IfZ has about 150 employees with 150 different perspectives. Reports will now come out every 3 months and are written by only a few people; the rest of the crew has time to leave their comments. The wording does not always reflect all perspectives or meet all needs. This is an attempt to give an outside view into the complex structure of “IfZ”. The reports are always snapshots of positions and processes, which can change as we constantly try to reflect our actions. We decided for this step because we are convinced that open and transparent reflection is indispensable to expose discriminatory structures and to dismantle them step by step, but in a sustainable way. We want to create accountability and make the IfZ more tangible. Thank you very much!
Preface: We would like to thank the representatives of the BIPoC community in Leipzig who gave us the idea for this format. At the beginning of June we invited several BIPoCs from the Leipzig club scene and/or BIPoCs who had bad experiences at the IfZ to a meeting. Our intention is to understand past mistakes in order to avoid them in the future and to create offers to make amends. With the silence or only internal discussion about many processes, we have hurt many people who do not have internal insights. The fear of saying the wrong thing, combined with the dilemma of not being able to express a unified IfZ opinion, has paralyzed us. We would like to apologize for this and do better from now on. This report is relatively long, because we would like to show many processes from the last 1-3 years.
Today we give you updates on:
Coming to terms with discrimination and discriminatory structures
Coming to terms with trans and queer discrimination
Coming to terms with racist structures & discrimination
Post on “Solidarity with Israel” from 2021
Incident with keffiyeh from 2021
“Techno was concerned with the problems of the future”
Community meetings & learnings
Farewell & job replacement
tl;dr: Finances – what about the club?
Spoiler: Not good at all. The maintenance of the club is using up all our resources and we don’t know how long it will last, nor what the future holds.
It’s not looking good. We are in serious financial difficulties.
The unforeseen worst case occurred mid-June with the demand for repayment of a Corona aid of 50.000 € from the state of Saxony. This is not much compared to the total amount of all Corona aid, but firstly, it is already the second Corona aid from the state of Saxony that we had to pay back – thanks for nothing at this point – and secondly, the money has been long spent for specific aim.
These 50,000€ were the buffer for wages and rent, with which we wanted to get through the event-free time in the summer. This will no longer be the case.
The real problem, however, is lack of revenue. The club has not really recovered since the pandemic. We are missing an average of 100 – 200 guests on weekends. Cultural enterprises, especially those like us that operate independently and are not institutionally supported, always work at the economic pain threshold, with high risk and very low profit margins. Profit does not mean personal or individual profit, but a necessary buffer for the next event that falls through, or more importantly: progressive concepts that do not appeal to the masses, but are culturally particularly valuable. This also means that small failures can already do great damage in terms of the flexibility and ability to act. And we have already passed the point of small failures.
Why is that?
The whole industry is in a bad condition. Clubs are closing all over Europe, festivals are cancelling their stages because they don’t sell enough tickets. Only huge EDM events disguised as something connected with the real techno scene or small DIY booths on a voluntary basis are working out. Partying, as everything else, has become more expensive, people think twice if and how often they can afford to go to a club. Culture is the first thing you cut back on when you’re short on cash. We personally feel the same way. Our cash income has not recovered after Corona and continues to drop steadily.
Furthermore, with the three years of pandemic, a whole generation of ravers missed the connection and integration into existing networks in the lively club communities, while the last generation deservedly left. This gap is to be observed by all venues in Europe – with the exception of a few big players, mostly in Berlin – “techno capital of the world”.
However, we cannot blame the others for it and have to take some responsibility as well. In recent years, we have often failed to find the right tone: external communication has been criticized for being too transparent or not transparent enough. Abbreviated reactions to political events have led to irritation, just as when we have not reacted at all. We did not sufficiently ensure that the club could be experienced as a safe space for marginalized parts of our community. We also failed to take good care of ourselves as a team and have lost some people due to too much mental workload. Musically, we didn’t pick up regulars or new people sufficiently well. We will go into more detail on these points below.
We don’t know how long it will continue, we would like to avoid price increases to remain as low-threshold as possible, but we can’t promise this. We are currently checking out all other possible options. In any case, we depend on your support as always.
Coming to terms with discrimination and discriminatory structures
tl;dr: Structurally, things are changing at the IfZ right now. We are working through past incidents of discrimination in the club and are currently developing a new concept for the door, the old door structure has been dissolved. Our selecting is BIPoC- and FLINTA*-only staffed. We train our whole crew with workshops about queerness, racism and dealing with victims of sexualized violence.
