This month’s interviewee is hotel director and former DJ Dirk Dreyer. He’s been well-known in Germany’s house scene and was a DJ from 1995-2009, before becoming hotel director for Berlin’s Lux 11, Indigo Hotel, nHow Berlin and finally 25hours Hotel. His career has been stellar behind the decks as well as behind the desks, and we’re thrilled to have hime for our interview series!
Hey Dirk. First things first. From DJ to hotel director – you’ve made quite a career. How did it all begin?
When I was a kid I used to record tapes from the radio and play them on the school bus. Even then I would secretly observe how everyone reacted to the songs. At 18, I had my first residency in a Frankfurt club, but it wasn’t until the mid 90s that I really started digging house music. My job at BMG back then was a perfect fit. I was sending new tracks to DJs to get feedback, so I had an almost unlimited access to fresh music. At some point I had collected 15000 vinyls! When I started working for Sony, we created the dance department and signed hits like Run DMC’s “It’s like that”. The platin disc is still hanging on my wall today. In the bathroom.
You were born in Frankfurt – a city rooted deeply in electronic dance music, much like Berlin. What was the 90s Frankfurt scene like? Sex, drugs and hedonism?
I was too young to actually understand what was going on behind the scenes. The techno scene had very distinctive marks. Short hair, bomber jacket, combat boots. Not nazis, but very martial looking. Berlin already had a flourishing gay scene in the 90s, while Frankfurt was very hetero, very straight. The gay scene was small, but it was there. In the end, going partying with my gay friends was what really shifted me towards house music. I was the only hetero in that clique. I enjoyed everything from going out with them to their hysterical fits!
So, why come to Berlin?
Sony’s headquarters moved to Berlin. As a DJ in his late 20s I was absolutely thrilled. My own office at Sony Center and the city was waiting to be discovered. It was what everyone was dreaming of. I had only been to Berlin for the love parades until then and all of a sudden I would live here! I went to five parties a night. We turned days into nights and nights into days. Berlin’s culture and nightlife is still a major drive in my life. The experiences, the endless possibilities, the unexpected encounters and most of all – the people. It’s like the whole world is sending their best folks to Berlin.
Berlin has a firm grip on its night owls. Are you still going out?
Well, the last time I went to Berghain was 2 years ago. I wanted to see Danny Tenaglia and he was playing at 6 in the morning. I was really worried maybe I couldn’t stay up so long anymore. We arrived at 2 in the night and my worries were soon gone. We left at 2 in the afternoon. It was then I knew I still had it in me! Not without a hang over for several days, but still. These days I mostly party in the first half of the night. And I usually sit.
From DJ to hotel director – quite a jump. Why did you make the change?
I met my wife in 2005 and she already had a kid. We became a small family. It didn’t really feel good anymore to come home from parties and sit down at the breakfast table. So one night, I had a fateful dinner with a hotelier. I was hoping he’d connect me to one of his clients like Adidas, Red Bull or T-Mobile. It seemed to make sense to find a job at a music affine lifestyle brand. Two bottles of wine and a few shots later, he convinced me to become hotel director for Lux 11, Mitte’s first boutique hotel. He said he needed someone who knows the city and who’s known by the city. Next morning I woke up with a hangover and thought: Well, that didn’t go to plan. It was a jump into the deep end, but an amazing chance at the same time.
It worked out perfectly. Since your successful start at Hotel Lux 11 in 2009, you also ran hotels like Indigo and Berlin’s music hotel nHow. What do you think are the hotel trends for the future?
There are two major trends right now. First – huge standardized places like Motel One. They’re big, affordable and efficiently designed. The services and equipment are reduced to a minimum, guests only get what they really need. The other trend is boutique and design hotels with a distinctive atmosphere, just like 25 Hours. Style and form create individual experiences for the guests. I think in the future we will see a repositioning of older hotel brands. Today’s travellers have grown up in the world’s Motel Ones and many express themselves through their choice of hotel. These people will opt for stylish places that fit their needs for individuality. So, the new mainstream hotels will be more stylish by default and adjust to the trends we see now.
In your eyes – how has Berlin changed in the last 15 years?
The city has become a lot more organized. When we were throwing parties in the early 2000s, you’d call some phone number, arrange a location with some random guy and you would be lucky if things went halfway according to plan. It’s on a really professional level now. It lost some of its charming spontaneity, but that has more reasons. 15 years ago there were many free spaces for up for the taking. That was all part of the zeitgeist, you can’t keep the same state forever. I really like the new internationality. I feel that just the right people are coming to Berlin, from all over the world.
What’s you favourite place for food and drinks?
My favourite restaurant is the Pantry. Only few restaurants manage to create great all-round experiences, there it’s just right. Cozy armchairs, an harmonious concept, great design, music and a very friendly staff. My insider tip would be Korean restaurant Maru in Friedrichshain. The owner has dyed peroxide blonde hair and looks a little bit like a villain from a Hollywood movie. It’s an uncomplicated venue with great food. I often go there with my family.
If there was one thing in Berlin you could change, what would it be?
Berliners just love complaining. Not everything new is a threat. Cheer up people!