What is the DNA of one of the hottest clubs in Europe? Berlin club legend Heinz Gindullis alias 'Cookie' in this interview shares his ideas about success, the need for renewal, vegetarian food and why Berlin is the place to go clubbing. ’Cookies’ has evolved to a hotspot in Berlin since 1994, so ‘Cookie’ should be the right one to ask about changes in the industry.
DLD: How is the club scene of the future evolving? What are the trends?
Cookie (laughs): Well, the club culture as we know it will live on, I am sure of that. A few years ago there was this fear that people won’t go clubbing anymore because of social media and the way we communicate. But people still want to meet face-to-face.
Regarding the style, here in Berlin there are underground clubs, just a room and a bar, and then there are the established clubs with selected décor for having a cozy atmosphere to hang out in. These two types will still be there in the club night of the future.
DLD: What do you think about virtual clubbing and websites where you can meet new people, like Badoo?
Cookie: It’s a side show. These virtual places are there and may be successful. But clubbing is so much more, it’s music, dancing – you want to forget about your everyday life and to have fun with the people who surround you at that moment. This club atmosphere you can’t have online.
DLD: How do you allure people into your club? What does it need for people to choose ‘Cookies’?
Cookie: It’s about the team. The goal is to create a living room feeling that makes people come back and let’s them feel comfortable. At the door, it’s about recognizing the regulars, and at the bar it’s about chatting with the customers. You are successful when you have fun with what you are doing. Redecorating or moving is also part of the game. Some welcome a new style, some don’t – but a standstill means that people are actually moving to other places.
In 17 years, ‘Cookies’ moved 7 times. The first location in 1994 was more like a cocktail bar. We evolved from a small to a big club, and now we are small again. We make people explore. We have a cinema, a shop, a wedding chapel, an ice cream parlor, and a black room in which you can scribble on the board. These rooms will last for a maximum of four months, and then they will be replaced with new ideas.
DLD: You talk about the need for renewal. Over the years, how did your audience change? Any ‘new rules, new values’ in the club scene?
Cookie: 17 years ago in Berlin you had a club where the most different people would all go. It was a mixed crowd scene. What has changed is that people now talk about ‘my club,’ ‘my music’ – it has become much more personalized. If we talk about values, what has changed the most has to do with DJs. Those already known become even more famous. And those who are great but lesser known have it really difficult.
DLD: Where would you put Mieko who will play at the upcoming DLDwomen?
Cookie: She has an artistic background, so she’s special. Mieko is not a star yet, like Richie Hawtin, but in her niche she has the potential to become a great personality. So far, it’s still the case that men dominate the scene. There are a few big names like Magda, but still 95% of all DJs are men.
DLD: In the audience, however, pretty women call the shots …
Cookie (laughs): Actually the best quota is 50/50. Then you have a great harmony between the guests. If you have 80% men or women it doesn’t create a good atmosphere.
DLD: And which role does Berlin play? What does your city have compared with NYC, London, Rio … Munich?
Cookie: What is special about Berlin is that it’s not about how much money you earn. It’s only about how cool you are, if you have charisma, and how much fun you can have. In comparison: If you want to celebrate in a hot club in Ibiza, you have to be on the guest list or have a good payroll. In Berlin you don’t need a table and expensive drinks like in other cities. Here every guest is equal.
DLD: Where do you go clubbing if it’s not in your own club?
Cookie: I’m a huge Ibiza fan. They have not only pretty beaches but at the same time the ‘musical booking.’ I’m rarely in London, New York – in Paris it’s hard to get in the small clubs, and it’s extremely expensive.
DLD: What is your current playlist? Djs, songs …
Cookie (gasps): To be honest, at home I don’t listen to music that much. I’m three times a week in my club, and that’s the music I am listening to. What comes to my mind right now in respect to what has changed in the business, is that back then you needed to own music. It took a true effort to get the cool records. Today, with everything online, every DJ can play everything. So it’s really about the art of mixing music, about the talent, responding to the audience.
DLD: The democratization of music …
Cookie: Exactly. I recently had a discussion for hours about that topic.
DLD: How does your vegetarian restaurant, ‘Cookies Cream’, fit in all this?
Cookie: I am big fan of change and vegetarian food. So, ‘Cookies Cream’ seemed like a good idea next to the club. Even in a place like Berlin there are rarely vegetarian restaurants. In Alaska they might eat fish because there is nothing else, but in a city we should explore our possibilities.
DLD: So, your mum is proud of you?
Cookie: Regarding the vegetarian restaurant, yes. Concerning the club, I’m not so sure (laughs) – my club has become too big for her taste.
DLD: One final candy question – what do you think about DLD?
Cookie: It’s great. When Steffi goes on stage, you have this familiar atmosphere, as if you were home and not at a big conference. The same living room feeling I try to create at ‘Cookies’. It’s my fourth time at DLD, the first time at DLDwomen, and I’ve been told that especially DLDwomen has a great personal atmosphere. I’m looking forward!
Interview by Beatrice Jeschek, DLD Editorial
Photos: Courtesy of 'Cookies'