Coming to terms with trans and queer discrimination
In the past, there have been accusations of racist as well as trans- and queer-hostile behavior and statements. Patriarchal structures have taken on a life of their own within Secu AG and marginalized voices have been silenced. For too long, the club failed to intervene here in the spirit of the AG autonomy. Offers of help were not perceived sufficiently and purposefully on the part of Secu AG, trust in the club (especially in the office AG) was lacking, attempts to come to terms with the situation failed.
We are currently working on a new security concept that thinks and acts in a discrimination-sensitive way. The old structure no longer exists, there are only people in the AG, who want to go this way with us. There will be more application processes, there will be more info about that soon. We now want to look ahead and see this as an opportunity for a new season of door staffing that stands in solidarity behind a discrimination-sensitive concept and can also apply it in practice. Nevertheless, we would also like to make transparent how it came about:
At the beginning of the year a person, who was perceived as threatening by other guests who also wished not to share the room with the said person, was removed from an event. We act – especially at night, when our capacities do not allow us to apply other (e.g. transformative) concepts – according to the power of definition. This concept, as it turned out later, could not be shared by all IfZ Secus at that time, or not all of them were familiar with it. However, the shift manager of security that night could understand the needs of the guests and therefore decided to remove the said person. The person respected the request and left the club.
The situation escalated when several friends and acquaintances, including employees of the IfZ and the IfZ Secu at the time, intervened and tried to discuss the eviction. In the follow-up of this situation, which partly took place internally and informally directly afterwards, as well as in official AG plenary a week later, there were transphobic statements and unfair demands and consequences towards the shift manager of security and queer-hostile attitudes became visible in the discussion of the overall situation. From this point on, the AG was no longer able to deal with the conflict and the discriminatory statements on its own, and trans people from the AG had to stop working as a reaction to this, as their safety was no longer guaranteed. Affected persons from the AG turned to the office seeking help. In addition, several trans and queer people vetoed individual Secus at the club council (a procedure that had not existed before, and therefore lacked a handle, and processes were protracted and errors occurred). Thereupon several moderated meetings were initiated, which were carried out together with an office person, a club council person, as well as two support persons. First a chronology of the evening was worked out to reconstruct the course of events, since there was very loud criticism of the execution of the ejection on the part of some Secu members. Here consensus could be found together that the expulsion in the sense of the definition power and the procedures valid in the club, up to smaller subtleties, correctly expired. Furthermore, an attempt was made to discuss the accusations of trans hostility. There were first steps in the direction of understanding, reparation and “going to each other”, but only individual persons apologized to the affected persons, the persons who stood in solidarity behind the affected persons were outnumbered. With changing participants at the meetings, the dynamics have also changed. Other structural grievances within the AG also became visible. The power imbalance within the working group, the differences in knowledge in terms of awareness and the lack of willingness for self-reflection forced the moderation group to break off the process in its present form in order to prevent further injuries to the affected persons.
As this was a very unsatisfactory result and large parts of the Secu AG did not make their reflection processes transparent, the office, in consultation with affected persons and the club council, confronted the Secu AG with the collected accusations and demanded a structural change: a reform of the current Secu structure to be replaced by a “FLINTA* & Ally” concept. The idea was that once the concept is in place, everyone can check if they can stand behind it and then reapply in an application process that is also “checked” by queers. This proposal could not be communicated to the AG as it was intended, but was understood as a direct dismissal for all. The club council and office apologized for the procedural errors and their part in the escalation. In the end, all involved suffered from the lengthy workup and the dynamics took on a life of their own in gossip and proxy/ trench warfare that was relatively uncontrollable and could not be well contained.
The security strike
As a reaction to the poorly communicated proposal of the office and the club council, parts of the Secu AG published a few days later a statement with strike notice for the weekend – the IfZ birthday weekend – and called the club as well as other door crews and stores in Leipzig and nationwide to solidarity with the AG. The strike statement subsumed various criticisms of the office’s behavior and the club’s structures. While some of the demands of the Secu are understandable and justified, for example the temporary employment contracts and low pay, the timing of this industrial action seemed inappropriate and thus distracted from the needs and demands of affected queers in the club. Parts of the criticism of the Secu structures were acknowledged by the Secu, but a serious confrontation with the accusations and apologies to those affected were mostly absent from the striking part. The office as well as the club council reacted to the strike with their own statements and so further fractures within the crew could be prevented through many conversations and mutual understanding. A large part of the crew only learned about the extent of the conflict through the strike statement and here there was a lack of transparency within the club, for which the office must take responsibility. Parts of the Secu AG that did not participate in the strike were able to prevent a club closure on the birthday weekend together with external Secus. Offers of talks on the part of the office were not accepted by the strikers. In the end, external moderation help was needed several times as well as many individual discussions to resolve the irritations that had arisen as a result of the strike, which swallowed up many resources that were not available.
