We had a chat with Berlin cultural icon and fashionista, Britt Kanja – proof that beauty does not fade with age.
Dress – Sepideh Ahadi, Jewellery – Mies Nobis, Hat – Philip Treacy
Œ: Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Britt Kanja: I was born and raised in Berlin. I’ve seen a lot of the world during my time as a dancer. The first part of my life I was kind of a nomad because every month I’ve been somewhere else in the world during my tours of dancing. I’ve always thought that every culture has a pearl, a treasure, and so I picked up treasures from all those cultures and that’s why I’m eclectic. I love to mix things from different styles, from different times.
Dress – Model’s Own, Jewellery – Mies Nobis, Hat
Œ: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what drives you.
Britt Kanja: I love to play with things, my soul is playful but very open for togetherness. I think I am here in this world not alone – not in this universe alone – so I think the we, we together is something that drives me. I always create things thinking of how we can get together to live in a beautiful society – in a wishful future society. And that needs people who know themselves that are honest to themselves and can trust themselves. I trust myself.
Dress – Sepideh Ahadi, Pants – Yohji Yamamoto, Jewellery – Mies Nobis
Œ: How did you become you?
Britt Kanja: I grew up with a lot of love from my parents, so I’ve never had to fight for anything that’s why I have no jealously. I love when others have success; it’s like my success. Even as a child, I already thought about being myself and what I will do as myself. So first when I was in the age of puberty, I became expressive. People on the street would start to laugh at me but I thought, I cannot change in that way… what do I do? And then all of a sudden, I realized it – a smile is the shortest way. And so when people wanted to say something funny about me, I smiled at them. Eighty percent of the people said the same thing, “Oh a fairy!” And I think I was a fairy because I took them away from their bad thoughts.
Dress – Tan Giudicelli, Jewellery – Mies Nobis, Hat – Donna Hartley
Œ: What is your secret to life? How do you stay young?
Britt Kanja: I think to stay young is to be aware of what is going on. Life is full of change and full of challenges. And if you fear challenges, you won’t go anywhere; you will have problems. I face my challenges, so I have no problems. I am completely free and myself and I can enjoy myself and others without any stupid thoughts in my mind. I am always following what is going on without fear. That’s why I think it is so important, that after all those ten thousands of years that we were in war, that we could change. And I am a changer.
Œ: What is your key to happiness?
Britt Kanja: Everything I do, I do with love. Even when I have to do things like cleaning up (actually I don’t like to do it), but if I’m doing it, I’m doing it with love. And that is a secret to always staying happy.
Dress – Sepideh Ahadi, Jewellery – Mies Nobis, Hat – Comme Des Garçons
Œ: Tell us about your legendary club, 90 Grad.
Britt Kanja: First of all, by creating parties, I was choosing the guests. It was a mixture of ages, of very rich and very poor, but everyone had something beautiful inside. It was gay, androgyne, hetero – everyone all together. It was a house music club and so I am a housewife… music wise. By choosing people with beautiful hearts, it went so well and it was so different. By the time of nineties, there were all of the royals in Berlin and also a lot of bankers and brokers. When the brokers from Merrill Lynch came and they were earning a stupidly huge amount of money, I had all these young artists at the club who were expressive and actually making the parties. So, I made the brokers pay for them and they were having a competition who will pay more. Everyone had a good time. Every month I threw a party, and it had a theme. All the decoration was changing, and the club had a new face for the scene. I also had fresh fruits and little things to eat on every table and flowers, so I made the people feel welcomed.
Dress – Sepideh Ahadi, Jewellery – Mies Nobis
Œ: What is your secret to dance?
Britt Kanja: The secret of getting into dance is feeling the music. Let the music move you. There’s one trick… first of all start very slowly catching the music. The slow gets you moving very fast afterwards without looking funny. And there is another secret. It’s the number 8. You can let the 8 move like a hologram into any direction through your body. And that makes you move and even the others around you dancing, start to move nicely too because they catch the movement. The whole body is doing something with the 8.
Œ: A parting piece of advice?
Britt Kanja: Everybody is born into this world with gifts and talents. You have to figure out what you like and what goes easily – what your talents are. But you have to start from point zero. You cannot just be at the top without doing anything. It takes time to develop your treasures and then you will find that something, something that you can even earn money with, that you like to do. You feel good with what you are doing. I can advise people to not go after the money, but go after the feeling good.