Berlin- a city so vibrant and full of opportunities, is also a home of many special experiences when it comes to art, culture and music. When one lives here, sometimes it can be even overwhelming the sheer amount of events happening at the same time, and all of them great. Often our raving choices for the weekend are driven by the love for a certain club or an artist, or a certain experience, but what we will find if we try to get a level deeper into the local culture is fascinating.
One of the best things about cities like Berlin is that people here are free to express themselves culturally, and at the same time, they are curious to discover different ways in which they can experience it as well. This mix of curiosity and freedom leads many people to having unconventional experiences, which push the boundaries of the predetermined constraints of society, and in a way allow to bring creativity on a higher level too. Today we are going to present you one of these people and his concept, which without a doubt is one of the best truly underground event series in Berlin at the moment.
Founded in 2017 Strictly Forbidden is a radically new approach to the night experience. With their committed focus on bringing together divergent modes and methods of entertainment, Strictly Forbidden ultimately grants permission to those who want to experience, engage, and entertain a night that transcends boundaries. They are achieving that by uniting DJs, live acts/performance acts, installations, and A/V effects. Strictly Forbidden invites and encourages artists from diverse backgrounds to innovate ideas through collaboration, and the cultivation of concepts.
We sat down with Michael Nayda, founder of Strictly Forbidden, who gives us an insight into the experience and organization behind it.
Hi Michael, nice to see you today! Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey, I’m Michael and am the owner of Strictly Forbidden. I am originally from Berlin, and of course as any young person I enjoyed my time going out as well. Being part of constantly shifting and evolving communities in my childhood inspired me a lot, but also gave me the urge to at least try and create a safe space for fragile souls like myself. In a way Strictly was that attempt, and I believe I found a way to connect with people and Berlin through artistic expression and patterns.
When and how did you come up with the idea and start Strictly Forbidden?
It’s more like Strictly came to me and I’m still processing and expanding the condition of being carried on. The first event took about 6 months in planning and preparations, and at this point already I realised that it is more than just a party project, more like a life journey. This is a project intended to focus on the community and the social aspect rather than the mainstream music business. Strictly is all about collaboration! We are always trying to bring different people together, they do their thing and in the end we are left with an unforgettable and very diverse and provocative experience. Music, installations, artists, A/V shows are brought together to accumulate different energies, which are not to be understood but experienced. For me the social aspect is the main thing though – connecting with people, sharing the experience.
What’s the biggest lesson for you so far as an organizer?
Biggest lesson from the journey of Strictly so far is to always help out and be able to give this little kick that we all need sometimes in order for creativity to start flowing. Do not dominate, go back and let them do.
How do you find or decide about the artists that participate in Strictly?
We try to keep our booking process instead of naturalizing it, we are encountering the artists through shared ethos. We always look to expand the concept not limit it. The most exciting thing is to focus on the creation of close communication between diverse genres with the intention to build from that a fusion experience being always in process.
"Always help out and be able to give this little kick that we all need sometimes in order for creativity to start flowing. Do not dominate, go back and let them do."
Most favourite event so far?
Each event feels like the first time. We have had 8 editions so far, and all of them were held at Arena Club Berlin. I don’t have a most favourite event so far, because every time it’s a different experience and they are all special on their own and very hard to compare. I guess for me the best part is when we grow together with different collectives and we find new common desires. Networking is crucial to any journey in our scene.
Do you have any ideas where is Strictly moving for its upcoming events after the closure of Arena?
We reconstructed our concept and ideas and we will introduce that to you very soon. For now we can just say that the location will reflect our concept and diverse background.
What do you think about the music/party scene in Berlin at the moment? Well, I see Berlin as a small bubble which link to growing up inside of, but I think I wouldn’t be satisfied for it to stay in the current state that it has reached.
How did you meet and connect with Clarisse and how did she become the most vivid resident of Strictly Forbidden?
The story of our meeting is rather classic – two likeminded people met and recognized that immediately and became friends. A few words about her development over the whole time: She is really shaping the sound of the brand, shaping a character and from my point of view it's amazing to see her artistic journey alone. She believes in the concept and puts her heart into developing it, which means a lot to me and makes our symbiosis when working together stronger.
Taking Strictly Forbidden international, how was the experience?
It was not exactly Strictly Forbidden party. We support our friends from Build Your Tribe who are running a queer event series in Istanbul. So we support their intentions to create a safe place and a gender equal line up. We brought Clarisse and Charly Schaller to join their line up, which was kind of our contribution to the cause.
Strictly Forbidden worked before with Styks and Basicdisarm, both audio-visual and performance artists. Actually the creative process, brainstorming and communication are just flowing. Next to that the whole collective shares the same spirit, which made our international experience very lovely.
Would you do it again?
I mean our dreams are filled with people right? We dream about our families, friends and so on. I guess we all carry our own unique message. If the person is known to you, I find we should think about the relationship itself. Because we always learn about ourselves through others. And as Strictly Forbidden is mainly focused on collaborations, I can say that probably our most valuable asset is our relationships. So when there are opportunities, we will do it again.
In fact, our next collaboration will be with Build Your Tribe and we are looking forward to introduce to you our relationship and to share with you a lovely experience.
What advice would you give to people who would like to start a similar journey or create a concept or just express themselves creatively in Berlin?
I’m not sure if I’m the right person to give an advice, but what I can share is that being curious is very important. Also, do not try to produce what people imagine that it should be, instead interact more with your environment and make something out of it. The most important thing in my opinion is what your intentions are and how would you guide the community to them.
Poster Design: Lola Rossi
Black and white Photography: Nina Klein
We have an exclusive podcast from resident C l a r i s s e to give you another layer to the Strictly Forbidden experience after this read! Click on the link and dive deep into the music. It is definitely a high intensity journey!