Eric D Clark, though a born San Franciscan, has been a resident of Berlin for 8 years now and is a well-known character in the music and club scene. You can bet your bottom dollar, this living legend is known from disco to disco all over the world – because Eric has lived all over the place and seen it all! A classically trained pianist, producer and DJ, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and his tastes vary from techno to house to soul to funk. Here he scratches his head and tries to recall his first weekend in the city that finally stole his heart.
“So, to set the scene: the wall had fallen only a few weeks before and I was living in Paris. I had met a German guy at some party in Paris who had got a job on MTV’s The Real World and he was from Berlin. He told me he had started doing parties in Berlin and he asked me to DJ at one. I was really excited to come over because of what I’d seen on TV, I was like “Yeah! Lets go do a party in a warzone!” Anyway it was sooooo bizarre. It took a long time to get here, I took a train from Paris, I think it went through Belgium, anyway it took absolutely forever. When we arrived it was pitch black outside, because there were no street lights, I stayed in the Holiday Inn on Prenzlauer Allee I think - although a year and a half later I was walking around looking for that neighbourhood but I could never find it again.
Anyway, these people took me dinner in some sort of Government building I think that was obviously empty. Then we got a taxi and the taxi driver got totally lost, I remember feeling like we were on a total adventure. The city was hot with this energy that was literally tangible. There was so much new energy and atmosphere here. After about an hour of driving around rubble roads we found it. It was a great party, compared to Paris I remember thinking how very loud it was. They must have been in the middle of doing construction work as the floor was covered with holes and sheets and equipment and you had to watch your footing. There was a god crowd there and this whole MTV crew and we all just got drunk and danced for hours.
My memory fails me a little, but I do know that after this party on the way home I asked the taxi driver to take me out and show me something cool and so then we went together to some basement club, I guess in Friedrichshain or somewhere like that, I don’t remember exactly because by this point I was pretty out of it, haha! These basement clubs were apparently very typical at this time in Berlin’s history, just parties going on everywhere in people’s apartments, no licenses needed, complete and total freedom. It reminded me of a sex club without the sex. It was just very dark, there was no real light, everything was going on in there, there were all sorts of people, gay, straight, black, white. Needless to say, I didn’t use the hotel room that was booked for me for 2 days. I'm pretty sure I had a little sleep in there actually, like I occasionally do during a long night out in the Panorama Bar nowadays. I’m all for disco-napping.
After my first weekend in Berlin I was like “that was very cool”, but I was happy in Paris and so I stayed there for almost another 10 years or so. It wasn’t until the late 90s that I realised how dull and saturated Paris had become, so then I moved to Germany, first to Cologne and then to Berlin, where I’ve kept a base ever since!”
PHOTO: MICHAEL MANN