Berlin - Police out in Berlin ensuring compliance with the city’s corona rules over the weekend broke up a party being held by a sex-positive art collective at Mitte’s Alte Münze on Saturday night. 

Guests were sent home after police arrived and determined it was impossible to maintain minimum distancing. "There were simply too many people for too little space," police said. In a tweet published on Saturday, the event was dubbed a "fetish party".

The event organiser Pornceptual, an art collective which throws sex-positive parties as well as creating pornographic art and a magazine, could now face legal proceedings over the incident. Police confirmed that organisers ended the party when officials asked them to do so, and the guests were immediately sent home.

However the collective has since put out its own statement, claiming the party was a “legal open air event with strict rules” and a rigorous hygiene concept, which it says eyewitnesses can vouch for. This included guests’ temperatures being taken on arrival and a security team making sure masks were being worn at all times.

The organisers also claimed police were “misinformed” on the current corona rules, were “looking for reasons” to shut the party down and treated attendees with disrespect.

"When the Office of Public Order arrived and asked us to stop the event, we collaborated [with them] and asked all guests to leave the premises as instructed. In the meantime, we had several cops entering the event and stopping guests to fine them individually,” the statement reads. "Our guests were treated as freaks and outlaws and humiliated by the police."

The organisers added that media outlets had also singled out their party for its sex-positive nature, ignoring the fact that theirs was not the only open-air events shut down by police on Saturday night. They said being part of the fetish community had been painted as “shameful”, and that one police officer involved in dismissing the party had used the words “disgusting and perverted” at the scene.

“This was not only an attack on culture but also its minorities,” the statement concluded. “We will keep standing up regardless of all the difficulties of these times. We will stand up for our community and fight for our space in this city.”

A statement from venue Alte Münze said the party was shut down by police at 9pm, one hour before it was due to finish, and claimed “social distancing and wearing a mask at the same time while being outdoors is not part of the current regulations”. The statement also condemned the use of “scandalous language” like "fetish party" to “deliberately criminalise a permitted event”.

City-wide police checks

The party was shut down amid a dedicated police operation on Saturday which saw hundreds of officers out on the street making sure Berlin’s corona safety laws were being observed. The deployment of 1000 officers during the day, half of them from Germany’s federal police, was approved by Berlin's interior minister Andreas Geisel (SPD) and German government interior minister Horst Seehofer (CSU).

From Saturday, masks had to be worn and minimum distancing upheld at open air markets and on 10 designated shopping streets. Between 80 and 90 per cent of those out in Berlin on Saturday were wearing face coverings and kept the required safety distances, according to a joint press release by the Berlin police and the federal police.

However, a total of 23 administrative offence proceedings had to be initiated against people who didn’t have a mask with them or refused to wear one. Five criminal proceedings were initiated by the emergency services for offences including insulting and resisting officers and forgery of documents.

As evening came, it became apparent that compliance with the mask requirements was visibly decreasing. Police reportedly checked around 4,000 for compliance with the safety rules on Saturday night, and had “preventative discussions” with around 1,000 of them. 51 bars and restaurants and 14 shops were also checked. The checks led to approximately 280 offences being registered between 6pm and 2am.

The police deployment to ensure compliance with the corona rules on Saturday was mainly aimed at illegal parties and the catering industry, most of which are subject to a night-time curfew. 

This article was adapted for the English edition by Elizabeth Rushton.