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Berlin Techno Added to UNESCO Cultural Heritage List

'For more than 30 years, techno has been an important sound of our capital,' said Germany's Minister of State for Culture and the Media.


Berlin techno is being officially recognized as part of Germany's national cultural heritage.

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Berlin techno is now officially part of Germany's rich cultural heritage, alongside mountaineering, fruit wine, and a Bavarian winter parade where people dress up in furry monster costumes for good luck.

The city's thriving electronic music scene, exemplified by clubs like Tresor and the notoriously hard-to-get-into Berghain, was added to Germany's Intangible Cultural Heritage list by a national UNESCO commission this week in recognition of its cultural significance following a years-long campaign spearheaded by the Berlin-based nonprofit Rave the Planet.

"Our joy is hard to put into words," Rave the Planet shared in a statement. "This recognition marks a significant milestone for the entire electronic music culture and has implications far beyond the borders of Berlin. We congratulate all cultural creators who have shaped Berlin's techno culture for almost 40 years and made it what it is today. A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone who has accompanied and supported us on this long journey."

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The campaign arose as part of an effort to preserve and protect the city's clubs following numerous closures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lutz Leichsenring, a member of the executive board of the Clubcommission network of clubs and promoters, reiterated to German broadcaster DW that the designation is "another milestone for Berlin techno producers, artists, club operators and event organizers," adding that "the decision will help us ensure that club culture is recognized as a valuable sector worthy of protection and support."

In 2021, Berlin's local government voted to declare clubs "cultural institutions." The new cultural heritage status will allow clubs further access to government subsidies, funding, and protection under town planning laws.

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Berlin techno was one of six new additions to the registry along with mountaineering in Saxony, the Finsterwalder singing tradition, Bavaria's Kirchseeoner Perchtenlauf parade, Schwalm whitework embroidery, and a sweet apple wine called Viez.

"The new additions not only illustrate the regional diversity and thematic breadth of lived culture in Germany, they also stand for an expanded concept of culture," Claudia Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Culture and the Media, stated.

"This is exemplified by the inclusion of Berlin’s techno culture. For more than 30 years, techno has been an important sound of our capital, also for many people from Europe and around the world who come to Berlin. Berlin's techno culture has stood for values such as diversity, respect, and openness for many years."

Timon Gremmels, chairman of the 2024 Conference of Ministers of Culture and Minister of Culture in the German state of Hesse, added, "The recent entries underline the diversity and vitality of cultural practices. The list of our Intangible Heritage continues to grow, as does the commitment to preserving traditions for future generations."

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Berghain is just one of Berlin's famous electronic music clubs.

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While ICH status is usually granted to local folk traditions, there is some precedent for techno's inclusion. In 2018, UNESCO added Jamaican reggae music to its global Intangible Cultural Heritage list.


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