Sandra Weiß only wants one thing this evening: to see Sven Väth. “I’m his biggest fan,” says the 42-year-old. A message that she is only too happy to share with the world. She wears a shirt with the inscription “Väthisch” and has the DJ’s last name tattooed on her wrist. What does she like about him? “Simply everything,” she says, “Sven Väth – that’s an attitude to life!” Together with her husband Sebastian Burkat, Sandra Weiß is on the way to Time Warp, a techno festival in Mannheim that is celebrating its 30th birthday this year . 75 artists play here, including Väth, who hasn’t been there since the founding, but has been playing there since 1995. Many people have associated him with the festival since his legendary performance in 2006, with which he even made it onto the Tagesschau. That’s when he grabbed the microphone and shouted into the crowd: “It’s all about Good Mood, Alder!” For Weiß, “Gude Mood” is also synonymous with hammering beats. She has been dancing to electronic music since she was a teenager. She loves the rush, the drifting, the moment when she forgets everything around her. “For me, techno means just switching off your head,” she says, dancing in place with her feet stomping.

She and her husband visit techno festivals as often as they can, such as Tomorrowland in Belgium, Awakenings in the Netherlands and Time Warp in Germany. “I could also go to clubs,” she says, “but there are usually only very young ravers who listen to much harder techno than we do.” She calls it music to blast away.

You can experience what Weiß means a few hours later on the Time Warp festival grounds. On Floor 2, the hall where Sven Väth plays, the DJ is standing at his booth, wearing glasses and razor-short hair. Behind him are two large suitcases. Väth, who turns 60 this year, is one of the last in his scene to still play vinyl. Many of his colleagues have long since just pushed sticks into their systems. Although it is dark in the hall, faces keep flashing out of the crowd through the flickering headlights. The ravers who twitch to the beat here are millennials between the ages of 30 and 40 who grew up with Väth’s music. It’s rare to see a Gen Z raver here. In fact, many of the young electro fans weren’t even born yet when the techno movement began in the late 80s. At that time, the style spilled over from the black music scenes of Detroit and Chicago to Europe. It was the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and suddenly the pounding bass of new music echoed through disused buildings in Berlin. Techno not only became the soundtrack of reunification, but also shaped the music of an entire generation. Since techno became commercialized in the following years and every small town held raves, the makers of Time Warp decided to create a festival in 1994 that returned to the beginnings and the DJs of that time. Underground instead of mainstream – that was the spirit. Back then, artists like Laurent Garnier, Sven Väth, Carl Cox and Richie Hawtin played, and to this day they are considered pioneers of electronic music.

A concept that Time Warp is still holding on to on its 30th birthday and has now also taken it to Sao Paulo, Madrid and New York. Many DJs from the early days are playing in Mannheim this weekend. Never before has there been a larger line-up. “The focus on techno has remained, but there is a good balance between new talent and established names,” explains Robin Ebinger, one of the organizers, who is expecting around 30,000 ravers from 80 nations.

Electronic legends, as well as popular megastars such as Solomun, Marcel Dettmann, Ricardo Villalobos and the Grammy-winning DJ Honey Dijon play on seven floors spread across the Maimarkthalle grounds. The American, who many know as the resident DJ at Berlin’s Berghain, has already worked with pop stars such as Madonna and Beyoncé. Dijon, who as a black trans woman is closely linked to the queer scene, produced two tracks for Queen B’s “Renaissance” album, for which she received the most important music award.

On Floor 3, where she’s playing that evening in skinny jeans and sparkling white Nike sneakers, it’s mostly young ravers crowding around her DJ booth. Although you can hardly see their faces in the dark hall, their dancing style reveals their age. At least that’s how Gia, a 23-year-old raver who came from Palermo with her friends, explains it. Two of them wear black fetish harnesses with short skirts, another dances with a half-naked bottom, wearing only pantyhose. “None of us do the masher or the cruiser,” she says. By this she means the step sequences that she often notices among older people in the scene. “It looks like the techno stomping of the nineties.”

And the style of the Italian women? “We are the steppers,” she says, moving her arms and legs in a fast rhythm, almost as if she were standing on the exercise bike at home. A steward who works at Time Warp every year says it’s caused by MDMA, a party drug that increases the urge to move. Sandra Weiß likes the fact that two generations are hitting the dance floors today. It shows how important techno is for many people, she says. It’s just one of the boys’ peculiarities that often gets on her nerves. “They’re constantly pulling out their cell phones and filming or taking pictures of themselves dancing.” The flashlight is annoying and sometimes you are photographed unintentionally. It’s all about the perfect Tiktok content, the hashtag

There is only one exception for them: a photo with Sven Väth. She hopes to get one with him again at some point, perhaps at the next Time Warp. Then the DJ will celebrate his 60th birthday. “I feel like I have to be there,” says Weiss. “Maybe not necessarily for him – but for me!”