Munich Nights

This was fun music, joyous music, not the austere minimal techno of downstairs, or the jazzy techno of Jonson and Minilogue, or the hardcore techno that would inspire one to press the dwarf. The bass rattled the empty tin record bins behind the d.j.Nick Paumgarten, "Berlin Nights: The thrall of techno." The New Yorker, 24 March 2014.

To those who are into these sorts of things, the latest issue of The New Yorker has an essay on the techno music/club scene in Berlin (“Berlin Nights”). I’ve not been to Berlin, and the scene in the article is not my cup of tea, but I do enjoy electronic music and have managed to emerge from clubs bleary-eyed with ears ringing in cities ranging from Rio to Moscow.

The New Yorker piece brought to mind a relatively recent weekend layover in Munich that ended with a pretty sweet, impromptu techno music experience.

After traipsing past the Frauenkirche and strolling through the Marienplatz, I made my way to the Hofbräuhaus for a proper tourist’s lunch of bratwurst mit sauerkraut and beer. Food in belly it was time to climb the tower at St. Peter’s church to soak up a panorama of the beautiful Bavarian city.

After a couple hours’ meandering around town, I stopped in for a beer and a consultation with the guidebook when I remembered a recommendation to check out Augustiner-Keller by the train station. Might as well eat something.

Having shoveled another bratwurst down the hatch, I sat in the dim cellar contemplating whether to have another beer. Now’s a good time to mention Ich spreche kein Deutsch.I don’t speak German. Having settled on one more Augustiner Bräu, but — and this is the critical part — a half liter instead of another full liter, I then ordered in a confused blend of German and Spanish, “ein más…”

“Ein Maß!” The middle-aged couple next to me nodded in approval as the waiter returned with another liter. In for a penny, in for a pound.

(l) Frauenkirche from the tower at St. Peter's. (r) Ein Maß!

Climbing the stairs to return to the world of the living, my senses were assaulted: Holy shit, it’s still light outside.

Too early to tuck in, too late to take a nap, the only sensible course of action seemed to lie in pressing on…on to the next bierhaus, on to the next maß, on to freedom.

Some number of hours — and yes, bratwursts — later I decided to take in one last walk of the city before going to bed. Meandering along Munich’s streets I turned a corner to hear a 4/4 beat resonating off of the neighborhood’s facades. Like a hound dog on the scent of Andy Dufresne I made my way to the source of the thumping. Crossing the threshold of the entrance, the booming bass gave way to the synths and conversations, and to that familiar scene the world over: people laughing, having fun and breaking it down with their friends.

While no substitute for being there, this video captures the DJ’s pretty wicked remix of Still D.R.E.

Satiated, I made my way back to the hotel for a few hours’ sleep before catching my flight home. If you haven’t been to Munich, I highly recommend it; and if you’re not yet a fan of electronic music, maybe you’d like to cut loose and give it a try.