"This is the Berlin mentality. A lot of things are not allowed but the city is tolerant. An atmosphere like nowhere else."
Tino (25), a dentist’s assistant from Berlin, and Gideon (24), an event-management student, are the owners of Glück im Ohr. They organize parties and gatherings around Berlin.
How did the idea of Glück im Ohr come into existence?
Tino: Gideon and I are best friends and we decided to move in together when we were 21. We are two totally opposite personalities but there is one thing that we have in common; we love to have company, to invite people, to throw parties and dinners. It was not long after we moved into our flat in Charlottenburg that the neighbors found out who these loud new neighbors were. We started to organize our open-airs because of them. There are so many young people in Berlin who would like to listen to loud music but cannot because of their neighbor.
How did Glück im Ohr start?
We had been thinking about the idea for quite some time already. Our first thought was; ‘How does business work?’, and the main answer to that is; ‘Buy cheap, sell expensive’. We started to have a little business in selling beers on Ku’damm (Kurfuerstendamm, Berlin) at night. We bought the beer for 50 cents and sold it for more. That is how we made money that we eventually could invest in a generator. A generator is the first thing you need if you start to organize open-airs.
We planned our first open-air in 2014 on a location where nobody could complain. The fact that we had been throwing a lot of parties at home, made things easier. We welcomed 100 people, it was a success. Not long after that we planned our second open-air, not quite as successful… Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. It was a good lesson. We learned a lot from our mistakes back then. First thing we learned was to always have a plan B for everything. We started to become more professional.
From open-airs to inside locations
In the early days we used to squat places. One time the police came. Around 20 agents, heavily protected with dogs came in and asked around: ‘Who is responsible for this party?’. At first they were very strict and wrote down our names, but in the end they were impressed as well. One police officer asked if we could help him organize his own birthday party. This is the Berlin mentality. A lot of things are not allowed but the city is tolerant. An atmosphere like nowhere else. It has its roots in the time after the fall of the wall. The free youth back then took over abandoned buildings and organized illegal parties. There was a lack of authorities that controlled which enabled them to do whatever they wanted. They celebrated freedom. This attitude remains still today.
Tino: I was cycling through Moabit (neighborhood in Berlin) and found an awesome bunker. When I got in touch with the owner he told me that I could rent it, but the costs were very high. We came together with a group of people. We checked the place out, got really excited and chose to rent it anyhow. The team existed of a bunch of talented people. Stepping into a big project like that required a lot of courage. We took a risk with renting an expensive location, investing in beers and had to rent security. We invited all our friends on Facebook and it went viral. People had to stand in line and eventually security needed to send people home.
What do you want to give to Berlin?
Giving all kind of people the possibility to party without bothering anyone. So many people come to our parties. We do not have a door policy like at all the big clubs in Berlin. Everybody is able to join.
It is a form of art. Not a crime.
What are the main obstacles you encounter with Glück im Ohr?
To plan an event legally costs a lot of money in Berlin. The permit costs more than 300 euro and you need to wait 8 weeks for approval. There are rules about everything. The number of toilets, trash bins and other hygiene policies. You need to have a permit to officially sell beer. We do have a solution for the last one, ask people for a solidarity amount instead of a fixed price. Being illegal has its upsides as well. It make things exciting and it has a special kind of charm to secretly find the location with a big group of people. That is a huge part of the fun. We think that we give value to the world with our parties, it is a form of art. It is not a crime.
How will you continue?
Being in contact with the police is not encouraging. We asked ourselves if we should just quit. We enjoy squatting places and making illegal parties, but it is difficult and full of risks. For now, we decided not to stop and to take steps towards a more legal way of throwing parties. Our friends Jan and Amadeus are part of the team as well. We are in the known grey zone at the moment.
Gideon: I do not like the name actually. Tino: I like it.