Affectionately called a shithole by regulars, they don’t necessarily mean it like that. It’s their lovely shit hole.
Once you have passed the judging eyes of the bouncer who seems to be a mixture of a buddha and Santa Clause and pay 1€, that is supposed to keep away the people that don’t quite fit in, one enters this opaque, smokey and surprisingly small joint. Almost half of the place is taken by the counter. One wall is completely taken by a movie screen that often shows weird snippets including Russian dancers, 60’s B movies or early film noirs, and a little stairway that leads to the actual shithole. It is so dark in there it is really hard to see.
While weekdays are sometimes mellow it certainly can get quite full on weekends. Then, and especially during summer, people are standing outside underneath the marquee, drinking their whiskey-sour (the best in town!) or their Melloch shots.
Melloch, you ask? Right, it is the ‘house-schnapps’ and only available at 8MM. Alex ‘Olli’ Konuk, born in Washington D.C. and owner of this bar (besides some of the barkeepers now), produces this brew that consists of 50% orange liquor and 50% herbal liquor. And it tastes like heaven: not as bad as Jägermeister, much smoother in its aftertaste. But that’s not all that Olli has to offer: there’s also 8MM’s little sister Melloch Bar on Greifswalder Straße. It focuses more on cocktails and the main ingredient is – you guessed it right – Melloch schnapps.
But he also owns a record label called – quelle surprise – 8MM MUSIK. It is or was the home of bands such as The Blue Angel Lounge, DYN, Jawbones, Gunman and the Holy Ghost, Singapore Sling and more. And then there is the Synästhesie Festival that takes place from time to time and featured bands like Michael Rother plays NEU!, The Warlocks, Tess Parks, Cavern of Anti-Matter, Crocodiles and Lumerians. This year it is happening again on November 19th at Volksbühne with bands like The Horrors, Camera, PINS and more…
So just like the label this dive bar on Schönhauser Allee is the home of people who love dark Psychedelic and Garage music, as well as Krautrock, experimental, punk and New Wave. But it’s way more than that. It is home to a lot of regulars, with a high percentage of expats. Especially people from English speaking countries like the UK, USA and New Zealand are part of the ‘scene’.
But this ‘scene’ is more than a bunch of ‘cool kids’ in tight trousers. They are almost like a family, the 8MM BAR is their living room and the barkeepers take better care of you than your mama. It might be tough to get into those seemingly weird group of humans… but would you let anybody let into your family or – less sententious – your circle of friends?
A lot has been said about what bands have spent their official and unofficial after show parties there. But again it doesn’t matter who was there but what derives from this place. Quite a number of new talents played their first gigs on an improvised stage with a PA that is definitely not made for live shows inside this venue. This is really what matters!
Probably a reason why Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre is often seen inside 8MM DJing or drinking a last one before he heads home. He wanted to start a revolution. And if the barkeepers are like a mother, Anton is certainly the grumpy dad, while the ‘cool kids’ who go there almost every night of the week are their children – their Children of the Revolution.
Next Synästhesie Festival: click!