Music & clubs

A future’s end: Zukunft ohne Zukunft?

Friedrichshain is set to lose one of its iconic cultural spaces. So what does the future hold for the neighbourhood, and all those involved with Zukunft?

Photo: Maren Michaelis

Barely a day goes by without another article about gentrification crossing our paths. Along with inflation, the war and the fight for housing in Berlin, we’re also dealing with the threat to our cultural institutions, the most recent of which is the impending closure of Friedrichshain’s bastion of noise, Zukunft. This is not just the death knell for a venue but also for every band and member of the musical community that has relied on this space.

Last year, Zukunft’s lease expired, and the venue has been existing on life support ever since.

Located just behind About Blank, Zukunft’s ragtag ensemble of makeshift buildings and whimsical decor has been entertaining the locals for over 10 years now. Starting out initially as a bar and open-air cinema, the space now consists of a theater, band venue and brewery – and is the source of Friedrichshain’s legendary Goldener Zukunft beer.

Last year, however, Zukunft’s lease expired, and the venue has been existing on life support ever since. This year, the doors of the original space will finally close for good. Just looking at the area around Ostkreuz, with all the construction work in and around Rummelsburg, it’s plain to see that the neighbourhood is changing faster than anyone can keep up with. In a turbulent sea, Zukunft has remained Berlin to its core, with its mishmash of furniture, humble setup and punk demeanour. But it can’t keep itself afloat much longer.

Photo: Maren Michaelis

Much more than just a great hang, Zukunft has been – and always will be – an institution. Alternative, hardcore crews including Miss The Stars, South Of Mainstream, Swamp Fest and Doom in Bloom all threw regular events and festivals here. It also provided resources and stages for FLINTA* musicians to commune and work together, with GRRRL-NOISY and BangOn putting on regular programmes over the years. Anyone who’s ever played at Zukunft will tell you how great it is to work with them.

More than just a great hang, Zukunft has been – and always will be – an institution.

After the pandemic restrictions finally started to lift, the first concert I went to was at Zukunft. At the time, nobody was sure if it would even take place. After the show (it was Scottish metal band DVNE, for those interested) there was a look of pure glee and ecstasy in everyone’s eyes, a look of disbelief – had we really just experienced live music after such a long gap?

The first gig I played after the lockdown also happened to be at Zukunft. Supporting Berlin-hardcore band Wet Dream War Machine on the underground TIEF stage, I had the privilege of receiving the warm courtesy provided by their in-house team. Onstage and from the audience, the list of Berlin bands I’ve seen at Zukunft is endless. The countless concerts I’ve been lucky enough to catch – Laura Lee & The Jettes, Kara Delik, Point No Point, Thala, Strand Child and so many more – plus the people I’ve met, the moments shared… all of this will lost in the ashes of gentrification.

And beyond the alternative melee, Zukunft also threw events for children and staged theatre programmes, poetry nights and more. Regardless of whether you attended their stoner-rock nights at the Garage, or watched films in the garden, Zukunft’s closure will be a great loss to us all. Affordable concerts, diversity and good vibes are invaluable, and Berlin is slowly falling short on all. Zukunft’s closure is only one chapter in a larger story here. In the past few years, the area has seen Rosi’s and Musik & Frieden both fall to the sword, and with the planned redevelopment of RAW-Gelände, the inevitable conclusion of the A100 and the ever-expansive MediaSpree, the situation doesn’t look bright for any event space in Friedrichshain, or Berlin for that matter.

But there is some light on the horizon: Zukunft’s team has a new space in the works. With a lease signed and a crowdfunding campaign underway, they’re currently in the buildout phase of their new venue and will be looking to the community to help them create more musical memories for everyone.

In the meantime, the countdown at its current location is on. So if you haven’t had the chance to drink a Goldener Zukunft yet, maybe it’s time to make the most of the present, before the Zukunft ends.

  • Zukunft am Ostkreuz Laskerstr. 5, Friedrichshain