Et Andet Sted – Making space for freedom of expression in nightlife (interview)
Interview by Cameron Pagett
An exciting and exclusive sit-down with the men (Thobias Molter, Sebastian Henriksen, Máni Sigurdarson, Mathias Stoffersen, and Søren Kinch) who have started one of Copenhagen’s favourite and most interesting club for DIY Electronic music. In a little under two years past Et Andet Sted started with the goal to bring a Berlin feel to the Copenhagen club scene, and create a safe place for expression in the local Techno and Electronic Community. From the first party until now, It has become an organisation that is firmly establishing itself in the fabric of the Copenhagen and International underground scenes with multiple events each month.
Fresh off a move from their first location in the Industrial region in Grønttorvet, Valby to Monastic club in City Center the club continues to gain notoriety and a broader following in the techno, nightlife and party scenes. Known for their community first and unorthodox features in the Copenhagen club scene, Et Andet Sted remains caught in a tempest of expectation, increasing popularity and the challenges that come with it. We are happy to present an in-depth look at the history of the club, the current situation and a nice view into their hopes and dreams for the coming years.
P/A: Thanks for being with us. To get this started:Where do you know each other from? How did the foundations or concept of Et Andet Sted begin? And what was the first party you threw?
Mathias: Sebastian and I went to High School together 10 years ago, and we got on pretty quickly and were good friends, and then ehhhh, we just started exploring the techno scene together and different venues in Copenhagen to see what was happening. It was mostly dubstep back then, techno kinda took off after that. There was also Kødboderne 18, which became KB18 after that which was when the meat-packing district took off, but then, I don’t know, sometime after that point Sebastian got to know Thobias.
Sebastian: Yes! I was interning and Thobias was also working with me.
Thobias: They had a basement where we could throw a party.
Sebastian: Yeah! We met and we just wanted to have a nice party, so we threw an amazing party with a full house, a line all the way around the corner at Halmtorvet… 20 kroner? 30 kroner? (looks around). Yeah! 20 kroner entrance (laughs)
Thobias: Yeah it worked out really good! Then we did it again and.
Sebastian: It didn’t work out so well (laughs) we booked like an international DJ from Berlin…
P/A: Brought the big guns in?
Sebastian: Yeah, (laughs) we had 70 people show up or something.
Thobias: We raised the price a lot and ehhh…
Sebastian: I think we figured out that it’s about the local DJs when you throw a party in Copenhagen, so the next time we did a party was like… a long time after.
Thobias: Yeah we were looking for another place, we did some outdoors stuff. Our name was ‘house out of the house’ (laughs). It was more house music then. Eh, then we found this place called that was this communal style venue for punk kids and other creatives. They had a small bar and a multi-creative kitchen area with studios and stuff upstairs. Then by accident me and Sebastian booked the whole house for like 36 hours. Instead of 8 hours (laughs around the table). Yeah so we had it from Friday until Sunday evening instead of Friday until Saturday afternoon, so we decided to go ahead with it, and we could!
Sebastian: The venue didn’t really care, they already had the license for the party for 36 hours, so they were just like great! Perfect! (laughs) We had all these local DJs, it was a huge success! There were so many people coming by for the entire day…
Thobias: Also Politiken decided to write an article about it and it ended up being two pages. Was an enormous article so we went from being at like 750 people to more like 2500 people, it went completely crazy. (silence)
Sebastian: So we did it again and built up a name, then someone told us that they were renting out spaces in Grøntorvet and around that time we added these two guys to work with us and that’s how we all sort of found each other.
Thobias: Pretty much after that because Søren had a huge sound system we made a six man crew and decided to move to Grønttovet in Valby and that was when it really started.
P/A: When I ask people in the local electronic music scene about Et Andet Sted, and one of the things that comes up first when asked about what they love about it and makes it important is that this is a club that everyone always talked about opening, but no-one ever did until you. Do you ever see it that way?
Et Andet Sted: Yeah (group).
Thobias: That was one of the main reasons at least for me to start doing this. When we started it we talked a lot about how we should handle stuff and it was like… Our mission should be to have the club, we always wanted to have, because if we do that…
Sebastian: Also there was no nice place in Copenhagen, as far as I think.
