Playing feelings: Lolsnake’s mood-inspired DJ sets speak directly to dancefloors

today15/03/2023 10

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After studying in the UK for four years, you moved to Berlin: how did you find the shift in club cultures?

When I was studying, I was going out to a lot of concerts, parties, raves and shows that turned into parties. We’d go to Liverpool and more undergroundy things, but the thing is the underground was not so frequent. I didn’t necessarily want to go to more commercial parties because I don’t feel necessarily safe at these events and they’d finish early. I was super young and really uncomfortable in more commercial places but we did have some really cute underground parties, [and] art spaces also. The ‘going out’ was where you’d buy tickets, and you would plan in advance, and there was only one thing happening that I was interested in every two, three weeks. It was less frequent but we’d always find something to do.

In Berlin, however, it felt like I was having nightlife for real. We have the luxury of hundreds of clubs; we have clubs in the city which could be the biggest in another city but in Berlin it’s whatever – another small venue here. There’s an audience for it: the audience here is more mature, clubbing is not like something you do in your early twenties. People are really passionate about music and I think on another hand, the Berlin club scene has these ‘safe spaces’. They’re not perfect ‘safe spaces’ – it’s not a walk in the park where you’re like “nothing bad could possibly happen”, but there is the privacy of having a no photos policy. No one needs to know you went out, there is no prejudgement when meeting colleagues or friends. Everyone is there for the same reason – at least for the most part – being music loving.

You’ve spoken about Berghain being so pivotal in forming so many relationships in the city, alongside other clubs. What do you think it is about Berlin that makes it so easy to nurture these bonds and create communities?

Sometimes when you have a busy life, especially when you’ve been wanting to meet specific friends but there’s maybe not been the time to do so, you’ll always at some point see them on the afternoon at that club. You’ll catch up and create bonds over the years.

There’s a sense of freedom and openness that you can’t find anywhere else – at least from my experience – where I feel like a big part of the queer community (and not necessarily just the queer community, but also the partygoing community) in Berlin have this tinge of ‘otherness’ that they may have felt, whether they were too nerdy, or had experiences like mine, or simply didn’t fit into wherever they were from. So, we all find ourselves in a little pot of club culture. I think there’s this understanding of each other and again there’s no pre-judge in that regard, no pretentiousness and snobbiness. It’s really at a minimum here. If you want to have a little freak out dance on the dancefloor, nobody is going to be like: “oh my god, what are they doing”, you know? It makes you wanna go back, and is very much a social space. Personally, I can just let loose and because of the opening times, the party is not ending. You can have a moment to really listen to music but then you can also spend two hours having a deep conversation with someone that you know, or an acquaintance you didn’t know so well but you can sit down in the club and have all the time in the world. You really, over the years, establish bonds in that way and I think that’s really special.

Community is important. I’m grateful for people being very open and giving opportunities, and not gatekeeping. People I worked with have given me opportunities and support and I really appreciate it. There are good people out there!

Read this next: How to have the perfect 24 hours in Berlin

I find it interesting how your first experiences of outwardly DJing – aside from the occasional low-profile rave – came hand in hand with the launch of your event, weeeirdos. How did the party come about?

At the time I had taken a short pause in partying too hard. I go to so many things: DIY shows, big parties – I just have a wide interest in music. There was a period where I was not partying – a short period – and a friend of mine called me, who was a small promoter in town who promotes more concerts and whatnot. I used to go to his shows a lot. He called me and was like “Danielle, I’m out of town, would you be interested in putting on an event?” I was like: “Er, what?”. I was younger, and not so secure, I never thought I could possibly do something like that. I agreed to it, and was like, why not? So then I asked three other friends to play at this concert. It was just a concert, maybe a DJ afterwards, and at the time I didn’t play. I invited everyone and it was really cute because I do a lot of drawing, painting, and make all the posters and visual graphics for my parties, so it was really nice to combine that as party promotion also. I did that at a DIY space here [in Berlin] called Internet Explorer and I was so nervous about risking 100 euros. I asked the artist to take the door split and everything was community focused. I was scared and that party happened, but because I had been going out and met so many nice connections in club culture there was a community that I had around me who came to the show and were supportive.

It was such a success and I felt really excited and got really hungry, so immediately after the party I was really pushy. I sent a million emails to so many different venues that I would’ve liked to work with and it was then that I found a rave location. Those parties, I was doing the bookings more to be FLINTA-orientated, having a preference on FLINTA [people who identify as Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Non-binary, Trans and Agender/Asexual], but including people that I respected in the scene and underground artists. We had Cera Khin and VTSS play the early parties, promoting and pushing people like that, a few years ago. Also, a lot of first-timer DJs, myself included.

When I started DJing it was really special to have those closing hours of a few friends left at the party just vibing and playing to them, that was really inspiring. I was working so much, so hungry to do more and it gave me so much pleasure. I was doing monthly concerts, promoting not necessarily electronic music, and doing raves, doing parties, eventually moving to OHM in 2018. It was quite nomadic. I did an event series called queeeirdos that I started with a friend of mine, which was spoken word and performance art. That was very nice because I just wanted to create spaces that were reimagining the event format. In the UK I was going to at least three shows a week and in Berlin the same, constantly out. I was more or less wanting to bring a new take on events in that regard and get time for myself and the community around me. It was really hectic as I was DJing at bars, had a part-time job doing bookings for a small venue here, the list continues. All of these things just didn’t pay so well, so I was hustling: I loved what I was doing, and it was all around nightlife, where I wanted to be.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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