Club customs_1: the no-phone zone

For the first episode of Club customs, we look at why being less digitally connected during your night out might be one of the most social things you could do. And why embracing the here and now is all that matters really.

This article is part of a short series on the customs in club culture. In this short series, we explore the many spoken and unspoken rules of night culture, why they’re important and how to apply them so you too can be on your best behavior.

Although we all know that getting a phone shoved in your face while trying to mix intricate rhythms in front of a crowd has never been a pleasant experience, phones are still not always banned from the dancefloor.

However, in the venues that consciously have, we saw the rise of the no-phone policy as a way of reinstalling a much-craved intimacy not only for the DJs but the visitors alike. 

What are the pros (and cons) of this rave rule and what does this truly tell us about what we are looking for in clubs? Hint: it is not the grainy photos with the red-eyed one-night-friend that bought you a bottle of water but you kind of forgot the name of.

The first time I got into a club with a strict no-phone policy it was 2013 in Berlin. I remember not understanding why someone would not want other people to film and share their experiences with their circle. Free marketing, right? But it was not much later when I came to understand that that which clubs gained by this ban was something much bigger than any exposure they could ever receive - privacy for the night and its people to evolve. But why is this so important?

Unlike the predominantly white narrative we get fed regularly by looking at posters and bills of (international) clubs, the origin of rave culture in the 70s, 80s, and 90s is one that is much more diverse, colored and - quite frankly - marginalized and oppressed. For these people, mostly queer and black bodies, who couldn't find inclusivity, acceptance, and resemblance in their day to day life, night clubs served as a safer haven to explore identities and express oneself from the comfort of anonymity.

As time passed, the subculture took shape. New developments came and went but none were as impactful as the arrival of the world wide web in 1990. Lives, knowledge, and cultures that would else take decennia, sometimes centuries to develop or even surface, would now become easily accessible to anyone with a computer and a connection. Anonymity became an exception rather than a rule and this was felt in the club scene too. 

Not only did it become easier than ever to take pictures with higher quality photography and smartphones, the notion Picture or it didn't happen (according to this source, first used as early as 2003), created an urgency to share the immediate with the outside world. Platforms like Instagram, which are designed to share the instant, created an urge to keep the outside world in the loop.

With higher connectivity and poorer work-life balance threatening our younger generations with stress-related issues, the night is regaining its position as a time to reconnect with oneself and one’s direct environment.

Mindfulness apps, relaxing retreats, and no-phone dinners have already made their entry into everyday life. But it’s the door- and dancefloor policies that ensure you stay grounded in the here and now when the sun has already set.

Just like every home has its own set of house rules, WAS. thought of her own way to protect her visitor’s privacy and thereby create a context in which everyone can truly be themselves. Read along to find out about WAS.'s no-phone zone and why it's important to have people walking around ensuring these customs are put to practice.

WAS. no-phone zone:

  1. No flash, please. Every person entering WAS. is told not to use their flash while inside. Sudden flashes of light can disturb not only the DJs who are playing but the visitors too. 
  2. Keep it locked. WAS. visitors are kindly requested to keep their phones tucked or locked away. Avoid temptation and lock your phone away when you’re partying and keep both your hands available for a drink and a dance. But if you do decide to bring your phone and you have to use it, please make sure your brightness is on low. 
  3. Wasverzachters. These are the lovely people that walk around to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. They are volunteers trained to protect safer spaces and they play an important role in maintaining the energy that is welcoming to all peoples. We want everyone to feel free to be, dress and love as they wish, which is why our Wasverzachters will be there to kindly remind you to not use your flash or phone with brightness on full for example.

That's it on the club customs for now. We're back tomorrow for our first date of the new year with Mall Grab, Lewski and Mary. There still are some presale tickets available. See you on the dance floor!

07.02.2020 | Words by Manal Aziz | WAS. image by Tim Buiting