On the 9th of April in Bochum, a small and unassuming city in the industrial Ruhr area of West Germany, a crew of dedicated musicians and artists held their opening night at a new, intimate club (with a killer Funktion-One sound system) called Schumacher Club. I spoke to one of five people behind Schumacher Club, about the scene in Germany, Bochum and their hopes and dreams for the new venue.
Berlin’s central role in German club culture is hardly a new phenomenon. The history of the german capital is and always will be unavoidably intertwined with the history of electronic music in Europe and global clubbing culture. For the team behind Schumacher, the dominance of Berlin in the German scene has been a lifelong source of frustration. “Growing up in the West there are so many cities, Düsseldorf, Essen, Bochum that are really close together, but not the club culture that you get in Berlin. For us it was always like: damn man, we’re in Germany but we can’t even get 10% of what is going on in Berlin…”
This frustration is familiar to anyone who grew up on dance music in a city that lacked the opportunities and excitement of a capital. The team’s excitement and pride in being able to open their own place to put parties in hometown is completely understandable. Bochum has been deprived of a reliable and adventurous underground club for decades. “There is a history of clubbing in Bochum but you have to go back 20 years. There was a club call Planet, Sven Väth, Derrick May, Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, all of those old school pioneers played there when they were younger. It was fine for a few years but then they had to shut it down (in 1999).”
Schumacher is the result of a coming together of three different parties in Bochum: 200 deep, Arrow and Extended, all of which bring a different kind of sound to the table. “The guys who run the 200 deep party are into their deep, minimal and techy stuff as well as techno. Arrow is more that Katermukke sound, a little more alternative, indie underground house music. Extended is about house… all about long sets of good music.” Starting in June they will also be running a new night 3 times a year, called Repetition, which focuses on techno. Ostgut Ton‘s Boris and Blind Observatory are already confirmed. I notice that for the Extended opening night, which takes place in 2 weeks the team have 2 Romanians (Alexandra and G76) on the bill. “Its not really an image thing, we chose the opening djs out of passion. I chose Alexandra because she is just such a great selector, a great musician. She doesn’t just play that Romanian, micro minimal thing. No, she plays good house music; she goes to Detroit, Chicago and then back to Berlin. Great selector.”
The fifth member of the team, is an artist and graphic designer who so far has contributed to the flyers for the club. The plan is to expand this side of the groups creative output. “From the beginning we had the feeling that we wanna do more with the graphics part than just promoting the parties. We wanted to work with canvas, prints etc. that we will probably sell as limited editions, little exhibitions, minimalistic stuff that fits into our kind of work.” You can find some of their work here.
The crew will be taking it in turns to hold their respective parties each weekend. “Before now we used to hold the parties in all sorts of different locations – rooftops, woods, illegal parties all over the place. We all knew each other and respected each other. But we got it together in the last two years really since 2014. Now here we are, next weekend!” Was it difficult? “Depends what you define as difficult, there’s a difference in styles and a limited amount of Saturdays a year.” Despite differences, the team is united by what seems to be a really strong desire to create a platform for the growing scene in Bochum. “The scene used to be quite small. In the last 4 or 5 years it’s really come up though. I missed that because I was in Dusseldorf working for Desolat, but I came back and saw that the scene had grown and I saw what the others were doing here. It amazed me, its great to have your home city amaze you like that. That drives us all.”
From what they tell me, I get the sense that the ethos behind the club is as much a dedication to Bochum as it is a musical platform for the team behind it. At the end of the day, it sounds like Bochum really needs a club. “To be honest, I think if we hadn’t done it someone else would. The audience is here. Bochum is a student city, with a big university with great people coming in from around the world… plus the growing local underground scene. The scene is already there, the club is a necessity, opening Schumacher is about filling that gap.”
Schumacher’s booking policy and long open-ended parties give the place a lot of promise. They brought Samu.l and Primarie to their opening party on Saturday and already have Alexandra, Yone Ko and Kashawar booked for the next two months. I get the impression that the team have a lot of faith in what they are doing. “This will be good for Bochum. We have a Funktion-One and the manual light system is looking awesome. We took care of these things first so that it would allow us to book the kinds of artists we want. We have a great lineup already confirmed for 2016. Excitement!”
Schumacher club no doubt represents a new chapter in Bochum’s clubbing culture. It’s refreshing to see positive things happening in places outside of the established centers, growing organically from groups of friends running small unofficial parties, going on to open venues of their own and expand their creative output. In this case it seems like developments in Bochum have been a long time coming. “After nearly 20 years we all feel like finally a venue is coming back that gives us more than just one specific party every few months. And when I say we I’m not just talking about the collective behind Schumacher; I’m talking about the whole scene here.”