DAVE Festival A tale of music and friendship

Advertisement T he DAVE Festival is a heady cocktail of club culture: cheers to the community! There is usually a good story behind every big event, and the DAVE Festival is no exception. It all started on 3rd April 2012 when the record shop run by Dennis Bartetzkos and Fabian Schneider burnt out. By Siiri Klose

Young club culture

Fat Fenders, specialising in electronica, was and still is very popular with DJs, with house and techno aficionados, and with lovers of electronic sounds in general.

This fan clientele quickly mobilised 200 people to clear up after the fire at the premises in Böhmische Strasse; they washed record covers, sanded the furniture and painted the walls. Other shops in Dresden Neustadt put donation boxes on their counters, the neighbours made coffee, and after only two weeks Fat Fenders was open for business again. As a thank-you to all the helpers, 30 clubs, recording companies and DJs paid for the equipment, music and people to fund a now legendary party at Sektor Evolution, a club in an industrial area of Dresden.


Afterwards, there was still some money left over. But more than that, there was a mood, a feeling, an idea: the disaster had generated such solidarity, so much goodwill in the community and so much good music that it was felt there was scope for even greater things. So in 2014, the first DAVE Festival for Club Culture was held (DAVE stands for Dresden Audiovisual Experience). It lasted four days and was an instant hit. “We had done our organisational planning in advance,” says Kai-Uwe Reinhold, press officer at DAVE. “But we quickly realised that an imposed structure does not work. It has to grow organically.” After all, the 15 to 20 committee members who run the festival every year are not professional organisers. Instead, they are a group of people drawn from a range of professional backgrounds who come together to collectively make arrangements for the programme which has since expanded to fill ten days. The clubs meanwhile are responsible for their own contributions.

Kolt Siewerts, a pioneer of the turntables, Drum & Bass exponent, 2016 at Club Sabotage.
Kolt Siewerts, a pioneer of the turntables, Drum & Bass exponent, 2016 at Club Sabotage.

The actual graft is done in the workshops: this is where the next generation of musicians and DJs can learn the tricks of the trade. Admission is usually free. Established artists explain how they build up a track and demonstrate the tools of their trade.

The 2016 Advancement Award of the state capital Dresden was conferred on DAVE, primarily for overcoming the boundaries between genres and opening up new parts of the city to the cultural scene. The trophy in the form of two halves of an apple made from bronze is proudly displayed where this story began – at Fat Fenders, the oasis of vinyl on Böhmische Strasse.

The Beyond The Club series is the DAVE flagship operation which takes electronic music out of the clubs and over onto the other bank of the Elbe. “We want to bridge the gap between the classical music scene in the Old Town and the youth one in Neustadt,” says Reinhold. The Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) plays host to Quohren Elektronik Kollektiv, a group specially formed for the occasion by local musician Frieder Zimmermann. They interpret works by Béla Bartók and Erik Satie, accompanied by violins, guitars and the folk musicians Tworna.

The DAVE organisers seem to have links to everything and everyone in Dresden, which quickly leads to the most unusual combinations – for example, when Tilo Manig and Jörn Währ as Analogue Audio Association joined with Stefan Senf (aka Assimilation Process) to record a new soundtrack for Sergei Eisenstein’s silent film Battleship Potemkin. This was performed in the futuristic foyer of the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr (MHM) to an eclectic audience, with military epaulettes as well as dreadlocks and baseball caps on prominent display.

The main reason that such unconventional collaborations work out so well is undoubtedly that the movers and shakers in the city frequently and happily rub shoulders with each other. When Barbara Damm, director of music programming at the European Center of Arts Hellerau, found out that DAVE was scheduled for the same slot on the calendar as the Hellerau Tonlagen Festival for Contemporary Music, she did not see it in terms of a competing event but rather as an opportunity for cooperation. The 20th anniversary performance of Raster-Noton (described as the ‘Chemnitz archive for sound and non-sound’) by Carsten Nicolai and Olaf Bender first took place in the Hellerau Festival Theatre and then as an aftershow at TBA, one of the clubs in the DAVE consortium.