Mathias: There was just like Culture Box and meat-packing and we thought we had something that Copenhagen needed.
Sebastian: Something more underground, different. We also went to Berlin a lot, loads of times and experienced this thing that we never experienced in Copenhagen and wanted to bring that free vibe here. We know we have good people, we know we have Christiania and these super liberal elements and thoughts. I found it very natural to be there (Berlin) and its part of our manifest to introduce a German club culture in Copenhagen. If you look at our pages (Facebook) and stuff it says that. I think that’s what we did kinda do, but in our own way of course. Our own way, with our own character.
Mathias: We didn’t have much beside the sound system when we first moved (laughs) that was all we had! So basically we built everything from scratch you know… I had a MasterCard I maxed to buy booze and put everything on (more laughs) so that was basically how we started.
Thobias: We had this room, and we had the opportunity to do things however we wanted. Cash was never the reason why we did it, it was to have this room in Copenhagen where people could go and have a good time, but also the opportunity to be free and be themselves. To not go there for Instagram or whatever.
Mathias: It was also more that we didn’t let it keep us back that we didn’t have anything. We had what we had and we dealt with it. We added along as the place progressed and became better.
Thobias: The kind of company we have is our own and our responsibility. It’s on our shoulders and that motivates us.
Mathias: We were also in the right place with the right timing and met the right people who got us in contact with others, we had the drive to keep pushing even though it took us like 6 months before we finally got the space in Grønttorvet.
Soren: We needed it and Copenhagen needed it as well.
Thobias: One of the issues as well is that it is really expensive to find a place and there aren’t many places in Copenhagen where it is possible to do this stuff. If you do something like this then you have to take a risk because there are many crews who had more funds. We were fortunate to meet these people who had these really shitty but good enough for rave places that were about to be torn down anyway so we got the place pretty cheap.
P/A: There is quite a community that has grown around Et Andet Sted from the first days until now. While the club may not yet have a truly reliable and consistent established home in the permanent sense, do you feel that it’s more the people than the space that define what it is?
Mathias: Of course its the people. You can have a nice setting and a nice place but if you have the wrong people it won’t feel right … so in that sense it’s definitely right. I think this is very general for what’s happening in the techno scene here. There is a big community around us, Fast Forward, other crews too …
P/A: I think what we are pointing at is that say in Berlin you have established clubs that have been there for years in the same spot. Et Andet Sted has been here for a little under two years and it has had to move (with another move possibly coming) so the definition of the club more rests with the community then the place.
Thobias: In that sense I think we are happy about the community who comes to our parties and yes, they are a big factor in defining our place.
Sebastian: Yes, but now that we have the new place that community has shifted a lot and now we are trying to keep out the wrong ones. We have someone at the door who functions as a host and asks questions, but he is not a picker like in Berlin … more like an informer. We had a picker for Herrensauna but that didn’t work out so well in Copenhagen…
Thobias: Yes, a party has to take place somewhere and when you are throwing parties in a place for such a long time some people come to love that place, I know I did. We had to leave and if I wanted Et Andet Sted to be something more than Grøntorvet because I like this community and I wanted to give people the chance to still go and escape from there life over the weekend so we found a place to throw our parties under someone else roof while we searched for a new place. Monastic is not ours and we are happy they are happy to have us otherwise the community wouldn’t have a place to be.
Sebastian: Yes and now that we have moved there are new people coming and we went from a space with one room to another with like thousands! It’s completely different.
Mathias: I think a lot of people in the community has been hesitant about this place. One of the strong forces we had in the old place was that you bike out there and it feels like forever. Your like where the fuck am I going? Is this even worth going? Then you turn off into this industrial area they hear the base pumping and they are like, “Holy Fuck!” And maybe you don’t get that same feeling when you ride into the inner city right? That is one of the things I think that’s been hard for the community to cope with.
Thobias: That was also the thing about these random party goers in City Center … oh what’s that line?
Mathias: The old location was like a picker in itself because all the random dickheads in city center they wouldn’t even go out there you know. People who are dedicated will make that trip.
