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Techno hedonism is high culture, says Berlin court

Techno mecca Berghain is now an institution of culture equal to museums, galleries and theatres following a landmark court ruling

By Jon Chapple on 12 Sep 2016

Berghain, Berlin, Phos4seven

image © Phos4seven/Flickr

As London mourns the death of Fabric and Chicago’s small venues fail to convince local authorities live music is fine art, some good news from Germany: A Brandenburg court has ruled that Berghain, the 1,600-capacity Berlin nightclub widely regarded as the world capital of techno, is a place of cultural significance and thus entitled to a tax break.

In the past Berghain (pictured) would pay tax of 7% on its earnings – the same rate as museums, theatre and concert venues. However, in 2009 German tax authorities decreed clubs should be taxed at 19% as regular ‘entertainment events’, reports Der Spiegel, arguing Berghain is a place where people dance, drink and take drugs – “ruled by entertainment, not by culture” – and could not be classed as a concert venue as it has no stage.

Taking their case to the financial court of Berlin-Brandenburg, club management hit back that the same logic could be applied to a classical concerto. Berghain’s line of argument evidently held water in the eyes of the court, which agreed the club hosts cultural events and should be taxed as such.


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