John Digweed & Hernan Cattaneo @ Arena Club Berlin

Grandmaster John Digweed is a rarely seen guest in one of the world‘s best cities for clubbing and fellow Argentinian top DJ Hernan Cattaneo has seen Berlin only from an airplane when flying over it. Hence reading both names plus Trentemøller and Tiefschwarz on one flyer for a party taking place in Berlin let one look first for a hidden camera. However, when December began it became more and more clear that the Kuduro Live Sessions are definitely no end-of-year joke and that with the lovely Arena Club one of Berlin’s most pleasant clubs had been chosen to be the playground.

No matter if music-culturally or humanely, there is nothing better than two cultures shaking hands and that’s exactly what the Team of Kuduro Live Sessions was trying to do when fielding Arena Club’s three floors. Except the small same name Arena Club floor the party was admittedly a bit quiet as at peak time some 100, maybe 120 people found their way to the Skull Room, the floor where Cattaneo and Digweed were set to play and where Tiefschwarz Ali’s  warm-up DJ set was already in its final throes.

The good side of a quantitative underperformer: There was plenty of space for dancing and when the technician-in-chief found the switch to give the sound system a better and much less mushy character, sound-wise the party suddenly even proved to be worthy for Cattaneo and Digweed, who both played a musically and technically marvelous set regardless of Berlin’s missing Kuduro attendance. Well, maybe the skull draped with mirroring sequins was a too big omen.

Hernan’s raised eyebrows, a man who I only know smilingly, expressed very well what think about that club night. Well actually it’s been an early club morning as both DJs were set to play a 2 hour set starting at 4 and 6 o’clock, two actually untypical set times for such heroes. Hernan’s concerns if people in Berlin do not like the music he’s playing are unfounded though since such set times are a slap in the face of all music lovers that would have loved to come along but who first and foremost would have to fight sleepiness instead of enjoying glowing dancing feet.

Berlin has got its own statutes and that’s good the way it is. Avoidable or not, planning mistakes get immediately punished tough and all too often for the disappointment of all. The really bad thing about such club nights is that top DJs of the Digweed and Cattaneo guild are of course sharing their experiences making Berlin becoming a kind of scorched earth; scorched earth better to keep away from. That however doesn’t reflect the city’s vibrant club scene entirely since Berlin is more than Berghain and Watergate, more than techno and deep house gentrification.

Artists like Digweed and Cattaneo definitely have big fans in Berlin; fans being able to set every club around on fire but setting two alarm clocks, catching sleep for a couple of hours and waking up in the middle of the night at 3 o’clock is definitely not their cup of tea. However, one big fan even brought Digweed’s almost entire discography in the club to ask John for signing it. The Bedrock label head was quite amused and hopefully also amused that Berlin definitely has some like-minded music lovers showing vested interest those guys’ work. On the other hand I am more and more understanding what Nick Warren said to me earlier in 2004, that he’s accepting Berlin gigs only when playing in the course of Paul van Dyk events…