P/A: We’ve heard a lot about the conditions of the move from the old space in Grøntorvet to the new place at Monastic. We went over it a bit but maybe this will help us define it more. Can you give us a timeline about the move? Why it happened? And what is the immediate hope for Et Andet Sted at Monastic?
Sebastian: Well… We were in Berlin vacationing after the new years party which was a huge success. So we went to Germany for two weeks. It was the first Friday of the New Year the police went to our neighbours in Grøntorvet 64 and wanted to know what was going on, then they decided to call the fire department who came and they said it was the craziest thing they had ever seen (laughs) and that there could be 50 people here because they didn’t have the best fire escape.
Thobias: We decided to be closed that weekend because had just finished the new years party, so by luck we weren’t even there. It was closed anyway.
Sebastian: The police wanted to close down Grøntorvet because no-one had all the right permissions and stuff it was all classified as storage (laughs),and you cant have guests in storage.
Mathias: Our Landlord didn’t know that.
Sebastian: (laughing) We were totally oblivious and didn’t care. We didn’t know either really, our contract seemed ok (laughs)
Thobias: We decided not to look into it … We had come to this place that was in a quiet area and met some guy who owns the place. He says,”Hey, you can rent the place, do whatever you want!” He actually puts the fucking ehhh your rental agreement saying Rental Agreement for a Night Club … We thought we were fine, but we weren’t.
Mathias: Turns out the zoning was just for storage and selling vegetables rather than partying.
Sebastian: Actually if the fire department had come to our place then it maybe wouldn’t have close because we had good fire escapes, but it was at our neighbours place, so …
Thobias: So it wasn’t the fire department or the police who closed it. It was the lawyers from our renters who wrote us because the police wrote them about some … ‘inappropriate behaviour’ … yeah. We decided not to have anymore parties at that place to avoid problems with our renters but we also decided to keep it for long enough to have one more party. (laughs)
Mathias: Yeah so, Thobias and Sebastian were on the bus home calling everybody in their phone to find a new spot and Thobias called these guys at Monastic.
Sebastian: We had five meetings when we got back and Monastic was by far the best. We really had good chemistry with the director, it was a good fit. We were both together in supporting LGBT, they are open-minded, we could be open for long hours, do whatever we wanted more or less. They were in a situation for things to have a fresher energy and push toward a more defined club concept. They needed things to pick up because the rent was super high and then we came along, perfect match! Alcohol license in the middle of the city, so we tried it out and it went pretty well! Then on the Monday after the party we got 6 or 7 complaints from the neighbours (laughs) because we put this huge sound system, the biggest functioning one we could get I guess in the middle of the town. There are about 100 people living in the block and yeah … We had to change the speakers. We can only play music where we are because it is under a backyard. We are currently sound proofing the club.
P/A: Musically I have always thought of the club as a home for Techno, it is, but there are numerous other types of parties at Et Andet Sted. Was the club originally started with a more diverse musical focus or was it a Techno club first that has taken on other styles as it has progressed?
Søren: Hmmm, I guess in the beginning we all wanted to do all different kinds of parties, different genres but it turned out to be a more techno focused crowd coming there. The biggest parties are the techno parties.
Sebastian: That (techno) is also the vibe in Copenhagen right now, there aren’t many house crews and its very popular to do techno parties. Originally we started the first parties with disco, we all like house music too so we don’t mind having it all.
Mathias: We talked a lot about it at the beginning in our weekly meetings and I think we found out its best to have a red thread between everything.
Sebastian: It’s always a debate (laughs) I like that, I like that its always open and we don’t have to be one thing.
Thobias: It’s also about diversity.
Søren: Copenhagen is still not big enough to have a club focusing on one thing. In 10 years or 15 I an imagine that though, maybe.
P/A: People, particularly from the techno scene have said that Et Andet Sted is a club that has the DIY spirit, and this is one of the biggest things that makes it special. It’s not a supermarket party culture but it mostly keeps the themes and performers from existing connections. Is that true and what role does the DIY spirit play in how you run and present the venue?
