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Poll 2022: Bootshaus

Location: Cologne, Germany 

Capacity: 1,800

Cologne’s Bootshaus club opened in 1996 under a different name, Warehouse, situated in the city’s shipyard district. Back then, it was considered one of Germany’s first clubs for techno culture, outside of Berlin. In 2005, the club became what we now know as Bootshaus. With its new name the venue quickly gained a reputation thanks to its in-house club brands and parties, the first of which was the Loonyland series, organised by Ulrich Rauschenberger (U-Lee) and Sascha Weber with a focus on EDM and bigroom. 

The place Bootshaus calls home today used to be a storage and repair facility for boats and indeed, the name translates from German and to English as Boathouse. The club moved into this venue in 2012 when businessman Fabian Thylmann became the club's owner. The club is now home to some of Cologne’s leading music brands, such as Blacklist, a widely known bass music collective in Germany who also run their own festival once per year in October, along with Unreal Cologne, a techno-focused party, and the aforementioned Loonyland, which brings more flare with glamorous decor and performers. Aside of those homegrown brands, Bootshaus also has an eight-strong list of resident DJs from the local scene: Björn Grimm, Brandon, Dave Replay, Elle Rich, Emin, Kevin Arnold, Marco Franica and Oliver Magenta.

Inside Bootshaus, you’ll find a Funktion-One soundsystem in both the main room and one of the smaller floors, Dreherei. In the Blackbox room the system is provided by Seeburg Audio. During the pandemic the club also took some time for renovations, especially to the outdoor area, which has been completely redesigned and refurbished with some added tech upgrades too. But aside from cosmetic touches, Bootshaus also made unique technological strides to keep the club afloat during the pandemic. The venue was one of the first clubs to be featured in the Metaverse as Bootshaus XR, which allowed it to remain present with fans and realise projects digitally that would have otherwise been placed on hold for an uncertain period of time.

As it emerges from the pandemic, Bootshaus is looking to grow its event capabilities to produce festivals and larger, classier events. The aforementioned Blacklist festival is booked for October, along with Nibirii Festival in August. Both of those events will take place in separate venues outside the club, but will be produced under the Bootshaus brand. But aside from big plans, the club also recognises changes in clubbing crowds, as Bootshaus’ press officer explains: “After the two-year break, the club landscape needs to recover and reposition itself. Many young people have come of age within the last two years and are going partying for the first time, so the audience is also still finding itself at the moment.” And Bootshaus’ reputation has always been about the crowd, the club tells DJ Mag. “Our crowd makes the club special, many DJs say we have the best crowd in the world and fans are coming from all over the world to experience it by themselves.”