The "crime scene cleaner" in the music world
In the short film "A Rock ‘n‘ Roll Story" the hero is not some singer of a band, but the man who cleans up everything the day after the concert. Max Friedrich cleaned a club in Berlin for a long time – and witnessed and found many things in the process.
Rocked out and a bit dirty – clubs that host rock concerts are not necessarily known for their cleanliness. Many clubs even stand out for their dirty image. And once the lights go out, you no longer see the dirt anyway. Also the concert venue Festsaal Kreuzberg in Berlin has an air of the wild, dirty rock 'n' roll. Max Friedrich spent many years there with his company cleaning up after concerts. He uses a slightly different word to describe what he does. "I find the world "cleaning-up" derogatory or degrading. It sounds unprofessional. I would simply say: Cleaning. And in that case also: Event cleaning", explains the 32-year-old.
There is always a fine line between pretty and dirty - even in Berlin where everything is a bit laissez-faire. You can't wait too long before cleaning and also can't skimp on it either, otherwise the dirt becomes too stubborn. "As soon as it exceeds a limit and looks shabby, it becomes unattractive", he says.
In the meantime Frima, the name of Max Friedrich's company, also looks after larger events - such as events during Berlin Fashion Week or Formula E racing. Max Friedrich still has a vivid memory of his time as a "crime scene cleaner" in the music world. "You arrive in the morning and the entire concert hall is a mess - unexpected chaos because you can never estimate precisely what one expects", says the cleaning expert.
It is also surprising that the biggest mess is not after rock concerts. "In the case of an event series with trap music, a variety of hip hop, everywhere is littered with paper notes. At another event with electronic music there were 50 shattered glasses on the floor - the entire area was covered in broken glass. You then have a lot to do." In contrast, the rock generation has become more well-behaved and sedate. "The older people no longer throw glasses around", in Friedrich's experience.
Clearing the floor with dustpan and brush
"Sometimes you have to clear the floor first using the classic method with a dustpan and brush", says Friedrich. Because it picks up the most at events. Apart from shards of glass and burning cigarettes, also beer splashes and other sticky liquids – spread out across the floor and tramped on by hundreds of feet. In order to tackle such dirt, Max Friedrich has an entire arsenal of technical assistants: including a scrubber drier, a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, a single-disc machine, a high-speed single-disc machine, in order to polish floor coverings, and a sweeper.
In the film "A Rock ‘n‘ Roll Story" we see Friedrich cleaning the dance floor. He is in a good mood as he passes over the straws and cigarette butts with the scrubber drier with disc brushes. "The film team has some artistic licence here. Normally the floor is brushed thoroughly first – or a roller machine with pre-sweep device is used", he says. What is true, however, is that Friedrich loves his work. "My job is a calling - every time when an area is clean it gives someone a good feeling. You are charged with positive energy on the job", adds the young businessman.
"Cleaning is extremely intensive"
One area in the club where one cannot wait until the following morning to clean is the toilets. The meditative mood that sometimes accompanies clearing and tidying up the next day doesn't amount to a whole lot, explains Max Friedrich: "Cleaning the toilets is always something special. There are peak times at concerts, e.g. when there is a break, when everyone runs off to the toilets." When the band is playing, there is nobody there."
Even the most enjoyable party ends at the latest when the lights are switched on again indicating that it is time to clean up. Glaring lights reveal what event cleaners can expect the next morning. Max Friedrich finds himself philosophising: "The intensive light reflects the character of the cleaning because cleaning is extremely intensive. It is important that you see everything and restore everything to its initial state." He explains how important this is with an anecdote: One time when the lights went out in a star-rated restaurant, Friedrich equipped his staff with headlamps on the spot.
Some days the bright lights also help show what the public has left behind besides the dirt - lost property, from mobile phones to shirts. Max Friedrich has a lasting memory of one lost item. "In the Festsaal Kreuzberg venue we also cleaned the beer garden. When I was cleaning up I found a pair of Gucci sunglasses. It turned out that they belonged to the Austrian rapper Yung Hurn, who likes to wear designer accessories. The sunglasses were returned to the rightful owner - and he was extremely thankful."