Club Futurists

Few cities have made nightlife as central to their (brand) essence as Berlin has.
We are establishing Berlin, one of the world capitals of clubbing, as a living lab for Future Clubbing!

Exchange, Research, Ideation and Prototyping
2021, 2022

@ AgProp, Hybrid Space Lab, The Catalysts

A club of visionaries, catalysts and networkers aims to transform Berlin into an international laboratory willing to enter a prototyping phase, inviting the clubbing world to participate. Next to developing tangible ideas and concepts for a ‘better’ Club Future – for Berlin and beyond – the program aims to harness cooperations between industry, tech, science, societal thinkers, creatives and the arts to develop sustainable and inclusive clubbing practices. The program brings therefore representatives from the Berlin and international clubbing industry together withexperts, visionaries, and creatives from different fields.

Club Futurists addresses the multiple dimensions of clubbing and investigates the future of clubs as spatial-architectural venues, as content creators and as service providers, speculating on possible new models for clubbing. As the current challenges have confirmed, the clubbing world needs to revisit and adapt its revenue streams. Drawing on this, the program explores new business models incl. technologies supporting them that can help strengthen resilience, creating self-sufficient businesses which are sustainable in the long run.

With an explorative, creative and experimental approach, the program progressively builds up through a series of consecutive workshops and events that feed into one another. It addresses relevant aspects and dimensions of clubbing culture, shining a new light on upcoming promising challenges.

With digital acceleration having the potential to be a most impactful game changer in the future of clubbing, events and entertainment industry, the program first dives into and explores the potential of hybrid (combined physical and media, onsite and online) formats. Such explorations on Hybrid Clubbing, relying on the insights from tech-pilots, innovators, and pioneers, lead to speculating on possible Club Cultures, including new models for venues, reaching out to the wider clubbing community. This then expands beyond the direct clubbing industry, involving players from the tourism and hospitality business as well as from urban governance, forming synergies, fostering new collaborations and innovative, sustainable business models towards a Club Fu-Tourism.

Hybrid Clubbing

Starting from digital acceleration, the first workshop interrogates clubbing as transcending the scale of the human body, necessarily integrating networked, digitally powered experiences.

The pervasiveness and acceleration of the digital push have been amongst the most apparent consequences of the current pandemic, transforming physical spaces and experiences. Digital formats will continue to evolve, even when lockdown measures and restrictions are lifted. How is clubbing going to account to for the digital spaces and networks that have been the lifebuoy of social life for several months, blooming and unfolding next to physical spaces of cohabitation and encounter?

It is not only about whether we are happy with a mostly online social life. More importantly, it is support and shape meaningful social-cultural interactions, accounting for their longed-for spontaneity, richness, and integrative power.

Club Futurists explores and invites innovative tech solutions relevant to clubbing, such as wearables, gaming environments, VR and XR access to clubbing and speculates on future hybrid (combined physical and digital) clubbing experiences. Considering the primal characteristics of clubbing (movement, state of trance, sex and playfulness, etc.) that existed way before the digital revolution or even venues, it is important to address how to preserve these urges and motivations while introducing new concepts. Can technologies help reach “augmented” aesthetics and perceptions, creating unique atmospheres and enhancing immersive experiences?

Club Futurists also addresses general related further-reaching issues such as the relation between physical experience and digital identity. It questions, for example, the extent to which physical clubbing experiences are becoming just mere customizable building blocks for digital natives’ digital presence with onsite experiences becoming mostly and ever more crucially conducive to digital presence and performance.

*How is digitalization changing clubbing, and how can it be a radical drive to rethink clubbing as a more adaptable, versatile cultural practice?

*And what does the future of clubbing sound, look, and feels like?

Clubbing Cultures

Club Futurists reflects on and elicits responses from different clubbing (sub-)cultures, exploring clubbing (business) models and their long-term adaptability and sustainability.

