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  • 90mil: The DIY space here for a good time, not a long time

Editor's column

90mil: The DIY space here for a good time, not a long time

The "urban regeneration project" of 90mil feels like a time capsule to earlier days of Berlin's music scene. Sadly, it's only here for 18 months.

Photo: 90mil

Located beneath the railway tracks at Jannowitzbrücke, hidden behind some metal gates in a former derelict office space, is one of Berlin’s latest hopes for creativity: 90mil.

90mil is more than an event space

It had been a while since I went to an event with such obscure directions, but as they say, getting there is half the fun. With a roaring fire outside, you enter through a side door, where you’re asked to pay for a membership; a tactic often used by underground spaces back in the day to allow their owners to throw parties in such occupied premises in the first place.

90mil is more than an event space, though. It’s a self-described “urban regeneration project”, a home for the arts, DIY culture and community building. Within the 2000-square-metre building are spaces for workshops, arts and crafts, theatre and even a bespoke radio station.

The music venue, as with all good spaces in Berlin, can be found in the basement, equipped impressively with two Function One speakers next to the stage. The bar itself is basically just a plank of wood perched upon a couple of Bierkästen next to a fridge. It’s like travelling back to a time when all the good parties in Berlin could be found in obscure Hinterhöfe, with nothing more than a DJ and a small sound system.

Photo: 90mil

The programming is as wild and adventurous as the venue itself. Experimental electronic music, dance performances, punk gigs, films and even wrestling matches can all be found beneath the railway tracks. The crowd are a mixture of performance artists and nowhere-freaks: people who learned how to dress before the era of TikTok.

My subscription to this wonderful time capsule of hedonistic arts allowed me to enjoy some reasonably-priced beers while being subjected to a pleasant assault of electronic sounds by Spar Hornet, followed up by a performance by local psych-rock outfit The Tarts.

The gaunt-looking punk band was fronted by a Billy-Idol wannabe backed by a drum machine and a couple of ragged-looking guitarists. It was the kind of band I hadn’t seen on the stages of Berlin for almost a decade.

All Palaces are Temporary Palaces

So what’s the catch? Like a decadent, beautiful butterfly, the event space has been given only a temporary lease of life. From its inception in April 2023, 90mil knew that it only had at least 18 months before the space was to be torn down. It is part of Berlin’s Einstürzende Altbauten, something that reminds me of a light installation by British artist Robert Montgomery at Stadtbad Wedding, another one of Berlin’s lost spaces, that reads: “All Palaces are Temporary Palaces”.

The quote became synonymous with the former music and art space once the city announced the venue’s closure. Although the phrase was more of a commentary about migration and power, it also reflected greatly upon the impermanence of ownership.

90mil holds events like the Summer Art and Junk Market on June 8. Photo: 90mil

So before 90mil gets added to the list of great event spaces that are gone for good, grab a membership card and step back in time into this glorious epitome of Berlin’s eccentric underground.

  • More info available on their website.