Flashmob Protests Against Gentrification

  • A collective of Hamburg-based activists comes up with a hilarious way of protesting by holding spontaneous ‘Fette Mieten Partys’ (‘Fat Rent Parties’) at the viewings of apartments they consider too expensive. According to Der Spiegel, these new flashmob-style protests are part of a wave of action against gentrification in Germany’s major cities. The activists aim to fight rising rents that make it increasingly difficult for people to find affordable housing. Real estate agents have to be prepared for unwanted visitors.

    “A small advance guard is to conduct reconnaissance at the nearby apartment viewing. If the coast is clear, the others will follow them. Once the music is playing, everyone should put on their masks and wigs. And then the ‘Fette Mieten Party’ (…) can get started. (…) Around 30 protestors dance a conga line through the apartment to the Madness song ‘Our House’, which is blasting out of a boombox. They drink sparkling wine from plastic cups and hold up cardboard signs with anti-gentrification slogans.”

    In Berlin the same kind of protests are taking place. A group called the Hedonist International have been turning up to hold protests at flat viewings in the rapidly gentrifying district of Friedrichshain. The website of the group contains a funny video of a so-called ‘Wohnungsrally’ on August 21, where activists are dancing around naked at an apartment viewing, wearing masks and holding up signs. Der Spiegel explains that a Parisian collective named Jeudi Noir gave birth to this new, flashmob-style of activism, five years ago. It also makes clear that the worries of the anti-gentrification groups in Germany are justified, as rents in Berlin have risen by 14 percent in the last year, while Frankfurt and Hamburg have both seen yearly increases of around 7 percent. Main reason is the increasing flow of people into the big German cities. The activists in Hamburg admit that they mainly want publicity. “We need a housing policy that is geared to the interests of tenants, not to profit.” Will this trend move to other countries as well?