By: Filip Sandström Beijer
Photos: Henry Belasczesckul for Marta PR
The 75-year-old techno influencer is currently surviving on his memories from his wild pre-pandemic days. Now he can’t wait to resume ecstatic dancing with his fellow rave Berliners.
Günther Krabbenhöft is probably Berlin's best dancing 75-year-old and one of the city's biggest joy-spreaders on social media.
And for me, coming from the countryside, life in Berlin was very exciting.
Moving from the countryside and a small village outside of Hannover to Berlin in 1968, Günther Krabbenhöft arrived in a city split by a wall.
“Berlin has always been changing. This city is never finished. When I came to Berlin in 1968, it was still a walled-in front city that was only accessible only by plane or in a complicated way via roads through the GDR. And for me, coming from the countryside, life in Berlin was very exciting.”
In Berlin there were restaurants, clubs and bars that caught Günther’s attention, but as a family father he lived what he describes as a relatively normal life, watching what happened in the leisure and party sector as the city developed. Today he’s personally connected to that scene, something that became an ingredient in his life quite late.
“When I first moved here, I was married and had a family, so I didn’t go to clubs
that much. That only happened much later, around 19… Oh my god, let me think… Maybe 12 years later, that’s when I started diving into the clubbing scene, which was a real
When Berlin was still split by the wall he describes West Berlin as a smaller community easy to get an overview off.
“We went to the hippest bars and discos in Berlin, for example the “Dschungel”, and we knew who we would meet there, and who were the important or interesting people who were dancing in certain other discos. Of course, there were always a handful of the coolest places, but the “Dschungel” was the bomb for me personally, and that’s where I went.”
This was a situation where much was possible – illegal clubs started to emerge, parties that were only announced shortly in advance became common…
After the fall of the wall, when the eastern and western parts of the city united, a lot of new places opened up and Berlin quickly changed.
“This was a situation where much was possible – illegal clubs started to emerge, parties that were only announced shortly in advance became common… All these things were opening up, and it was a crazy exciting time.”
“Right now, I am surviving only on memories of those wild days of the past.”
As for most of us, 2020 was a year of unpredicted change with the pandemic. For Günther Krabbenhöft, who luckily kept busy with his debut book release.
”It was hard for everyone, and for me as well. In 2020, I was in the last phase of the publication of my book “Sei einfach Du” (“Just be You”). I was very busy with that, and initially I was only noticing the restrictions in the periphery, because I was so immersed in my project. Of course, we could all feel the limitations, but there were still possibilities. I didn’t feel like it was too hard for me. In summer, there were still some events where we could dance, while sticking to hygiene rules. At some of these events we had to wear masks. There were restrictions, but still it was possible to do things.”
“At that point, I was really focusing on thinking positively, on how we could adapt and make the best of this new, different situation. This freed up new thoughts and energies as well. Meeting friends and staying busy with my project is what helped me the most to keep up my good mood. So, I didn’t feel that this was a problem for me during that period.”
If 2020 was a year that caught us off guard, 2021 is a year of hope. We’re looking into a spring and summer with open airs and hanging out with friends again. Günther can’t wait to visit friends and family, but he also longs for clubs and dancing.
“I will definitely do some wild, ecstatic dancing with hundreds of people who love raves, techno and house music as much as I do. I’m so much looking forward to being part of an ecstatic crowd again and that feeling of being carried by the music and being shot into outer space, and then blissfully coming back down to Earth after many hours, having this feeling that I always used to have after a great night of clubbing: floating like a hovercraft and just thinking: ‘Wow, how amazing is this feeling, to be able to experience the music and these ecstatic moments together with so many people!’ This is what I would love to do as the very first thing!”
Sometimes Berlin is like a slightly rough friend, who can drive you crazy
Living in Berlin for so many years, Günther’s persona is connected to the city. He doesn’t praise Berlin for its esthetics but for the people living here and creating it.
“I think the best thing about Berlin is the people! It’s the people who make
Berlin what it is. Of course, Berlin has many nice places, but it’s not in itself a beautiful city. It’s an exciting city, and it’s so special mostly because of the people who live here. I always say this, this is the unique thing about Berlin. Coming together with the people here, the exchange and the spirit – that’s what I love about Berlin. Sometimes Berlin is like a slightly rough friend, who can drive you crazy, but at the same time makes you feel so much love and can give you so much affection! That’s how I see it, and that’s what Berlin is for me: Berlin is simply the best!”
In other interviews Günther is often referred to as the “hipster grandpa”. We’re asking him what he thinks of the nickname.
“I find this a little silly, I don’t know who came up with this idea to call me a hipster Grandpa. I have a picture of a hipster in my head, and it’s a cliché, it’s putting someone in a box. A hipster is someone with a manbun and a fixed-gear bicycle and an organic cotton carrier bag over his shoulder. No, that is definitely not me.”
But once the media have given you a label like that, it can be really hard to get rid of it – something he experiences.
“On top of that, someone also claimed that I was 104 years old, which only added to the hype! And I was just thinking: ‘Oh, great…’ At the beginning I was annoyed and tried to correct the facts, but then I thought: ‘Wow, if I can be 104 and still have so much fun and joy in life, then – yes, I would like to be 104 and live the kind of life that the media is ascribing to me’”
As a long–time Berliner in love with the rave and techno scene, Günther’s club memories abound. Most of them involve meeting new people. But there is also some naughty stuff that he insists on keeping to himself. When we try to push him, we get the answer:
“You see… That’s a question where I have to be careful not to get myself into a sticky situation… My wildest memories are not appropriate to be printed, and I do not want to make them public. The wildest memories are always the ones you prefer to keep to yourself, or maybe only share them with your very best friends. They don’t belong in an interview. Otherwise, the interview would get censored, if I was to actually, tell you my wildest memories. So, I’m going to remain silent on this and just enjoy my memories.”