Speak to anyone who is familiar with Berlin nightlife and you'll quickly discover that Club De Visionaire occupies a unique place within many conversations. Once the inevitable conversation about tactics of getting into Berghain on a Saturday is out of the way, it's not uncommon for an opinion on Club De Visionaire to be aired soon after. And why not? The bar nestled by the water is a favoured beginning or end point to many nights out for both tourists and locals. What is surprising though is just how wildly these stories and opinions vary. For every person with a tale about a lost afternoon spent lying underneath the trees or a chance encounter with a surprise guest DJ, there are just as many people willing to write the venue off because of its volume limitations or music policy.
It was clear recently, however, that its "Winter Opening Weekend" would not be the usual CDV experience. The music, normally suppressed to a low level due to complaints from neighbours, was given a boost so that a kick drum was actually audible from the other side of the bridge. After being closed for around a month to prepare for the winter season, the grand re-opening event spanned four days. The venue's usual practice of not announcing the full line-up until shortly before opening was scrapped. Most knew the majority of the guests weeks in advance, with sets from Raresh and Rhadoo drawing in a sizable crowd. The leisurely pace of the crowd arriving and leaving in small groups was instead replaced by the usually unseen sight of a long queue with larger groups shuffling away dejected, mumbling something about "giving Chalet a try."
CDV's preparations for the winter seemed to fall in line with that of the city: move inside, huddle together for warmth and hope for the best. Here it's clear to see that the changes to the venue to prepare for the cold weather have affected the dynamics of the night somewhat. The areas of the club that are usually exposed were now sealed off, whilst the increased number of people in attendance meant that the dance floor was full and extended itself well beyond its normal space, snaking down past the second bar. The pontoon that serves as a much as a focal point as the dance floor during the warmer months now lay almost empty.
Friday night saw a secret extended set from Ricardo Villalobos, going back-to-back with Raresh. Their performance divided opinion. Some were clearly so thrilled to see Ricardo in a small space at such little expense that they would be willing to forgive a multitude of sins, others complained that he wasn't taking enough risks by sticking to his "Cocoon sound" although the majority of what he played did seem to be new material. Overall it seemed to work well on the understated system, but news of the surprise appearance spread and the place quickly became unbearably busy. The passover into Raresh going back-to-back with resident Binh was tight to the point of almost being flawless and it was clear that, for this particular sound, there was no better place to be.
Returning the following evening the crowd numbers had barely dropped but the crowd fell a little more in line with what can usually be expected at CDV. For every couple of fresh-faced newcomers collecting their first beer, there was at least one body slumped by the seats awaiting a second wind to carry on the party. And while the excitement caused by last night's surprise set had died down, plenty of people were still enjoying the efforts of the CDV residents. Things showed no signs of slowing down. Perhaps this explains the mixture of opinions surrounding CDV, it's a venue which favours parties that last longer than many others and its tendency to host surprise guest appearances means some visitors feel that they have witnessed something truly special, while others feel that they've missed out.