starting in 1988 when the electronic music label Interfisch opened the Ufo Club. The club had rapidly become a focal point for Berliners wanting to explore the new exciting wave of Acid House sounds coming from America via British shores.

After the closure of the club for financial reasons, Dimitri Hegemann and a loosely banded group of investors found a new space in East Berlin. The vaults under the Wertheim department store were deemed as the perfect location despite having no electricity or running water (not to mention a serious damp problem).

The club opened its doors in March 1991 in the vaults of the former department store next to the Potsdamer Platz. At the time, broken slabs of the Berlin Wall lay prostrate on the hardscrabble, and the city was going through a tumultuous period of reunification. However, groups of youths from the East and West began to explore the opened-up territories previously forbidden to them, eager to discover new music and stimulating experiences.

This combination made it the perfect moment for the formation of Tresor. With the younger populaces newfound freedom, little police presence or curfew and spaces readily available the moment was ripe for the explosion of the techno sound in Berlin.

Within a short space of time it had galvanised punks, goths, artists, DJs and eccentrics from both sides of the wall as the appetite for something new found root inside the confines of a dark sweaty bank vault.

Before long older clubs were making way for the new techno sound and the twenty four hour parties of Tresor would become not only the stuff of legend but a the blueprint for the nightlife of the city moving forward.

Tresor Berlin

The Tresor Imprint: Going Global

Tresor Records was founded soon after the club first opened in October 1991. It immediately curated a roster of techno artists from overseas such as Jeff Mills, Blake Baxter, Juan Atkins, Robert Hood, Drexciya, Joey Beltram, Surgeon, Pacou, Cristian Vogel, and many others whose sounds had already reverberated around the depths of club.

These artists helped to establish Tresor as one of the most important labels in the scene. Many DJs from the US were soon travelling to Berlin to play residencies at the club and spread the gospel of techno. Soon an alliance was formed between the cities of Detroit and Berlin that continued for the next three decades.

Equally significant were compilation series such as The Techno Sound of Berlin and the single Der Klang Der Familie, which became one of Germany’s first techno hits and was heard across the Love Parade in 1992.

Tresor Berlin

Closure And Rebirth

Tresor’s popularity continued as the club expanded and was reconstructed several times to include an outdoor garden area and a second “Globus” floor. The Tresor floor in the basement with its crimson red lighting and harsh industrial aesthetic was reserved specifically for hard techno, industrial, and acid music while Globus was designated for deeper house sounds.

However, in 2005 Tresor closed after several years of prolonged short-term rent. The city sold the land to an investor group to build offices on the Leipziger Straße location. It was open for each night of April 2005, with the final event starting the Saturday night with queues stretching all the way down the road, and still going Monday morning.

The closure of Tresor was a massive blow to the techno scene in Berlin. The club had been the heart and soul of the techno movement in the city, and its closure marked the end of an era. However, in May 2007, Tresor reopened in the decommissioned southern tract of the combined power plant Heizkraftwerk Berlin-Mitte in Köpenicker Straße. The new location was a fitting tribute to the club’s industrial roots, and it quickly became a popular destination for techno fans.

Tresor Berlin

Techno And Let Go

Step inside the club today and expect to be greeted by its trademark dark red glow and harsh industrial decor. Cages and metal grids run down the side of each dancefloor whilst a continuous blast of strobe lights juxtaposes the pitch-black of the power plant’s interior.

The beauty of Tresor (aside from the fact you can turn up at 6 am if you want!) is that it is the antithesis of the Instagrammable but ultimately sterile experience of many more commercially orientated clubs today. Instead at its pounding heart is simply music and release. At times you find yourself dancing submerged in total darkness or in a blur of lights that makes one person indistinguishable from the next.

The only thing to do in this situation is to let go, forget the world, forget the people and dance to Tresor’s relentless throbbing techno groove. Over its long lifespan the club has undeniably had its highs and lows but it stoically remains a stalwart in the techno scene.

Entering the club is an experience that remains unique and somehow pure. Many of the club’s founders now operate in a curatorial role across Berlin and the Tresor brand is involved in projects across the city, from festivals such as Atonal Festival to art exhibitions and multimedia installations. Nevertheless, if you want a dose of Underground Resistance, Jeff Mills and a fierce soundtrack to just let yourself go to, then Tresor maintains its magnetic pull some thirty years later.

Tresor Berlin

Tresor: True Stories

If you want to find out more about Tresor. Check out the brand new photo book, Tresor: True Stories. which looks at the phenomenon of the club through multiple narrators.

Tresor: True Stories is a compilation of over 400 rare photos, flyers, and documents from the early days of the label, the initial UFO club, and Tresor’s opening in 1991.

Tresor Berlin
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