The faded photographs take us to Prenzlauer Berg, the somewhat mythical neighborhood in east Berlin, that rings a bell with most fans of Rammstein. Along with quite a few artisans… The scene lies right in the heart of this part of the town. The place we are looking for is the legendary KNAACK Club.
New Year’s Eve, 2010, marked the end of an era as the club KNAACK made its last hurrah before closing its doors on Greifswalder Straße, Prenzlauer Berg. The club had been active for nearly six decades and had become a pilgrimage for musicians and fans alike, but due to the neighbors complains about noise, it was decided it must close. It was just one of the victims of what some call “the Prenzlauer Berg Club Death”, a period of about three years when a lot of the old establishments had to close, much due to new developments and more people moving in. And families with small kids and rowdy club goers seldom see eye to eye.
The very first contract for the site was signed in 1952, then called the Ernst-Knaack-Jugendheim, after the resistance man, Ernst Knaack, who also had a nearby street named after him. It was one of the musical hubs during the GDR era, attracting all sorts of young bands and a cool fan base to go along with them.
The club became more of a discotheque during the Turning, with multiple dance floors in five different rooms. Concerts were held several times a week, most notoriously with bands like Rammstein and Die Toten Hosen. The very first Rammstein concerts ever were held there, while the band was still trying to find its footing and trying to find a good balance between enticing the audience and actually incinerating it.
Rammstein used the club as their home base when they started out, and kept using it as a rehearsal space for quite some time. Among other events, they have hosted rehearsal concerts and special fan eventsin the club, most noteworthy the three, invitation-only, rehearsals for the “Reise, Reise” tour, in October, 2004. They have since made return trips to the club during the years until its closing.
In February, 2013, it was announced that the KNAACK would resurrect, on a new location on the Eberswalder Straße, just off the Mauerpark. As a means of compensation for having a hand in the decision to close it, the Pankow County Council has assisted in finding new accommodations, and negotiations are “in the final phase”, per councilman Jens-Holger Kirchner. But as it always is whenever authorities are involved, plans have taken longer than anticipated, and the club will most likely not open until sometime 2017, instead of 2016 as planned.
Thilo Goos, the head of Black Box Music, who has been contracted to build the club, which will be called “Knaack-Kulturhaus” when reopened, are not available for a comment on further details when Berliner Morgenpost tried to reach him as per February, 2017. But what they learned was that the club will be housed in part in the old, graffiti-adorned, transformer house once serving the street cars, and right next to the M10 railway line, affectionately known as the “party line”. Also, housed in the new cultural center will be art studios, a discotheque, a recording studio, rehearsal rooms, and a coffee shop.
“It will be a club where you could make some serious noise,” says Kirchner of the Pankow County Council, and he’s probably right, since the house will be built in concrete. “And there aren’t any problems with the neighbors worth mentioning,” he assures. So, let’s hope he’s right and that KNAACK will once again open this year, preferably with one hell of a party.