Would we do it that way again?
Yes. It is important to stand behind marginalized groups and individuals and, if necessary, to undermine important IfZ ground rules, such as AG Autonomy, in order to protect them. Nevertheless, we must learn from the formal mistakes that have been made.
We are sticking to the original plan to create a new IfZ Secu concept, will use the summer break intensively for this and plan to be ready for the start of the new season. The concept will be sensitive to discrimination, think about affected people and prepare our Secus, who should represent as many different perspectives and identities as possible, for these challenges. To this end, we are networking with FLINTA* doors nationwide and, thanks to a grant, have been able to organize and hold workshops this year on awareness of trans and queer hostility as well as anti-racism and dealing with victims of sexualized violence.
The new party crew “Saft” had its own answer to the lack of visibility of queers and their interests in the club. The crew sees itself as a queer* and political group in the IfZ and has set itself the task of making the IfZ more queer from the inside out and strengthening networks. The first two parties were already a great success and a strong fusion of queer* and BIPoC DJs and performances.
Reappraisal: racist structures & discrimination
Over the years, there have been several situations in which members of the BIPoC community were injured and discriminated against in the IfZ (by staff and guests), incidents of racist discrimination were not taken seriously enough and/or dealt with by the club, and specific moments of escalation. We will now go into more detail about some of these and would like to provide transparency about the current status.
We are aware of several situations where BIPoCs were turned away at the door or named racist treatment by IfZ staff during their stay at the club. For too long the club did not take this seriously enough, the exchange between Secu AG and the rest of the club was not sufficiently guaranteed, many incidents were probably not forwarded, there were only apologies in extreme cases to those affected.
Complaints from people who were turned away are received by the club almost every weekend However, knowing that such an experience as BIPoC is different from the experiences white people have, we could not practically implement. Internalized racism also influences the decision of who to classify as “appropriate for the party” and who not. This, too, was not reflected upon sufficiently or regularly enough. In addition, our door staff is predominantly white and here – as in all other places in the club – more perspectives and identities are needed to ensure respectful interaction even in difficult situations.
Our selecting is one of the most sensitive positions in the whole club and must be constantly questioned in a power-critical way. Currently, only queers* and BIPoCs work in this position and this should not change.
Post: “Solidarity with Israel
In May 2021, a rally call was shared via the IfZ Instagram account. On the flyer you can see “Solidarity with Israel” “Against all antisemitism”, the details of the rally and several logos or symbols: a Star of David, the logo of the IDF and the Antifa logo. This post was shared with the words “Against any antisemitism” and common demo instructions (watch out for each other, come in groups, use masks). At this point, the Israel-Palestine conflict has reached a new peak within the last decade and cost many lives, especially on the Palestinian side. From many BIPoCs the positioning towards Israel and lack of contextualization in combination with the logo of the IDF on the flyer was not only perceived as insensitive, but completely questioned whether the IfZ can be a safe place for them.
Keffiyeh – Incident
During a Music Of Color event in the summer of 2021, one person, who was already on the premises, put on her keffiyeh . She was then asked to take it off, as another person classified the scarf as a threatening and anti-Semitic symbol. Since the person wearing the scarf did not want to take it off, she was asked to leave with reference to house rules. More and more people became involved. The responsible night manager took the person with the scarf aside and both were able to have a very insightful and appreciative conversation with the result (discussed back with other staff members with interruption) that the person with the scarf could stay. It became clear through the conversation that enforcing the scarf ban misses its mark and that situations are sometimes too complex to resolve with an under-complex rules. In the meantime, the few IfZ staff members present were unable to calm the emotions running high among the event crew and supporters* and found themselves in a situation they perceived as threatening and charged. MoC was told that the person with the scarf could stay, but the clarifying talks (from address to clarification took about 2 hours) took too long for the organizers. The event was stopped by Music Of Color with reference to solidarity with the person wearing the scarf and many guests left the outdoor area in a closed manner.
The incident could not be conclusively dealt with until today. There were several attempts, none of which worked. There were also other lines of conflict that could not be resolved. With some people from Music Of Color we are still working together or are working together again very well and are in good contact, with others we are not and are now trying a new approach.
There never was and never will be a uniform position of all IfZ employees on the highly complex Israel-Palestine conflict. However, the IfZ has given this impression with its actions in the past and its communication to the outside world, and the positioning was also supported by the majority of the crew or hardly problematized. The clear stance against anti-Semitism must remain an indisputable consensus. How exactly this can look like, which perspectives get weight here, which red lines cannot be crossed, which role the BDS plays for cultural actors and which handhold a club like the IfZ can provide at all – all this has to be updated and discussed anew and we are just in the beginning of planning for this. Parts of the IfZ crew believe that a keffiyeh ban is out of date and does not sufficiently reflect their own role in a white majority society. Other parts are concerned that Jewish people who see the IfZ as a safer space will be deprived of space as a result. One thing is certain: Forms of discrimination should never be played off against each other. How we can implement this as a club in the future will show pending processes.
