It was a warm July evening as I was walking towards perhaps the most notorious building – at least for us clubbers – of the German capital. I passed the formidable entrance, curved to the back of the massive concrete building and entered to an industrial hall, yet not the one the ravers usually enter on Sundays. I took the wide iron stairs up to a bigger hall, and sat down to gritty ground to waiting for “a collaborative contemporary ceremony” to kick off.
The ceremony was UY Zone, a one-time event taking place in the dusky Halle am Wriezener Bahnhof, also known as the massive “other half” of Berghain. Rarely open, the Halle usually hosts exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events inside its imposing establishment. For this very case, it opened its doors for a Berlin-based fashion label and art collective UY, whose first steps were actually (and literally) taken many years ago during some of the ever-lasting dance marathons at the infamous club.
Led by Idan Gilony and Fanny Lawaetz, UY has paved its way to a staple among like-minded Berliners with their genderless, club-kid-friendly, oversized and somewhat monochromatic offering. To celebrate its half-decade, the fashion creatives collaborated with the Halle and hosted a one-time event, soundtracked by multidisciplinary sound artist Dasha Rush. I was interested of the whole performance, but mostly I was curious to hear Dasha’s live composition in an environment so suitable I could not think about anything better (although her ambient live with cellist Shloss Mirabell at an old Crematorium in Berlin some weeks later was extra cool as well).
I actually got to enjoy the ceremony twice, as the visuals were not yet working during the press show. Thus, the first round featured the dancers, dressed in UY’s ethereal, gold-toned costumes, and me sitting next to a world-class Function-One in the eminent Halle. With the smell of incense floating in the air, I caught myself eyes closed, listening the delicate rustles, cracks, dark minimalism, ominous soundscapes and well-thought drops of bass Dasha was creating on a stage not far from where I was sitting. To soundtrack this kind of contemporary performance is not a new thing for the artist, by the way, as she has composed for various independent performances since her residence in Paris between 1996 and 2009.
The performance, as its soundtrack, were definitely an experience earning the self-acclaimed title “collaborative contemporary ceremony”. The intensity of the choreography, inspired by ancient Islamic dance ritual, was skilfully resonating with Dasha’s sound design, and the occasional vocals by Emre Zaim added to the hollow atmosphere. I thought about the famous scene of one of my all-time favourite movies, Stanley Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut, several times, not necessarily for the music but for the atmosphere. You must know what scene I am talking about.
The intensity of the music grew together with the movements of the dancers, submerging and peaking, adding layers of drumming, humming and other sounds I am unable to describe but just memorise during the time spent inside the Halle. The following night I attended the sold-out public event to see the visuals, and this time I was actually not able to see much else: the heaps of crowd blocked the view to the ground-level stage. But I didn’t mind, it was my second round already, but the last-arriving first-timers might have gotten disappointed because of the limited visibility.
Nevertheless, the collaboration between Dasha Rush and UY again proved the artist’s ability to create performances from mind-bending techno sets to soundtracks to ritualistic ceremonies like UY Zone. I consider the performance, as well as its soundtrack, as great one-time-experiences, and with such collaborations Dasha Rush also keeps her work interesting not only for herself, but also for her long-time followers.