Is KitKat all about the famous Saturday nights? No. We met with the organisers of Four Play – a Friday club that is a little more colorful and open towards newbies. We went ourselves and we loved the vibe.
Photos by: Shir Zilber
Four Play, how did it all start?
About ten years ago, there was a line in Kitkat called "Hellektro", where one of us - Roy (DJ name "Tripolitan") - was resident. We used to frequent Kitkat, and found the scene to be quite exclusive and not so open. The outfits were mostly black leather or latex, people's faces were too serious, and since we always strived to take partying not so seriously, we hoped to create a new concept that will be friendlier, more open, more tolerant and patient towards newbies, more colorful and with a well-curated musical program. It took some time for the concept to form, and the first club that actually gave us the opportunity to try it, was Ritter Butzke, back in May 2016.
The parties in Ritter Butzke were great, but since the club isn't really associated with the sex-positive scene, it was quite a challenge to educate the crowd and even the staff. We had to become more and more exclusive at the door, until we decided that it was simply not the right place for it. Fortunately, about a year later we were able to restart the project in a more natural environment - Kitkat Club. Who is Four Play for? At first, the concept was based on 4 dance floors, each with an entirely different character, artistic content and musical style. In Ritter Butzke, the four dance floors are indeed very different from one another, the club had a good reputation for strong DJ bookings, and it was easy to create content that fit. So, at the beginning, Four Play meant playing in four different areas - whether it's the play button on the CDJ, or the playful interaction between the guests and the moderators/performers, and the guests between themselves. Nowadays, Four Play stands for the four partners that lead the project: Roy, Annie, Jonathan and Slawik. However, the Four Play is one of several parties run by the Section 8 crew - a beautifully diverse group of about 20 ravers that do parties in Berlin since a decade.
What would you say are the key differences between Four Play and the other club nights at KitKat?
The events in Kitkat are very different from one another. At first, when talking to our guests, a lot of them wished us to become like the Kitkat Saturday club nights. However, this wasn't and isn't our goal. Our party is different, since it is first and foremost built interactively. This means that we create content that engages the crowd and encourages our guests to experiment with the many aspects of the kinky lifestyle, without having to live it on the everyday, and without being part of a specific scene. In addition, we curate our musical program very carefully. There is a very clear distinction between the styles played on the different floors, and the DJs we book have a profile also outside the kinky scene. Nowadays, we have reached a point in which we have about 100 people working at the party, and we are happy to be able to include so many creative souls in the project. We also understood from a very early stage, that a sex-positive party must be a safe space, and we are proud to have a very dominant and professional awareness team, that makes our parties much safer.
What is important for you when creating a vibe?
First, the musical curation must be coherent. We believe in a development, a journey through the night, and a warmup set cannot sound like a closing set. There has to be a clear story that is being told by the DJs. Also, each floor must offer a different style. These are musical principles that define all our parties - not just Four Play. We try to engage a lot of people in our parties, and we work very hard on creating a pleasant experience for our guests. It starts with a large admission staff that is friendly, and continues with lots of performers and moderators that seek to engage actively with the guests, rather than to offer them a passive role. We call it "the kinkteractive experience", and we hope to create a place that enables each and every one of our guests the room and the motivation to experiment, to broaden horizons, and to feel welcomed and safe.
As a sex positive party, what is your recipe for a good and safe environment? It begins with the recognition that when hosting a big event with more than 1000 guests in it, you can't control everything that happens in the club, and that even the best most educated people can do foolish things when the chemistry in their blood goes wrong. The second step is to have as many eyes out there as possible, who can intervene and prevent unpleasant experiences from guests. It begins with our experienced crew members, who - even when just there for partying - keep an eye on things, and continues with a large awareness team that patrols the club and is trained to identify sensitive situations. With the years, the bigger the Four Play became, the more important the role of the awareness team got. Nowadays, we can't imagine having a party without a strong awareness presence, and I truly hope that more parties will follow this pattern. Parties must be as safe as possible, while also being as free as possible, and this contradiction is not easy to manage.
We heard some rumors that Four Play is not the only party you're creating... wanna tell us about Paradise Garage? Paradise Garage is indeed a new, beautiful sex-positive project of ours. Corona gave us all a lot of time to think. We thought about life and death, about economic stability and despair, and we also thought about the rat race that the Techno and House scene in Berlin had succumbed to. We thought, and we yearned for clubs to return, and for us to change things. Out of all that thinking and all that yearning, an important desire was born. We looked back at much purer years, and felt that it is time to take some steps back, towards our roots at this city's underground, and towards the roots of the music we play and love. The journey back in time stopped at a place that, for us, connected all the dots: Paradise Garage.
The famous New Yorker club, in which House music and Disco joined hands with hedonistic club-culture and safe spaces for minorities and LGTBQ. It was probably - more than anywhere else - the place that started the revolution of House music and the golden era of Disco. Since March this year, we meet on a monthly basis for a night that is solely dedicated to the musical style of Paradise Garage. We added a kinky touch to it, Berlin-style, and the party requires a dress code, similar to the one we enforce at the Four Play, and many performers that interact with the guests in the maze-like cosy Renate club. On one floor - pure House, on the other - old school disco. The lineup? Always secret. We want people to come for the party, not for the DJs. It's so amazingly colorful, and the small rooms make the party feel very intimate. Those who love our Four Play, will surely fall in love with the Paradise Garage. In addition, we run a Techno party in :// about blank for more than four years, called "Expeditions". Since we believe that a good party must always be more than just a nice club and good DJs, we keep trying to integrate more elements of performance and sex-positiveness into this party as well, and we are always open for cooperations and collaborations.
As promoters and organizers, what are your goals for your clubs in 2023?
I think the goal of every promoter in this city should be to be at all able to continue doing parties. Unfortunately, Germany is probably still the only place in the western world in which Corona is still an issue that threatens cultural and music events, not to mention the club-scene.
We wish to grow our existing projects, and to be able to include more creative people in them. We try very hard to fight for a healthier scene, in which DJs are not idolized, the fees remain sane, and in which a direct contact between the party organizers and everyone who performs in it remains unmediated by booking agencies. It's a lost battle, but one of our most important achievements is to create concepts that are relatively independent of the insane DJ-headliner rat race that our scene tremendously suffers from.
At some point, we hope to be able to spread the Four Play spirit to other places in Europe, perhaps by organising showcases or even entire nights in neighbouring countries. Also here - we're open for collaborations.