With globalization and mass tourism, many clubs have reflected the wider trend, increasingly to the international mainstream event culture, reaching out to a less and less specified audience whilst expanding and diversifying performances genres and styles. Accelerated by the pandemic-induced crisis, economically powerful (global) players expand and progressively establish themselves in previously local markets, inaugurating clubbing franchising and integrating locally owned clubs into chains of the entertainment industry.

Club Futurists discusses these given trends and changes in the industry and also speculates on the chances of a more specialized, context-specific, genre-committed approach to clubbing as opposed to the mainstream of the entertainment industry. More specifically, an innovative integration of hybrid (combining physical venues and digital reach) elements into the clubbing experience has the potential to support clubs’ individual cultural flair.

As a far-reaching, long-tail type of effect of digitalization, clubs could regain genre specificity and character, developing their scene back by building up commitment to artists. Teaming up with diversified crews, strengthening identities deeply rooted in sub-culture and repurposing “authenticity” of the club experience could all be part of a wider expansive strategy. Such a strategy could also accommodate the integration with broader fields, such as “hybrid” exhibitions, cultural products and services, wellness and lifestyle consulting.

Considering the future of the clubbing experience, how are future clubs going to combine wellbeing, safety and health of club-goers, developing new clubbing concepts, such as “Health Clubs” or “Fitness Clubs”, addressing the needs of an ageing population of clubbing golden agers.

The future of clubbing also needs to be alert to and aware of clubs’ ecological footprint, pushing forward-looking, genuinely progressive thinking about the sustainability of venues and events.

More broadly, still, the current challenges have confirmed that the clubbing world needs to revisit and radically adapt revenue models, for instance by considering crowdsourcing and blockchain technology to create self-sufficient businesses which are sustainable in the long run.

Addressing the multiple dimensions of clubs as spatial-architectural venues, as content creators, and as service providers, the program investigates and speculates on possible new models for clubbing.

*How are the different clubbing (sub)cultures reacting to the current situation?
*How can clubbing business models be rethought to guarantee long-term adaptability and sustainability?

Club Fu-Tourism

Then, the themes stretch further, at the future of clubbing as interconnected to tourism and hospitality sectors and to urban development.

With tourism and travel being rethought and readjusted after the pandemic, the program speculates on new hybrid (business) models, connecting clubbing to hospitality and tourism. Addressing physical mobility prompted by clubbing in connection to other industries, it reaches out to a broader business ecosystem, fostering new collaborations and innovative, future-proof, business models.

Thinking about the scalable interactions between clubbing, cities, and regions, the program also engages with urban governance. Addressing topics ranging from the macroeconomics of the city to urban and regional branding strategies, the project asks how clubbing interacts with and affects urban gentrification as well as how the need for decentralization of tourist destinations coincides with shifting spatial hierarchies.

What happens to the urban fabric if clubbing moves to the periphery? How would this reformulate spatial cultural hierarchies of the city center and the suburbs? And how does clubbing affect perceptions of urban beauty, safety, wealth in specific spaces? How will it, in the future?

And as we see the city fabric being heavily affected by the current crisis, with urban voids encroaching and venues closing permanently, how can cultural practices reappropriate the newly freed up spaces? How can the concept of pop-up, autonomous and independent clubbing venues echoing the Berlin early ‘90s be made current and adaptive? What could the role of the municipality be in helping the clubbing culture flourish, shape up and thrive? In what capacity could the municipality be involved, and how?

*How can future clubbing be a driver for a low-impact, ecologically-minded future tourism and hospitality, promoting new collaborations and innovative, future-proof, business models?

*And how can fu-tourism support sustainable urban development?

Exchange, ideation and prototyping program initiated, co-curated and co-organized by AgProp, Hybrid Space Lab and The Catalysts

Club Futurists is a Berlin-led international experimental lab to beam Clubbing into the Future, profiling Berlin as the future lab for clubbing.