Berlin Parties for a Cause
If you want to raise awareness and actually help relieve some of the injustice and pain happening all over the globe it is easy to feel dismayed. All the more important it seems that one uses the talents and tools that are given to you to change something. Berlin loves a good party. What better way could there be than to involve the local community of electronic music lovers and makers to raise awareness and money by doing what we do best?
For those who haven’t heard of it yet, It’s Bigger Than is a Berlin-based collective embracing a conscious and practical relationship between the electronic music community and global social issues. The profit of the events they throw have so far all gone to Save the Children’s Syrian project. With the support of renowned DJs such as George Fitzgerald, Catz’n’Dogz and Steffi, It’s Bigger Than was able to stage a spectacular party at Prince Charles last year whilst paying homage to a worthy cause.
On the 24th of March they will renew their effort, putting on a full day event with a record fair, clothes stores, food market and bbq during the daytime and the sounds of Berlin DJs Marcel Fengler, Nick Höppner and Deepchild guiding us through the night.
Whilst finalising their last preparations, organisers Dan and Lisa found the time to answer some questions:
What spurred you to start Its Bigger Than?
Dan: I was originally moved by reading a report of refugee children, produced by Save the Children and printed in the UK online newspaper, The Guardian. I was shocked not only by the depravity of the situation and the harrowing accounts given by the young Syrians, but also by how under-represented this had been in the media. As such I thought what it was I could do to raise awareness and start fundraising projects in the local community. It was at that moment I called Lisa and we started putting together the frame work for It’s Bigger Than.
Lisa: When Dan called and we started putting the idea together – we realized that getting the frame work to promote one event was going to be pretty complicated. So, why stop with one? We could use the infrastructure from each event and the back office to keep putting on shows plus get people involved in the day to day activities.
Is there an already existing history of interaction between the Berlin electronic music scene and social issues in which you wanted to integrate yourselves?
Dan: Not really, in fact there’s a huge gap that needs filling. For me, coming from England this was a huge surprise as the electronic music community are fully engaged in social, political and global issues. Not to say that it’s never happened in Berlin, indeed the reaction to the Japan Tsunami by the club scene was immense and unprecedented. We want to build on that and take it to the next level and encourage clubbers, promoters and DJs alike to begin launching more of their own fundraising and awareness initiatives.
Lisa: There has always been an interaction between musicians and social issues. However there wasn’t one we could see in Berlin specifically focusing on the electronic music scene and the social issues within the wider world – But as Dan says, in the UK every Friday and Saturday there will be some fundraising, awareness night going on within walking distance, and we couldn’t see why this shouldn’t work here.
What made you choose this specific cause?
Dan: With what’s happening in the world at the moment one has to ask, where does one begin and can one tackle all the world’s problems? The Syrian crisis however is one of, if not the biggest humanitarian crisis on the planet right now. With overall 1 million refugees distributed amongst refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, with no end in sight, this is a huge plight that requires all of our support. And what with the political element that is drawing the attention of the majority of the news network’s time, most people are forgetting the humanitarian crisis which is where we step in.
Lisa: Dan and I talked about focusing on another crises for this event (the last one we focused on Syria as well) – but as Dan pointed out, the situation has worsened since our last event. We wanted to continue to draw attention to the crises the children from Syria are facing. It’s too big to ignore right now.
How do you think Its Bigger Than functions to create awareness of global issues?
Dan: We raise awareness through our community, which for us is the Berlin music community.
Lisa: People look to Berlin for inspiration from the music scene here – we do have a lot of people abroad who look at our line-ups and see what the cause is for and are impressed by the billing, so it’s beginning to trickle out. We also help with ‘disaster fatigue’, most of us wake up, read a newspaper and think there is nothing we can do. But, by providing a platform for people to get involved – be it Djing, or doing the door, donating clothes, selling pizza, updating facebook, or coming and dancing, we are giving people a chance to feel that they can make a difference – that they can do something. Hopefully then they will feel more enabled to read the news and think about positive change.
Do you hope that by making an international gesture you will also be able to infect the club scenes of other cities/has this already been the case?
Dan: We are working one step at a time to achieve our immediate goals. Our primary concern at the moment is to raise money for those who’ve been displaced by conflict, to send clothing donations to refugee camps and to raise awareness in our immediate community. If our work allows us to take this message on to a global level in the future, then all the better.
Lisa: We aren’t ruling out taking it global – but we need to nail it here first!
How has the work with the DJs been? Have you found that they share your concerns?
Dan: The response from the DJs has been fantastic, we couldn’t ask for more. Everyone we’ve approached has been super excited by the project and extremely grateful that they’ve been able to contribute. Some have even asked to be kept on board for other events. From our last party I remember Steffi commenting upon after she played that she was surprised to have never done such an event before, but because she had enjoyed playing so much she really couldn’t imagine not playing another event again.
Lisa: It’s been overwhelming. When we first wrote our tag line ‘Local Artists – Global Change’, I don’t think it really occurred to us that our ‘local artists’ were Nick Höppner, Marcel Fengler and John Osborn, etc. So, it’s humbling when you realize that you’ve just asked an international DJ if they can play for free – to support a relativity unknown crisis that they have little if no connection with and they say yes, and ask what else they can do!
What can we expect of the next event at Prince Charles?
Dan: Great music, excellent vibes, some fantastic food (if you haven’t sampled the food from Tim our resident Pizza cook then it’s a must), a record fair with all 12″s donated by those featuring on the line up, some state of the art visuals supplied by the Transforma VJs and finally, if you haven’t been to Prince Charles yet you need to know that it has one of the best bars out of all Berlin’s night clubs and they’ll be providing a special mixed drink for It’s Bigger Than on the day.
Lisa: Two very special Dj sets from a couple of amazing secret guests, oooohhhh – so many things, but the main thing is a great party.
Words by Charlotte Thiessen.