Private Monkey’s invite only, donation based events find success in both Düsseldorf & Neuss locations.
Private Monkey events are special occasions, created from the start with a focus on bringing creative, collaborative, and collective underground electronic music experiences to those who truly love and appreciate it. With events at The Attic in Düsseldorf & 102 Club in Neuss, each evening creates a unique experience with DJs and crowds carefully chosen to form the best possible experience. Formed by Thomas and Martina Ullrich in 2005, Private Monkey has hosted DJs including Nick Warren, Ingo Vogelmann, Henry Saiz, Quivver, 16 Bit Lolitas, Dave Seaman, DJ Placid, Miss Disk, and many more. We caught up with Thomas to learn more about these epic events.
How did the Private Monkey concept come about?
It was April 2005 when I planned a party to celebrate the birthday of my wife Martina. As we expected hundreds of people to join, we celebrated in a nightclub belonging to a friend. The DJs were friends playing for free, it was a cool event with lots of fun. After this, my friend – the owner of the club – tried to convince me to repeat this, as this was the best event the club had for months. I said I don’t want my friends to become my customers. I will only repeat this under certain circumstances: that we are still a ‘private’ community with a guestlist only admittance and guests only pay what they want to pay. They are not charged anything, with an open bar fully equipped, just lacking the Champagne. Still, Champagne is the only drink we charge when ordered. Although nobody apart from Martina and me believed this could work, we had not too much to lose. Thus, we gave it a try.
You have some unique policies, such as being Invite Only, asking for Donations, and offering a free bar. What inspired these? Has it been challenging to stick with these policies?
Being a student In the nineties I was approached by an insurance company. They wanted me to sell their insurances to my friends, using my good relationship to sell their useless product. After getting the idea I said to myself I will never misuse my friends trust to make money out of them. That’s why I was struggling to make ‘normal’ commercial parties. But if I invite them and they donate, I feel fine. As we share with the location owners, they always tried to push us to get at least a little more commercial with ticket fees or a flatrate consumation fee, but we refused to change the game, even when we had to change the location for this.
Do you feel that your Neuss and Dusseldorf locations offer something special you wouldn’t find elsewhere? Are there unique challenges to being located in these cities?
Those locations, the 102 in Neuss and the attic in Düsseldorf are the best electronic clubs around. Our sound is far from mainstream, the location should reflect this. The challenge is, that we do not have a lot of tourists in Düsseldorf or Neuss and as little as 600 000 inhabitants. The guests throughout the years more or less remain the same. It’s hard to keep the tension, and if you disappoint them two or three times, your party is done.
What is your selection process like when choosing which DJs to work with?
I try to find people who can tell a story in a set, without losing the tension and the direction. A lot of DJs can mix or play a few good tunes. It’s not the best tune in a set that concerns me most – it is the worst. One or two boring, uninspiring or even enerving tracks or mixes in a set can destroy the whole thing. It’s like if you’re having sex and your partner does something annoying or something unexpectedly rude. Or you feel like your partners behaviour is not real, faking the whole thing. It is done. Hard to go on at all. Try to find the person, who does not do any mistake for 2 or 3 hours, telling you a fascinating story with the right speed and good plots from time to time, keeping your attention until the emotions reach their climax… and you have the perfect DJ.
What advice do you have for people interested in attending a Private Monkey show?
Apply for the guestlist on our website. Tell us who you are and why you want to party with us, and why you are sure the party will be better with you around. Be what you are. Don’t pretend.
Bring all your positive energy and share it with us and you will have a terrific night.
What has been your favorite memory from a Private Monkey night?
There are so many memories I will never forget, hard to pick one. And a lot of the most exciting stories I would not like to reveal, to be frank. I think one of the best moments was when Isaiah Martin, a DJ and good friend from L.A. whom I met at the Burning Man came to the Private Monkey in the 102 in Neuss to play. He could hardly stand that night as he had a disc prolapse. After 30 minutes I gave him a chair as he refused to give up. After 45 minutes I thought we have to get an ambulance. I was begging him to give up and asked someone to take over. He refused. Shaking his head with a strange smile, somewhere between pain and joy. After 5 more minutes he kicked the chair away and started to move up and down in a very strange way, the only kind of dance move his body allowed him to do. And then, the magic happened. Just like Muhammad Ali in the legendary ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, the adrenaline in his body seemed to heal his back and he came back, pushing the audience and himself further and further into an ecstatic rave. He finally played 5 1/2 hours until 09.30 in the morning and I had to make him stop. I forced him to stop playing and pulled the plug. It was one of the most memorable nights.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
In times of millions of websites, tons of magazines and hundreds of TV stations, it is not the loudest, fastest or most extraordinary thing that is most rare and therefore most desirable. It is authenticity. Don’t try too hard to go for the top.
Be what you are, share your emotions and you will move the world.
The whole wide world or your small one. You should not care. Both will make you happy. And for the music: if it is authentic, it is good. Might not be your taste, but authentic, honest music is good, not matter what style. EDM is just so not authentic, and this is what bothers me most in nowadays music trends.
More Private Monkey Photos: