Salon – Zur wilden Renate – one of Berlin’s best-known clubs – has come under fire for failing to take action against resident DJ duo Peak & Swift for ongoing racist behavior. The club’s owners have issued a statement of apology and promised to implement a series of measures preventing such incidents from happening in the future.
Peak & Swift (real names Jan Kähler and Benedict Bogenberger) have been accused of racial harassment by Renate’s former PR manager, Karim Molyneux-Berry. In text message and WhatsApp transcripts shown to Resident Advisor and Mixmag, Kähler and Bogenberger admitted to two of the instances and apologized. Prior to Molyneux-Berry speaking out, they had parted ways with the club.
In a June 2019 email to Renate’s general manager, Tony Ettelt, and HR coordinator, Linda Osman, Molyneux-Berry, who is half English and half Egyptian, recounted how Kähler and Bogenberger told him he was from Africa even though he was born and raised in London. “It then became more,” he wrote. “I asked for it to stop a few times. Then it got more. I [was] called N***** a few times. I was even told ‘I’m your master and you’re my n*****. I was asked to call him my master. I did. I’m not sure if at this point I realized how bad it is what was happening. It got to the point where he called me that in front of people.”
Molyneux-Berry also said that he came back to work after New Year’s Eve to find the N word written on his desk calendar. He shared a snap of the calendar with coworkers in a WhatsApp conversation, and Bogenberger responded, “Welcome back [partying smiley face emoji],” then: “And sorry [cringing face emoji], this is not funny at all.”
“I really love Renate. I love the people from the bouncers to bar staff, and I also love how open and ready to grow you are as the owners,” wrote Molyneux-Berry in his email to Ettelt and Osman. “Every time I came to you with reasonable observations you agreed as management.”
“As it stands these are the main reasons why I am still in the company, however it can not continue like this,” he went on. “I feel that the racism is not on the surface, as I know they like me, but a deep rooted prejudice. I honestly do not think it will stop, if as it stands they haven’t stopped after over a year of me telling them both to stop. It seems that when things get back to normal and we are working well, it’s taken as a green light to resume a sense of humour that is lacking in any sense of the sensitivity that should be basic to two young international people living in Berlin in 2019.”
After he reached out to Ettelt and Osman, Molyneux-Berry said that the three of them scheduled a meeting. He recalled asking them in person to require all club employees to take sensitivity training – which they didn’t until 2020.
Molyneux-Berry said his contract with the club was terminated in November 2019 for dubious reasons. Management allegedly told him they didn’t like his PR style or the fact that he couldn’t speak German, which was the first he’d heard of either issue since taking the role in April 2017.
On October 11th, Salon – Zur wilden Renate’s management addressed the dispute in a statement. “We are deeply sorry for what happened and for the hurt that was caused,” reads a passage. “We have been taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again within our team, club or event space moving forward.”
The statement touched on anti-racism training and anti-discrimination policies introduced by Renate in the wake of 2020’s worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. Additionally, the club’s management promised similar training for security staff courtesy of the Berlin Club Commission. “More plans are also in discussion but cannot be implemented immediately due to the ongoing pandemic and its effects on our daily business,” they wrote. “We are committed to this work.”
Salon – Zur wilden Renate declined an interview request from Resident Advisor.