Mathias: Its very true, as mentioned earlier we started out with just our sound system and good spirit. We built everything and had so many plans. Every party we added something to the place and it was exciting for people to come out and say, “oh my God, there is a boat hanging on the ceiling with plants growing.” People could see stuff was happening all the time and we were putting in all this effort and we weren’t just buying stuff from the Supermarket. We did what we felt was right all the time and experimented with stuff.
Mani: We were working like a crazy amount of hours between parties (laughs).
Sebastian: After every party we just ripped everything down and our neighbours would come in like, ”what the fuck guys, not again!” (laughs) Then one hour before parties it’s like we have to clean right now! The party would commence then we would do it all over again!
Mathias: It was just a big learning process for us about finding out what works and what doesn’t. That is one of the funnier but super hard parts about doing this.
Sebastian: That’s also what’s super interesting about moving, even though it’s not the most optimal place its interesting to build up a new place with all the experience we have now.
Mathias: Now we are way better at seeing the possibilities and making the most of our options.
Sebastian: In Grønttorvet we only had 90 square meters and we did what was possible.
Thobias: But it’s not just what we did, it’s also like … the DIY spirit comes in with us working with the local crews (music) and everybody from the local community who came there and could help us in some way. The crews who didn’t have a place to party they cold all of a sudden come to our place and party at our place.
Sebastian: This also goes back to before when we wanted to have parties we were denied everywhere. All the established places have a hard time letting in new people. We try to address this.
Thobias: I see a lot of the success comes from everybody taking such a big part in creating the place.
Mathias: Exactly, like the big wooden mask in front of our old spot in Grønttorvet came from Thobias when he was working at distortion. He was sitting next to these guys talking about what to do with it after the festival so Thobias just brought it! (laughs) Now it was like it’s your responsibility, it was fucking huge! We had to call crane company just to put it in there! (laughs) It’s a really big force in our crew as well is that some of us might think it takes way to much work, and then another comes in and offers their view and then we just get it fucking done! That’s a good thing about being a group of different people and it makes us strong together.
Thobias: We have relied so much on the local community to carry us, and let us carry them. That’s DIY to us.
P/A: As Et Andet Sted grows with a higher frequence of parties I am curious to know what your thoughts are on the electronic scene in general in Copenhagen. A really interesting thing we took from our interview with Fast Forward was that what is happening now may be defining a new way of going out locally. The rave scene has never been as rampant as it is now. What is the motivation? Do you feel any responsibility for the atmosphere as it develops, to keep it positive?
Sebastian: I hope we have a positive energ. It would be amazing to keep being a part of it and developing that spirit. It’s a big responsibility. I also think I have this idea about going out dancing, it is a youth thing so I’m sure that in one year or two there will come a new crew like us or something similar hopefully. For the time being I hope and think we have a lot to offer and we are also looking at new spaces out of town where we can explore much more than we can in our current location.
Mathias: At the time being, especially all over Europe Techno is going through a resurgence. It was big in the 90s and died a bit down and now it has become really big again. A lot of people in Copenhagen think we can do it here, were just as fucking awesome, fuck the establishment let’s do our own stuff.
Thobias: I think it’s a collective responsibility to take part in the parties, that we take responsibility for the parties we are throwing. Other people are people are doing that as well and it’s like we cant host parties for all of Copenhagen and I’m sure that with the rate the city is growing there is plenty of room for all of us I just hope that everybody took as much responsibility for their parties as we do for ours then I would be more happy to go out in other places as well.
Mathias: There’s also a great community among all of us (DIY scene) who throws parties. We all help each other out. Thobias is the main guy doing lights at Fast Forward all the time, we are involved locally. It’s not a competition for who can throw the best party it more a cooperation.
P/A: On a lighter note there are some things in the club that could be locally seen as a novelty. There are dark rooms, a no photo policy and the sex swing. We imagine it must be fun being the only club in Copenhagen with these features. What do you think and hope these features bring to the experience for people?
Søren: Open Minded people? Well right now it’s (the darkrooms) just an area where you smoke.
Thobias: (laughs) well for now it’s more of a smoking swing.
Sebastian: I think people do have sex in the dark room?
