When the Covid-19 emergency started five months ago, Berlin’s clubs were among the first places to shut down. But parties have never stopped in the German capital: secret raves are still being organized through Telegram. One of them had more than 3,000 people last weekend.
1. Telegram groups for party hunters
While waiting for a second wave of coronavirus, club’s doors remain closed. But that doesn’t mean that parties are over. It only means that they have changed location. During the Covid-19 period, parties are organized in forests, parks and dismissed buildings of Berlin. But how do people know where to find them? On Telegram chats it is easy to find all details about the upcoming raves, such as location and timing.
During the pandemic, several Telegram groups for party hunters were created. They can be accessed by invitation only and they range from 50 to 1,500 participants. In the largest ones, it is easy to find several addresses with parties for the same night, some of which last for an entire day. And secrecy is part of the attraction too. All these private chats, GPS-coordinates and rave hunts add more excitement.
2. The risk of mass events
In Germany there are no clear regulations about self-organized parties. No one knows how many people might attend them. If police officers find illegal parties, they disperse them and, in some cases, participants might even get a fine.
Once a party turns into a mass event, it could indeed become dangerous. According to Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, head of virus diagnostics at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, accumulations of large groups of people are correlated with an increased risk of infection. This means that if outdoor parties turn into mass events, they become dangerous for public health.
“The virus spreads via droplets. We easily expel these droplets by singing, cheering, and screaming. Other people can then inhale these droplets and become infected,” explains the virologist. He says that even during outdoor events people should keep the security distance or possibly wear a mask. Only in this way it is possible to prevent infected individuals from infecting others.
One of the most famous Berlin’s locations for rave parties is Hasenheide, which is a park in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood, south-east of the capital. There, spontaneous open-air parties have always been an important part of summer nights. But with the clubs still closed due to the virus, Hasenheide has become a mecca for legal and illegal parties. At late night the park turns into a big open-air music festival. There is enough for anyone: not just techno music, but also 90s music or modern pop. Unfortunately, face masks and social distancing are unknown concepts for the crowd. According to the police, last weekend Hasenheide hosted a party with more than 3,000 people.
“It’s only a party and we just want to dance. After all, it’s summer and we are tired of this pandemic. We don’t pose a threat,” says someone from the crowd.
4. Asking mayors for legitimacy
The Berlin Club Commission, an official organization representing the clubs, is urging district mayors to allow them to organize legal open-air parties. The Commission has prepared a list of some open spaces across the capital that could host up to 200 people. According to Lutz Leichsenring, member of the Club Commission, this will help to control parties and keep track on the participants. “This way, organizers will follow the hygiene measures, and will prevent people to throw illegal open-air parties,” he added.