Ever since reading an article four years ago about Frankfurt's Cocoon Club, a visit to the venue has been high on my bucket list. Subsequent trips to Cocoon's summer home of Amnesia and nights spent dancing manically to Sven Väth in The End only served to amplify my enthusiasm. It would be hard to understate how excited I was about finally getting a chance to visit the much revered night spot when I went there this week.
The centerpiece of Väth's all conquering techno empire, Cocoon Club is widely regarded as one of the best in the world for both its cutting-edge design and star-studded DJ line-ups. A quick glance at the club's website shows upcoming talent includes Luciano, DJ Hell, Richie Hawtin and, of course, Väth himself. However, on the night I attended it seemed that big name acts had been eschewed in favor of a talented youth like Onur Özer, Christian Burkhardt, Markus Fix and Robert Dietz.
On entering the club at around 11.30 I was instantly drawn to the hugely imposing white DJ booth that was suspended above the largely empty room. On closer inspection though, I noticed that no one was in it and the DJ booth was actually tucked away in the corner of the club. Apart from this, the look of the club lived up to all the hyperbole. The restaurant inside looked sleek and stylish, the lighting was minimalist but simultaneously mesmerizing, the dancers were among the most talented and beautiful I've seen and the famous white leather pods and honeycomb walls were actually even smarter than I'd imagined.
However, as time passed it began to seem less and less like the club was actually going to live up to the expectation. As Christian Burkhardt took over from Chris Tietjen, there was no switch to the main DJ booth, a feature which is often one of the main talking points of the club. Although the dance floor had plenty of people enjoying themselves, there were still too many bodies on the peripherals talking and standing around to really take the party up a notch. The club's ice cannons, which I'd heard could compete with the famous dry ice artillery in Amnesia, kept misfiring—an unfortunate metaphor for the way the night was going.
Despite all this, the music being played was spectacular. Christian Burkhardt's live set was an undulating journey through stripped down tech that peaked and troughed in all the right places. The intro alone, a loop from Sisqo's ridiculous R&B hit "Thong Song," was the definition of thinking outside the box and the inclusion of Burkhardt's own "Doubledub" predictably caused chaos among those who were paying attention. Onur Özer, who followed, played a set of beautifully stripped down house full of sparse musical touches; displaying perfectly why the Turkish DJ has been gaining such a devastating reputation of late. Unfortunately, just as Onur began to get into his stride the majority of the club decided to leave—leading to a fairly farcical situation where the main room was shut and everyone who remained was ushered into the VIP room.
In spite of that, this is where the party actually got really interesting. With three DJ's left and only one room to play, the decision was made for Özer, Markus Fix and Robert Dietz to play back to back. The slightly effeminate Onur, the comparably burly Fix and the smaller Dietz looked like an unlikely bunch on stage but their sound gelled perfectly. In the hot-house environment of the smaller room, a great afterparty vibe was quickly established and the music changed accordingly. The tempo slowed, the kick drums became more pronounced and weird bells and snippets of house classics seemingly sprung from nowhere causing those who had stayed to lose their minds. Witnessing an ad-lib bit of DJ'ing is always fun in a club environment, but when it works as well as it did here it felt like a reward for persevering with a night that seemed at one point like it might fizzle out.
Although I failed to see Cocoon at its best I still managed to see glimpses of how great it could be on a big night. The sound and lighting are amazing, the drinks are relatively cheap (compared to London at least) and the music was indisputably fantastic. However, this is all meaningless if there aren't enough people to fill the club. It must be said that a trip to Robert Johnson the following night was also very quiet and many people I spoke to said they were saving themselves for the Minus night at Cocoon the following Friday. Whatever the case, I would still highly recommend a trip to the club even though on this occasion it may have not have seemed worth the four year wait.