Get To Know: Tempio Del Futuro Perduto, Italy’s first independent multidisciplinary cultural center

The trailblazing Milan venue is hosting their first Berlin festival in August.

By Richard Akingbehin

"A proper example of how the arts, culture and togetherness can be a resource for the city, for everybody."

Tempio Del Futuro Perduto may be best known in certain circles as a nightclub, but its reach, philosophy and impact is much, much more. Almost seven years into the venue’s history, it is being discussed in courtrooms and academic papers. Why? The founder Tommaso Dapri combined perfect timing - he started the venue right before Italy’s current, “fascist” government came into power - with his own socialist-leaning politics to create an inspiring hub for music, arts and social justice in Milan.

Winning a landmark court case against the government in 2022, Dapri was allowed to continue running Tempio from its sprawling former train station in the centre of Milan. Now, Tempio houses the largest Wall Of Kindness (a community clothes sharing project that has gathered over 500,000 items) in Italy, as well as extensive refugee support programs, club nights for people with disabilities, among many other activities intended for the benefit of the local area.

The Tempio Del Futuro Perduto (or Temple Of The Lost Future) crew are coming over to Berlin to host a three day festival at Alte Munze from August 30 until September 1st, as well as a radio takeover at Oona on July 18th. We spoke to Dapri about the venue’s beginning, its ethos and why they chose to make their Berlin festival just €5 entry.

Can you please start by telling the origin story of Tempio.

In Italy, politics have long been getting more repressive and far-right. Milan is one of the only cities that has been taking care of its communities and minorities with projects of inclusion and social justice. But, Milan has also really suffered from two decades of gentrification that killed almost all the social, cultural centres in the city. Another big issue is that the squats of the 70s and 80s were eradicated by the local government’s revolutionary approach in the early 2000s. The city needed a new way to approach politics, arts and togetherness. 

I was involved with some big Antifa parades, playing on the trucks, but I was seeing that all the movements were dying. We decided that we would no longer work with clubs, festivals or institutions that cannot be safe for minorities, communities and politics. Here, 90% of the venues are run by people who are not sensitive to these issues. The bouncers, the mafia... There is a lot of racism and sexism. So we took a step outside the clubbing and rave scene to start a new project, taking the positive things we found from places like Berlin, France, UK, Ukraine.

In the beginning, we squatted in this abandoned train factory to make Tempio. We are across the road from a monumental cemetery, in the centre of the city, so nobody is allowed to build new things here. No new business, no gentrification, everything gets abandoned in time.

We asked for the space legally at the same time as squatting it. We sent three years of emails and letters to the city council. They did not reply to us so legally it meant they had nothing against us. We rebuilt the place and offered it to the city, to everybody.

How did the legal issues progress from there? The city council took me to court, but after 5 years of court sessions, we won. It was the first case in Italy of people like us winning a case like this. I was very lucky because my final court session took place one month before the new fascist government came into power. In the following months, we saw how much the city and the country needed this space, so we got a lot of attention and success with the events, workshops and humanitarian activities.

Have any other institutions been able to follow in your footsteps

In other parts of the world, if a judge rules in your favour, it sets a precedent and makes a law. But this isn’t the case in Italy. Laws are made by politicians here, not court cases. So there is still no law that people can use to become officially recognised. People around Italy can use our case as an example to judges, academics are even writing about it, but there is no actual law. 

Can you tell me about some of those humanitarian activities you have going on?

For two years, we host 60 Ukrainian families every Saturday. We teach them Italian and host games for the kids. We also do this for families from other parts of the world - China, Taiwan, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan - but the Ukrainian families wanted separate sessions from other refugees, which is a very difficult topic for us. It’s funny because it’s during the weekend so the clubbers pass by. It’s a great example of community togetherness.

We also run club sessions for people with mental illness and different disabilities. Nobody ever did this in Milan before. We host club nights for 200 people, and try to make as little difference from our regular club nights as possible. The goal is the normalisation of disability. We just have to take care of some aspects like the strobe lights, compulsive mixing and so on. These sessions are really lovely as people get freed of any judgement or prejudice.

We have the biggest wall of kindness in Italy, and one of the biggest in Europe, in terms of how many tonnes of clothes we have there - at the moment it's around 500 tonnes. We started it during the pandemic and have kept it going. Every day we collect clothes and other items to share them with people who need them.

Tell me about your idea for doing a festival in Berlin.

Right now, we are living through a huge political crisis. I wake up every morning asking myself if I’m doing enough for the times. So, we want to bring our practices and policies outside of Italy, to the capital of clubbing, and see if the world thinks our ideas have value.

The tickets are just 5€, how can you manage that?

Tempio is not money focused. We are really investing all we have in projects that can make the world different. We think that clubbing and the techno community is having a big identity crisis. Tickets keep getting more expensive. From the beginning, we wanted to propose clubbing at the highest level but the lowest price. The mission of the electronic music community was to create a revolution and change the world. We can't change the world by excluding people who can't afford the ticket. 

We are using money earned by the events in Milan to fund the festival in Berlin. We are not entrepreneurs, we have no investors or sponsors. The first day we got this building, I had 350€. I used it for cleaning products, and that’s all we started with. Now, universities are studying us because we are a proper example of how the arts, culture and togetherness can be a resource for the city, for everybody.

Tickets for Tempio’s Berlin festival are available here.