A new trend sees the logo "Wasted German Youth" appearing on t-shirts, stickers, albums and at events around Berlin. While its message may seem fun and trivial, the business behind it has higher goals.
Is Germany's youth going to waste?
The city of Berlin - like most of the rest of us - invests in making a positive first impression on visitors, and the thousands of young Berliners donning the viral slogan "Wasted German Youth" aren't helping paint a pretty image.
It is a growing trend - and apart from t-shirts, the slogan can also be found on stickers and club posters all over the city and around the country.
Artist Paul Snowden, the designer behind "Wasted German Youth," wanted his creation to reflect the rave-party lifestyle that gives the German capital its edgy reputation.
"It's an attitude and a lifestyle that a lot of people in the city live day-to-day, and the city has received international recognition for the lifestyle," said Snowden, a native of New Zealand. "And I think it's a lifestyle that needs to be celebrated."
A spontaneous creation
At least there's lots of money to be made in the party business
However, the idea for the slogan was not the result of a complicated creative process.
"One Sunday morning in 1999, I thought 'these wasted German youth' - it was just an observation," explained Snowden. "Five years later I got the logo together and started printing up t-shirts for friends of mine - they were also DJs - so people just wanted the shirt. I used to photocopy the stickers myself at a friend's advertising agency and it just expanded from there."
Berlin-based DJ, recording artist and label boss Alex Ridha, known as Boys Noize, noticed the "Wasted Youth" stickers popping up all over the place, and he thinks that attitude has a lot to do with the slogan's popularity.
"[Snowden] was always the guy with the understatement of being not part of the system - kind of a rebel," said Ridha. "And I think a lot of people might not be like that, but they want to associate with this."
More than just fun
Considering this image, the latest development within the trend may be surprising for some. Titled "Rave Tut Gut" (a play on words meaning both "rave does good things" and "rave is good for you"), it involves the business donating proceeds to a children's cancer foundation. It has also set up a new method of hiring DJs for dance parties.
"We decided, 'Why not ask the kids?'" said Snowden. "Send us your mixes or upload the mixes to Facebook and we'll choose the best ones."
The slogan embodies a lifestyle
"It's really cool for an unknown DJ to be associated with something like Wasted German Youth," added Ridha.
So while Snowden and Boys Noize travel the globe with the "Rave Tut Gut" party, the DJs of the future are coming into the spotlight.
"It is not only a lifestyle - it's a business," said Snowden. "There are DJs flying around the world and they've become international names, you have designers and club owners and restaurant owners - and promote the parties. It is an industry - it's not just wasting away your life. It is a business and there's a lot of money involved."
While it may seem like just a party, or a silly logo with a few trivial words, perhaps being young, having a good time and doing what comes naturally is not such a waste of time after all. Plus, it makes Berlin what it is.
Author: Jonathan Gifford/ew
Editor: Kate Bowen