Once called Warehouse, Cologne's most famous techno club Bootshaus emerged a decade ago off the back of the Loonyland party, a bass/techno/electro rave run by two promoters, U Lee (Ulrich Rauschenberger) and Sascha Weber. The night — now an integral part of the club's programme and one of Germany's most important alternative dance nights — paved the way for Bootshaus' unique position within a buzzing underground club scene.
Home to Kompakt, Cologne is a city often associated with techno, and Warehouse served as a spot where Sven Väth played on the regular. But while Berlin gets most hype from clubbing tourists, Cologne's cultured cobblestone streets are dotted with snug sweatboxes with cool music policies, whereas larger inner city venues are reserved for more mainstream, radio-friendly sounds. Bootshaus, however, with its 1500 capacity, manages to fall in between these stools, offering a large industrial space for dance music more likely to attract serious ravers.
“There is no other club in Cologne with this type of international diversity like the Bootshaus,” says Bootshaus' Niclas Aigner. With a music policy based on “deep, tech and future house, dubstep and trap” — dictated by nights like Gods & Monsters, Neonspash, Deepblue as well as Loonyland — punters are likely to come across names such as Solomun or Len Faki to the likes of Gesaffelstein, Noisia or Sigma on bills during the space of a single week. EDM has also come to the fore in recent years; the club taking advantage of its capacious girth to put on huge shows for DJs like Fedde Le Grand, Ummet Ozcan and Oliver Heldens in recent months. In the past, Hardwell, Afrojack, David Guetta and Dimitri Vegas have all played, as have Chris Liebing, Pan-Pot and Boys Noize.
Dispelling preconceptions of German clubbing as a techno-orientated scene, Bootshaus is all about embracing emerging sounds and keeping it varied, without losing sight of its roots completely.
“There are clearly defined scenes in Cologne. In the beginning there were only techno, electro and house events in the Bootshaus, drawing an individual crowd to each musical genre,” says Niclas. “With time passing by and electronic music becoming more mainstream in the process, electro and house developed into something we today call 'EDM'. Nowadays our crowd enjoys all kinds of electronic music, be it tech or deep house, d&b, dubstep or EDM, because we want our guests to experience these various aspects of electronic music.”
Powered by Funktion One sound and decked out with LEDs, huge light show capabilities and HD visual mapping on massive robots, Bootshaus' set-up is about as subtle as the music. Built like an amphitheatre on three floors — armed to the teeth with flame-throwers and CO2 and confetti cannons — it's equipped to absolutely blow your mind as well as your eardrums. This Bootshaus was made for dancing!
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