- The team didn't respond to the allegations directly—some of which stretch back to former club Griessmühle—but instead replied with several changes in policy.
More allegations of racism and aggressive behaviour have emerged against the staff at Berlin venue Revier Südost and the team's former club, Griessmühle.
On August 18th, 2021, the American ballet dancer and activist Nicholas Rose posted a video to Instagram in which they accused members of the RSO team of racism and homophobia at a SYNOID party on August 15th. (RSO is the name of the venue within the Revier Südost complex.)
Rose described the incident, which resulted in them being ejected from the venue, as a "vicious personal attack." (Resident Advisor reached out to Rose, who didn't follow up with RA's interview request. Rose's personal Instagram page has since closed.) In response to the accusations, Revier Südost published three public statements via social media. The most recent statement, posted on August 23rd, included an apology to Rose while also saying that the employees involved "perceived and described the situation differently." Read the statements in full at the bottom of this piece.
In the wake of Rose's allegations, RA spoke to several other people who say they have experienced discriminatory and aggressive behaviour at RSO and Griessmühle. These incidents all allegedly took place between 2019 and 2021.
DJ Wells, who is friends with Rose, was also at the SYNOID party on August 15th, 2021. "Sunday was just so awful," he told RA, "the way the staff were treating the guests. Very nasty."
Wells, who is Black, described an altercation with one of the bouncers where the bouncer allegedly "shoved his fingers" into Wells's back after he lowered his face mask for "two seconds" to speak to a friend. Wells said that this heavy policing of the mask mandate continued throughout the party.
"It was harassment," he said. "It was so fucking rude. I can't remember having a nice interaction with any of the bouncers."
RA also spoke with Sedric Perry, a Philadelphia-born singer who recently spent time in Berlin. He described rude and aggressive behaviour by RSO staff at a party he hosted on October 17th, 2020, called Black Parade, which was "centered around Black pride and being a person of colour in Europe," he told RA.
Perry said the treatment from RSO staff towards him and the 400 or so attendees was "terrible from the moment I walked in." At one point, after a panel discussion on how to navigate predominantly white spaces, Perry said that he and the other panelists were standing around talking in the green room. According to Perry, a staff member then entered and said, in German first then English, "What the fuck are you guys doing? Why the fuck are you standing here in the middle of the doorway?"
Perry told RA that he repeatedly caught staff members "freaking out" at the attendees, which he found ironic given the event was about promoting and promising safety. He said that some staff members even apologised for their behaviour at the end of the party, though others did not.
Perry also said that he felt his attendees were being treated differently from attendees elsewhere in the venue, which had been divided into two sections for two separate parties. When he first arrived, Perry said he was in the wrong party. He alleges that the "mostly white" crowd in this section weren't all wearing face masks and weren't being policed as aggressively by the staff.
"They had all the patience in the world," he said. "I had to really see that in real time. I was like, 'Wow, they really don't respect our existence.' It's sad, you know what I mean?"
Another report of alleged mistreatment came from Yann Mathan, a Frenchman who moved to Berlin in 2015. The incident, which he detailed shortly after via his own Instagram account, allegedly took place at an RSO Open Air event on July 24th, 2021.
At the end of the night, Mathan said he was using the bathroom when the cubicle door was rammed into his back by two bouncers, who allegedly accused him of being a drug dealer before grabbing him and telling him to "get the fuck out." Mathan said he denied the accusation.
Mathan said a third bouncer then joined the situation, leaving him alone in the toilets with the three staff members. Mathan said he agreed to be searched as long as the bouncers didn't touch him again.
"I do not like being touched because I'm on the spectrum," he told RA. "It was very overwhelming, being grabbed, shouted at and having to explain myself. Really confusing."
Next, Mathan said that one of the bouncers took out his smartphone and began taking photos of Mathan, who said he was ducking and blocking his face to avoid being photographed. The bouncers then allegedly told Mathan that they would call the police if he continued not to cooperate. Mathan said he was fine with this because he had "nothing to worry about."
Mathan told RA that he thought the bouncers had no intention of calling the police. He said they just wanted to take pictures and ban him "for no reason." Eventually, Mathan said he would "do it properly" and call the police himself. He said the bouncers then fell silent and let him leave.
Mathan, who says he has worked as an awareness, safety and consent agent at other clubs in Berlin, put the incident down to a "lack of proper training" and "not meeting people halfway."
"I will definitely not be going back there," he added.
Also not returning to RSO is Cocktail D'Amore, one of the venue's most popular events. The party was carried over from Griessmühle, the Neukölln venue that closed in early 2020. Cocktail D'Amore announced its departure from RSO via social media on August 20th, 2021.
In the statement, Cocktail D'Amore said that it has tried "many times to address incidents of violence at RSO and Griessmühle" and that "RSO should commit to doing better by investing resources (eg. Time AND money) [sic] into training bouncers and staff so that they can address racial inequality, discrimination, and harassment in the industry."
RA spoke to another former promoter at Griessmühle who described a "whack-a-mole situation" of racist incidents involving door staff. (The promoter, who worked with the club in the 2010s, asked to remain anonymous.) On one occasion, in 2019, the promoter said that a Black man from Amsterdam was singled out with a torch on the dance floor and strip-searched in a bathroom. The bouncers allegedly accused him of being a drug dealer, but found no drugs.
The promoter also said that the bouncers routinely requested ID cards from attendees as a way of abusing their power and refusing entry. The promoter told RA that "no other clubs do that" and that it "mostly" happened to "people of colour."
The promoter added that they repeatedly raised incidents like the strip-search and the ID card requests with Griessmühle's management team via email, but "management constantly ignored them, saying they weren't racist." (RA has seen some of these emails and can confirm that repeated requests were made.) "They never gave a shit," the promoter said.
RA presented the allegations made by Wells, Perry, Mathan and the anonymous promoter to the RSO team. Instead of responding to the allegations directly, RSO said in a statement to RA that "recent incidents made it clearly evident that we were not meeting our own standards in every area of our club."
The statement added that RSO would be "implementing necessary changes," such as training its entire staff on conflict resolution and diversity and inclusion awareness, with help from "a diverse team of experts, including music industry DEI trainer Lindi Delight." RSO said that this training had already started and will be mandatory when on-boarding all new team members.
RSO has also committed to setting up "an external awareness team that will attend our events, acting as a go-to for guests who have experienced any form of wrong-doing, harassment, or discrimination." Legendary Berlin bouncer Smiley Baldwin has been hired to oversee "the reorganization and management of the security team moving forward."
Read RSO's three public statements published after Nicholas Rose's allegations surfaced. The venue, which shut the weekend following Rose's allegations to "fully concentrate" on the situation, remains closed.
August 18th, 2021
August 19th, 2021
August 23rd, 2021