“Techno was concerned with the problems of the future”
In one of the most iconic places within IfZ is a quote from Underground Resistance or Mike Banks (aka Mad Mike) “Techno was concerned with the problems of the future.”
As part of an art action, the quotation was then attached to the column on TRAKT I by artist Vanessa A. Opoku (among other quotes in the club) attached to the column on TRAKT I. The club had an image of this work printed on towels (which were meant to symbolize the column) in two merch campaigns, generating revenue. While this was discussed with Vanessa A. Opoku, but no one from the IfZ has questioned the extent to which the revenue generated by this represents cultural appropriation. The citation has developed a life of its own over the years and has become more and more associated with the IfZ itself through its placement on the column. This was pointed out to the IfZ in 2020 by people from the Vary and rightly criticized in 2021 by people from Music Of Color, for which we would like to thank them. The process of coming to terms with this took too long (as so often in the IfZ), and too little responsibility was taken, but could now be fully completed with the following measures:
____All AGs have dealt with the problem and were able to understand the criticism
____The invisibility of black voices, the financial enrichment with it and the lack of awareness of it were problematic, due to a structurally racist view
____To make the origin of the quote visible again, the Underground Resistance logo and “mad mike banks” were added to the column (There was also discussion about removing the quote altogether, but this felt like “just painting over mistakes” and was therefore rejected)
____The club has directed all profits made from sales to the Underground Music Acadamy, a Detroit-based music school co-founded by Mike Banks of Underground Resistance
_____In return, there was initial feedback that we could have also supported a local BIPoC project, which we will definitely think about next time
Community Meetings & Learnings
tl;dr: We have met with representatives of the BIPoC community and are working through past hurts, fractures, and experiences of discrimination. We thank everyone who trusts us to do better and make BIPoC perspectives more visible and promoted in the club. This includes guests, the crew and artists! This format was also created as a measure for more accountability in these processes.
After the preparations already started last fall, the first community meeting with representatives of the Leipzig BIPoC community, who are actors of the club scene and/or had to make bad experiences at the IfZ, could finally take place at the beginning of June. We would like to thank you again for your honest words, your time and energy. We appreciate it. We would like to make some of the results of this meeting transparent and make clear which initial changes we were able to initiate as a result:
____Keeping silent about incidents is worse than writing a “not perfect” statement; it leaves people hanging and hurts feelings
____Fewer promises that can be kept creates authenticity and mutual trust
____The current club scene is structurally racist. We have to break through this together, create visibility and free resources for (left) BIPoC projects and artists
____There is a tension between IfZ as a company and as a collective, which we can’t resolve, but maybe find workarounds (aka the club actually has no money for structural work, but without structural work no club as we imagine it)
Tasks we are currently implementing
____We are looking at how community feedback can be applied to our structures, what adjustments can be made easily and where more (e.g.external help) is needed
____More transparency internally and externally
____We are currently updating our hiring criteria for positions and sensitizing ourselves to what it means and needs to include as many perspectives as possible in the club
____We are researching funding pots,that will enable further structural changes and hope to create a position that explicitly deals with diversity management and anti-discrimination and thinks about it intersectionally
____We will conduct workshops on trans and queer hostility this year,Anti-racism and dealing with victims of (sexualized) violence and bring the whole crew to a common level of knowledge
____We are already planning the next community meeting in October in order to stay in exchange and to tackle common processes for the future
Our wish is to create a space with the IfZ that all who visit it can shape and in which there can be solidarity, empowerment and pleasure. This requires rules and commitments that are intersectional and make marginalized perspectives explicitly visible.
Farewell & job replacement
After more than 9 years, we have to part with Wiebke in spring, who has done real wonders in the areas of human resources and accounting over the last few years. And even away from your actual tasks, it is hard to put into words what you have given to the club, Wiebke. So many conflict situations have ended well for everyone, especially because of your calmness and level-headedness. Without your mastermind many many problems could not have been prevented. Without your open ear many tears would not have dried. Your creativity has brought a highlight out of every dreariness and your sense of style has saved us from many embarrassing faux pas. We’ll save the rest of the praise, which no one like you has earned, for the proper farewell.
So dear accountants and personnel managers: Keep your eyes open from August on, we will advertise the position and give you more information about the tasks.
We are at the end of the first report. Feel free to email your feedback on the format to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading and your support.