Mathias: We did have a girl who ehhh, stole a lemon from the bar and it ended up in her … yeah. (room bursts out laughing) It got stuck up there and she had to go out in the kitchen and use a spoon to remove it (laughs and disbelief) … yeah I just hope that this environment we create adds to people letting loose and doing whatever they feel like without worrying what other people think about them. … (Sarcastic) After I found out this happened in the dark room I thought maybe we should put out like an assortment of fruits and vegetables…
Sebastian: Its kind the place is also kinda naturally kinky with all the rooms and corners. The Director is also a big fan of Kit Kat Club in Berlin so, yeah …
Mathias: I think it’s hard to recreate that in Copenhagen because it is such a small city.
Sebastian: Yeah and the no photo is kind of, I think that’s really important to all of us actually.
Mathias: It’s all about being here right now rather then on IG or Snapchat. It also about people being able to just focus on the party. At least in Grønttorvet there were a lot of people being naked on the dance floor and things, I haven’t seen so many naked people in Monastic yet.
Thobias: Its also, (no photo) It gives the freedom of expression, and it also adds to the mystique in a way. People want to see for themselves what’s going on.
P/A: We noticedthat you have a sign-up sheet online that acts as sort of a screening agent that helps to keep the feel of the club more intimate. It seems at the moment that there is no trouble in getting a crowd, but with the move and added exposure what actions are you taking to keep the DIY spirit alive? Do you feel like there is some way to educate new-comers to the rave scene on how to behave?
Sebastian: Well now the last two parties we have been trying with a host, not like at the Herrensauna party where we had a picker, and she got turned into the police. There was a woman who called and said she was discriminating … so that didn’t work out at all.
Thobias: Yeah, that was some shit; but nothing ever happened about it.
Sebastian: We kind of got a little scared about it, but ehhh, within three months (in Monastic) we have had 11 episodes of people not behaving proper whereas in Grøntorvet we only had one episode in the whole year. So now we try to educate people with a host who is at the door and says hi, asks them if they know where they are going and informs them of our policy. I think the last two weekends have been the best parties we’ve had at Monastic. So, it’s definitely necessary to have some sort of barrier especially in this environment.
Thobias: Yes, we also need someone to just be in the door saying hey and checking that people have a nice evening while informing them of what’s going on and letting them know if they want pop music it’s probably not for them. Lets guide you and help you find someplace where you want to go, so we don’t have to deal with anything terrible. Some of these people pay the entrance and then go inside and aren’t ready, they have a bad experience and then start behaving badly as a result.
Sebastian: Thats for sure.
Thobias: Also people come to a Gay club who may be Homophobic, so we want to inform people about that as well.
P/A: Monastic is a fun and interesting place with all the rooms and places you can discover. There are some size constraints, the floor is a bit small and it seems obvious that the club will be moving in the future. It has grown quickly, and we are curious if the next move will look for a more permanent spaceor will Et Andet Sted remain more nomadic?
Søren: I think it has to be that [permanent].
Mathias: We are definitely looking for something more permanent.
Sebastian: 7 years, or 10 years minimum.
Thobias: We only to have the energy to find one place. We have a six month agreement with Monastic and when we don’t have anymore time there I hope that we have at least found a place where we can move into. So within a year we should have a place.
Mathias: There is definitely a reward for anyone out there, free entrance forever, let us know if you have anything!
Sebastian: We are trying to get into Refshaløen right now. We found a really cool location that we hope we can get. They are really picky with who they let in, but its a nice time to apply.
Mathias: Its kinda one of the last old industrial areas in Copenhagen where you can do this and I think that’s very sad that, any old places like Grønttorvet is getting demolished because it removes a lot of the freedom to do these kind of things and it’s something future generations are not going to have. I hope Refshaløen can stay as it is, but I don’t think so, it will probably be developed. So I hope we will find a new place so keep looking out
Info: At the moment Et Andet Sted is still on the lookout for new space to call their permanent home. In the meantime they are throwing an unreal amount of Techno Parties in Monastic on Hauser Plads in City Center. It’s a very exciting place to be! You can visit them for parties on the weekend or on their Facebook page for updates and sign in for party attendance. (RSVP)