„PANKE“ and „Quinoa“: new life in the courtyard

Photo: PANKE e.V.

Hidden in the fifth courtyard of Gerichtstr. 23, the promised lands of Panke e. V. can be found. Since its opening two years ago, Panke has been an oasis for musicians, artists and people looking for a place to party at Wedding. Weddingweiser is trying to find out more about the place and explores the venue, which is covered in mysterious green platine-light. Justas, Erika and Claudia, who run the place and the newly opened bistro, “Quinoa” talk about their ideas:

WW: Justas, Erika, you are from Lithuania, right? What brought you to Wedding? How did you get to run a place like Panke e.V.?

Justas: Well, we came here from Lithuania after our Bachelor degrees and wanted to learn German and then start our Master programmes here… And then we found this place here!! It hadn’t been used for over 60 years, and it seemed so perfect. We spent about a year restoring it before we were able to open.

Erika: It was really some sort of accident that brought us to this. We just saw this place and had so many ideas. First, we just saw this as the perfect opportunity for music, and bringing musicians and artists together. We also wanted to have a nice, cosy café, ‘cause these things are kind of rare in Wedding. We basically wanted to have a multifunctional space for all sorts of different things.

WW: If you compare these ideas that you had in your mind to what is happening now at Panke e.V., do you think you realized what you saw in this place when you first found it?

Erika: We’ve definitely got a multifunctional, multipurpose venue here with all sorts of different things going on, like concerts, parties, exhibitions, installations, workshops, performances and so on.

Justas: Yeah, we wanted a beautiful, cosy café and space for artists, and that is happening here now.

WW: Was it hard for you to open a place like this in Wedding? How did you deal with all the bureaucracy?

Erika: It wasn’t that bad at all… We basically just didn’t negotiate the regulations at all, because we couldn’t – we just did what we were told to do, so now we’re probably Berlin’s safest club when it comes to following the regulations… (laughs)

WW: You’ve been here for three years now – what has changed within the last few years in Wedding?

Justas: I’m going to tell you something you won’t find or hear anywhere else: There’s no real gentrification going on here. Not all that much has changed, really. Well, there are more people coming to Wedding, but there still aren’t many tourists. The people just haven’t changed all that much.

WW:What do you know about the venue, about Gerichtstr. 23? There seem to be a lot of different things going on in this building… Are you connected to these groups, too?

Erika: Yeah, there’s Tangoloft, for example, and there’s a gallery… Also, there are some people who want to open a club. We’re all neighbours, and of course we have meetings and help each other out. It’s always great if someone starts something new in Wedding, so we support each other.

WW: Claudia, “Quinoa” is the new addition to the Panke-family. A vegan and vegetarian bistro in Wedding, how does that come about?

Claudia: Oh, we just started the bistro about one month ago, and so far it is going pretty well. Opening a vegan place is a challenge, but it is also exciting. We’ve already got some regulars who come almost every day. In Wedding, there aren’t all that many options for vegetarians or vegans so we fill a gap here.

WW: How did you come to running a vegetarian bistro in Wedding?

Claudia: I come from Italy, and I came to Berlin a few years ago. I started organizing random dinners at random places with random people, because I wanted to connect people. Then I opened a place in Kreuzberg. A friend introduced me to Erika and Justas, and it worked out – now Quinoa is my new baby. I started living vegan six months ago, and it changes you. I’ve been used to cooking with meat and fish, so vegan cooking is very exciting and new to me.

WW: What can we expect from “Quinoa” in the future?

Claudia: We’ll have the regular bistro, but we’ll also host events like performance dinners. Also, we are dreaming of starting a market for local goods and farm products. We want to invite local people and farmers, we are dreaming of having a space for people to connect and share.

WW: What are future plans for Panke e.V.?

Erika: We want to get big! (laughs) We’ve kind of finished building the place – I mean, it will never be finished, but we’re on a good way. Now, we can invest in new projects and branch out. For that, we need to plan more, which is easier nowwith the experience we’ve gathered during the last few years. Also, we need more help, because at the moment it is just us running the place, and that is really exhausting. But we have big plans and ideas, and we want to see this place growing…

Interview by Daniela Hombach

Regular events at Panke:
Bass auf die Muetze – Jam session, every Wednesday 8bit Bar – every first Thursday Scope Session – every second Thursday UKIYO-E Panke Cinema – every third Thursday CitizenKino – every fourth Thursday
Support your local ghetto – every last Friday of the month Wedding Soul – every third Saturday of the month
More information: http://www.pankeculture.com/

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