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Berlin techno on Germany's intangible cultural heritage list

Annika Sost
March 13, 2024

Germany has just added six new entries to its list of intangible cultural heritage, including Berlin's techno scene. The intangible cultural heritage designation is meant to preserve cultural traditions.

A person celebrates at the "Rave the Planet" techno parade with a poster reading -techno is my culture for UNESCO heritage-
Berlin is known as one of Europe's top nightlife destinations Image: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's federal and state culture ministers announced on Wednesday that it added six new entries to the German national registry of intangible cultural heritage, including Berlin techno. 

The German capital has become world famous for its vibrant techno scene. However, the Berlin clubs are still suffering from the aftermaths of the COVID-19 pandemic

Lutz Leichsenring, a member of the executive board of "Clubcommission" in Berlin, a network of clubs and cultural promoters, told DW that the designation was "another milestone for Berlin techno producers, artists, club operators and event organizers."

Clubcommission also supports the preservation and development of Berlin's club culture.

"The decision will help us ensure that club culture is recognized as a valuable sector worthy of protection and support," Lutz said.

What does intangible cultural heritage mean?

According to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage refers to mainly cultural forms of expression, which are directly linked to human creativity and traditions, and which people pass those on through generations and are constantly evolving.

This includes practices, rituals, knowledge, skills and performing arts such as music, dance and theater, which are meant to be preserved and kept alive.  

"Kraftwerk and African-American DJs and producers like Underground Resistance from Detroit, made a significant contribution to the creation and spread of techno culture," said Leichsenring.  

A line in front of Berghain at night
Berlin's world famous techno club Berghain is known for its strict door policy Image: Christophe Gateau/dpa/picture alliance

Loveparade co-founder Dr. Motte, and the team of the non-profit organization Rave The Planet are fighting meanwhile on putting Berlin's techno scene on the UNESCO cultural heritage list, which is separate from a national register of intangible cultural heritage.

This idea came from mathematician and musicologist Hans Cousto 10 years ago, and Dr. Motte and Rave the Planet have handed in an application in November 2022. 

Germany's national register of intangible cultural heritage was compiled by the German commission for UNESCO.

A national UNESCO commission is a cooperative body established by a UNESCO member state to facilitate connections between its governmental and non-governmental entities and the work of UNESCO. A national commission is distinct from UNESCO itself.

What are the other five entries in Germany?

Five other entries were added to Germany's national register of intangible cultural heritage in Berlin and the former capital, Bonn, on Wednesday.

Along with Berlin's techno scene, the Finsterwalde singing tradition was added. 

The "Kirchseeon Perchtenlauf," a winter parade in Bavaria where participants dress in furry monster costumes, was also added. 

"Schwälmer Weißstickerei," a tapestry sewing style from the state of Hesse, apple cider Viez, as well as mountaineering in Saxony, all made the list. 

"Whether subculture or traditional craftsmanship, all of this is part of the cultural wealth of our country," said Roth. 

Berlin: Capital of techno and club culture

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Edited by: Wesley Rahn 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Berlin techno was added to UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list. It was added to the German national registry of intangible cultural heritage. We apologize for the error.