This was an unplanned first visit to Sven Väth's brand new and much publicized Cocoon Club. A friend IM'ed and talked me into it by saying he was going to go for sure to see Mss Kittin and why don't I join.
Coming to the club there was a line of about 40-50 people. A scan of those revealed quite a range of types: from the techno clubber to the normal to the fashionable. The whole door set-up with a noticeably large number of bouncers, all dressed in black suits, roped-off entry and a chic girl handling the guest list was the first revelation of this being a "super-club" more than an underground party venue. However, in an apparent departure form reports from the first few weeks of the club there didn't seem to be any "face checks", i.e. all types of people and outfits were admitted. In the hall just before the cashier a security was performed using metal detectors. Another hint that this was not so much about drugged-up partying but an upscale affair.
The club is comprised of the entire ground floor of a large industrial building of triangular shape. The center of that is the equally triangularly shaped main room, enclosed by a 7 foot wide wall housing various open and closed "cocoons". The open ones feature padded seating inviting patrons to hang out, chill and relax. The closed ones, with large window to either side of the wall, i.e. overlooking the main floor to the inside, are up for rent for 300 euros for 3 hours without service and 1,000 euros with service. feature additional gadgets such as a club surveillance system allowing guests to peek at various corners of the club via a monitor connected to cameras installed throughout the club.
After passing security and the cashier, one enters into a wide hallway surrounding the entire triangular main room of the club. To the right, the restaurant "Micro" is located, after dinner time converting to the smaller house floor of the club, complete with a dance floor and a fairly large bar. In the back of the bar area is a glass door leading to the ultra-chic Restaurant "Silk", decorated all white, where meals are enjoyed lying down on large white couches.
Walking down the hallway, the first bend turns out to be an entry into the main room, as are the two other corners of the triangle. A first glimpse into the main room seems to confirm the hype about the spectacular design of the club. However, continuing the walk down the hallway, it gives way to a chill out area with ample seating, all with comfortable white padding. At the far end of the seating area is a bar and, to the right, the entryway to the bathrooms. Finally, the third outer wall is completely bland and undecorated, except for a section of vending machines. Yes, vending machines, for drinks actually, in case the lines at the bars are too long or something. This being Cocoon Club, they are not just vending machines, but they are hidden in a larger, floor to ceiling panel of brushed aluminum, revealing just the selection buttons, coin slots and the receiving tray. Pretty cool design.
At last, entering the main room reveals a club design never seen before. The walls, made of white plaster, are a kind of irregular, double-layered grid resembling a coral reef. The purpose of that is to give video animations projected onto it a three-dimensional appearance. The effect is stunning. The ceiling is slightly domed and all black, making it seem much higher than it actually is. The three sides of the room are quite different: the one side is more or less open space, with one or two platforms for go-go dancers. The second wall features a bar plus an elevated and roped off area with table and bottle service. The third wall, however, boasts the centerpiece of the club: the huge DJ booth, looking like a giant brain cell suspended from the ceiling by synapses. Its smooth, white surface also acts as a screen for mesmerizing video projections. the middle of the room has the multi-leveled dance floor. Some of the steps have strobe lights built into them, producing some eerie effects when activated. Another striking feature are the nitrogen jets, one of which centered above the dance floor, immediately invoking memories of Amnesia. This is just a jet, though, lacking the fierce power making the Amnesia one the world famous cannon it is. The sound system, being an almost $ 1 million Steve Dash System, unsurprisingly delivers superb sound quality although the volume was never turned to a level where the true quality could be fully appreciated.
Now, what about the party? While the design features of the club certainly earns a 10/10 rating and the sound an 8/10, potentially more, the crowd is at the other extreme of the spectrum with 0/10. The clubber fraction, representing maybe 10% or at most 20% of patrons, was a in the clear minority. The remainder could be grouped in three categories: first, the see-and-be-seen types, dressed in suits and fancy dresses, obviously having no clue about the music, probably not knowing the name of the DJ and in fact finding it difficult to dance to this type of music. Second, the ageing bar flies, wanting to go out for drinks with their wife or mistress, as the case may be, looking and probably feeling slightly out of place in this environment. And third, the undefinable range of people, from the rather "normal" to the meatheads. Another oddity were the supposedly internationally casted go-go dancers: the girls admittedly being very beautiful, lightly dressed, the guys were not so beautiful. One of them was quite obviously casted from the wrong scene, gauging by his outfit and style of dancing having been taken straight out of a hip hop club. Most striking was all of the dancers inability to properly dance to techno music, struggling to make the best of it.
Now, with this concoction of a crowd it was impossible to get any kind of party spirit. Vibe, what vibe? Yells or hands in the air, very uncommon, just the somewhat exotic clubber types doing that occasionally. Only after about 4 am, when most of the category 1 and 2 people had left, the night turned into some semblance of a party.
Summary: certainly a fantastic club measured by design and sound. Yet to the extent clubbing is defined by the love for music, by celebrating a music-inspired party with like-minded strangers-yet-friends, the concept fails. The attempt to fuse techno culture and money culture was controversial well before the opening for the club in July 2004 and apparently is not working. Some rethinking, some revamping of the concept may yet lead the club to the success it deserves, though." />
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