Picture the scene: Tel Aviv’s skyscrapers and Bauhaus villas meet and mingle with the old and cramped town of Jaffa. Your average residential area, a little rundown, and certainly off the tourist track. No walk-ins are likely to stumble across this gem of an outlet. On opening the unlabeled door of 3 Auerbach Street, you don’t quite know what to expect. A record store? An office? Or an apartment? We are greeted by a wagging tail while our eyes graze the dog basket, an old piano, a cozy couch, a kitchenette, plenty of shelves, several desks – and a generous selection of vinyl plus a full DJ set-up. Wooden ledges line the walls to show off the latest arrivals; below, a tiny table supplies crate diggers with sustaining tea and cake. Strictly speaking, the Auerbach Record Saloon is the shared office of Nimrod Katzir and Eran Hadar, two avowed music lovers and promoters. DJ and producer Nimrod (25) has studied music in London and partied the nights away in Berlin. Eran (36) has worshipped music since day one and supported the scene with more than a decade of promotion and distribution experience for international artists. He knows the local market inside out. Both had been thinking about an integrated house & techno record store for quite some time, referencing seminal outlets like Phonica (London) or Berlin’s first Rotation store. Two places rooted in their own scenes – and probably the closest approximation of our nostalgic record store ideals.

It has been quite some time since the last independent record store shut up shop in Tel Aviv – it was in 2006, to be precise. Since then, anyone looking for the latest or limited vinyl releases had to turn to the internet, with many music nerds and DJs looking to foreign outlets for a comprehensive selection. Nimrod and Eran, however, not only missed their local shopping option, but also wanted to establish a new meeting place for Tel Aviv’s thriving scene. Reactions were unanimously enthusiastic: Even before Auerbach’s official opening, people spread the word via social media and started to drop in while Eran and Nimrod were still building shelves or sorting their vinyl. From friends to friends of friends and a growing numbers of strangers, most patrons left the store clutching a generous bunch of records. After three months and counting, their concept has already attracted customers from abroad and also stepped up to its social hub function. Ever since the launch, a steady stream of DJs, music lovers, and musicians has frequented the store to swap stories, share expertise, and establish co-operations. On a different note, those eager to try their hand at DJing, but not quite ready to splurge on equipment, can take a trial spin on the decent in-house decks. Add chilled beer, a comfortable sofa, and leisurely opening hours for a cozy atmosphere that encourages browsing, lingering, and buying records. Always on display: around 500 to 600 current releases and new arrivals by select distributors including Hard Wax, Clone, or Diamond & Pearls, supplemented by local heroes like the brand new Black Crow Records. Anything not sold within a month or two is advertised online and listed on platforms like Discog, giving local patrons exclusive early access to the store’s vinyl gems. And this can be a real advantage considering the limited nature of many singles and EPs, with only one or two copies on sale at the shop. At the same time, the Saloon also serves as a second hand exchange for local DJs and their rare treasures.

So far, Auerbach has proved a resounding success thanks to Tel Aviv’s active electronic scene. Every weekend, clubs like The Block, Resek, and Deli host DJs and live acts from Europe or North America with bookings rivalling those of international hot spots. In return, Tel Aviv heroes like Deep’a & Biri get plenty of global recognition and publish their sounds on labels such as DJ Hell’s International DJ Gigolo or Derrick May’s seminal Transmat imprint. Local labels like Vega and Black Crow Records also fuel the movement and spur on a new vinyl-loving generation that produces its tracks on analog equipment.

Over the past five years, house and techno have gone from strength to strength in Israel, reaching mainstream popularity without pandering to mainstream tastes. Dipping into underground grooves, clubbers have become more adventurous and prepped a fertile ground for the Auerbach Record Saloon. The store, in turn, spreads the word on house and techno, a. o. via its monthly podcast, recorded live at the Saloon. Here, local DJs like Yogg, Mule Driver, Lt. Dan, or Nimrod himself spin a short-ish one-take mix. Using nothing but Auerbach stock, of course!

Header image and text by Jan Rödger