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Poor, but Sexy

Reflections on Berlin Scenes

Edited By Geoff Stahl

Poor, But Sexy: Reflections on Berlin Scenes offers readers a varied cross-section of the city’s scenes, providing a prismatic view of one of Europe’s mythical cultural capitals. The authors gathered here address a range of topics, including Turkish gay clubs, queer filmmaking, record labels, the legendary Russendisko, electronic music festivals, the city’s famous techno scene, the clandestine dimensions of its nighttime club culture, and the fraught emergence of the Mediaspree. With the shifting context of post-Wende Berlin its backdrop, this collection puts into relief an electic array of case studies, presenting to readers interested in exploring urban issues a number of critical and analytical perspectives on the city’s cultural life as it moves into the twenty-first century. Poor, But Sexy is an important contribution to the critical analysis of the cultural spaces in the city, and allows readers access to one of the few scholarly overviews of Berlin’s varied cultural life available in English.
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Poor, But Sexy: Reflections on Berlin Scenes

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Introduction

The scene opens up the conversation on the dreamwork of the city, how it arouses dreaming, the desire to be seduced by the present—the dream of the eternal present—in a way that can make it enduring. It is through the idea of the scene what we can begin to recover the notion of the great city as exciting because such an approach leads us to rethink the interior dream of Gesellschaft, the dream that we might be strong enough… to cancel the opposition (between Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft) and to preserve the difference, that is, to dream the dream of Gesellschaft (that a society can be memorable, that this present can live in time). (Alan Blum, The Imaginative Structure of the City, 2003 176)

In the twenty-plus years since the fall of the Wall, Berlin has undergone an immense transformation on a scale not seen in any other European city. This dramatic urban makeover has been as much cul-tural and social as it has material and symbolic. Alongside the renovation of the city’s built environment, as well as its reputation, a large part of this urban reconstruction has been the foregrounding of the city’s many cultural activities. This has been a process that has reaffirmed and reinvigorated Berlin’s near century-long status as a cultural hub for artists, entrepreneurs and a host of other creatively inclined individuals. This profound overhaul also generated a frenzied entrepreneurial energy, an effervescence made manifest in the many gallery, music,...

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