The blunt end of Berlin club culture

June 10, 2021
Berlin Bouncer is showing nationally as part of the German Film Festival.

Berlin Bouncer
Documentary directed by David Dietl
Featuring Sven Marquardt, Frank Künster, Smiley Baldwin
Showing nationally as part of the German Film Festival

Following the collapse of East Germany a vibrant alternative music and nightclub scene opened up in the old eastern part of Berlin. Abandoned buildings were squatted and creatively used for a new wave of freedom — which has survived waves of gentrification.

As shown in this documentary, the scene involves a huge amount of alcohol, drug and sexual excess.

The key people at the club front door, judging who has the right attitude to enhance the bacchanal inside are the bouncers, using good humour and persuasion, if possible, and more blunt means, if necessary, to dictate who is in and who is out. Berlin Bouncer interrogates the lives of three of the most famous of these now aging taste arbiters.

In a celebrity-driven culture, it was only a matter of time before bouncers would have their fifteen minutes of fame.

Two of them, Sven Marquardt and Frank Künster were born in the German Democratic Republic (DDR) and as one of them says the Easterners did not want to leave or destroy the DDR, they just wanted to see for themselves what the forbidden land over the wall was like.

Smiley Baldwin comes from the United States-administered Virgin Islands and escaped poverty by joining the US Army, as a Military Policeman — a great training for his current job!

This film could have been quite ridiculous. Even Künster describes his profession as “absurd”.

But as the camera slowly follows each of them, showing parts of their private lives and teasing out their values, their genuine passion for creating safe spaces in which people can fully express themselves is palpable.

Surprisingly, this is quite a moving and thought-provoking film.

The trailer can be seen here.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.