Feminist, Queer and Trans Geographies

Berghain: Space, affect, and sexual disorientation

In this article, I think of Berlin’s techno club Berghain as a form of relational aesthetics where encounters mediated by tactile sounds, labyrinthine architecture, and libido-enhancing drugs create an unusually porous sexual subjectivity. By sketching out some changes in the composition of the club’s crowd and drug culture – a shift towards aphrodisiac substances such as G and mephedrone – I argue that Berghain has become a specific pharmacolibidinal constellation. Especially the recreational drug G can be thought of as an unruly liquid that concretises queer theory’s preoccupation with sexual fluidity. Instead of nausea-inducing drugs in combination with same-sex erotica – a popular technique in so-called ‘aversion therapy’ – this is a ‘gay conversion therapy’ in reverse whereby erotic horizons expand and multiply through the combination of chemicals and a multi-sensory overload of pleasurable stimuli. Rather than thinking of sexual orientation as located inside the body, I suggest, we might think of it as located inside the building.

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Volume 40 Issue 3

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