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Darwin: "I had been in Berlin for 5 years and was so tired of techno"

Photo by: Bex Griffin

It's time for the last REEF of the year. Playful spoke with party series founder Darwin about the journey from Griessmuehle to Berghain.

Tell us about REEF's roots. When and how did it all start?

REEF was born at Griessmuehle (RIP) in 2016. Esposito and I were already residents there since 2014, but we mostly played techno nights and weird after-hour slots in the garden. We are both huge fans of bass music and were slowly starting to introduce that more into our sets. By that point I had been in Berlin for 5 years and was so tired of techno. I had a dream to have a rave that went for 24 hours, but with all my favorite strains of bass music instead of the usual genres that filled those types of parties in the Berlin landscape. I pitched it to the owners and they let me try it out.

Looking at Berghain/Pano and their program, REEF is definitely standing out. Was Berghain always the goal venue?

Not at all. Griessmuehle was my living room and where I cut my teeth. I was very loyal to that club, but I left due to issues with the security there. Shortly after, the club ended up closing anyway, so I guess it was fate that it worked out the way it did. I knew the next step had to be a bigger venue with a sound system that could fully present my vision, so Berghain felt like an obvious option to try. Also, my flip from techno into bass music happened because I used to go to the Sub:stance parties that took place there, so I thought it might be cool to pick up the ashes they left behind and try to reignite that concept.

What would you say your events brings to the building, that differences from the typical Berghain bookings? Aside from an alternative to the sounds of Klubnacht, my community. Our crowd are extremely open to experimentation and they're a bunch of low end freaks lol. What defines the REEF team? Well the REEF team is just me ;P But Esposito has been my best friend, resident and partner in crime since the beginning. I think the most important thing we have as residents is a deep knowledge of how to open and close floors. We both have years of experience of playing bass music to people who don't like bass music, and also really understand how to program and play long nights.

What is one (or two) of your most magical memories so far?

I think the moment I'm the most proud of was when I put Insta:mental and dBbridge back together at Griessmuehle 10 years after the Autonomic movement. I also had the Sinai Soundsystem from Sheffield brought in for the night. The bass was so heavy we had to drill the bar down and stuff it with fibreglass so it would stop rattling, and we handed out ear plugs to everyone at the door. Mark Ernestus showed up at the soundcheck so he could check out the system, which was kind of iconic. It was a really magical night... The other big one for me is when we finally got to do both floors at Berghain, and it was busier than I could have ever expected. Everyone was so on point that night and Esposito played one of the craziest closing sets downstairs. He dropped one of my favorite tracks of all time - Omni Trio "Mainline (95 Lick)" and I just burst into tears. I'm really hard on myself, and I'm always looking forward, so it's very rare that I can stop and enjoy the work that I've done. This was the moment after 6 years when I finally was like "Fuck, I can't believe I pulled this shit off." I was really proud, and Esposito and I both cried at the end of the night in the booth when he finished. It's a beautiful memory I'll never forget. What can we expect this Friday?

I think this is one of my favorite lineups I've ever put together. I've been trying to get Lee Gamble over for years, and it's finally happening. Him and dBridge are two of the most influential and inspiring DJs for me personally. Djrum closing Pbar is an absolute dream come true as well.

What can we expect of REEF in 2024? 3 more parties that will pack enough bass to rattle your insides.


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