Maison Mason, photo: Daniel Gebhardt
Berlin is one of the most versatile capitals of the world when it comes to all its locations. It was fun to have been thrown in this little town with no previous knowledge – I still remember setting foot on Kottbusser Tor for the first time, entirely by chance, way more appalled than inspired, completely unaware of Kreuzberg’s undeniable magic that I’d grow addicted to.
BAFW audience in front of Halle am Berghain, photo: Galya Feierman
The story goes a bit different with Berghain – the one club in Berlin that has virtually everyone under its spell – regardless of the fact if you’ve actually been there or not. The powerful myth surrounding it works better than any kind of brand strategy you could think of and I helped to spread it myself through mentioning Berghain in my various literary observations although I had not set my foot on this techno infused holy ground up until last weekend.
BAFW model in front of Halle am Berghain, photo: Galya Feierman
So when I finally approached the infamous gates, it was not with the innocent ignorance that used to be one of my most defining characteristics. I’ve been in Berlin long enough to feel comfortable in the crowd that would have most definitely intimidated me a few months back – mostly clad in black outfits carefully put together from pieces obtained preferably either at a flea market or a super hipster outlet and naturally exposing some skin covered densely with tattoos.
Backstage at Matteo Carlomusto/BAFW, photo: Galya Feierman
Since we actually went for a fashion show – the crowning event of this year’s Berlin Alternative Fashion Week that saw the Halle am Berghain turned into a catwalk – I knew it wouldn’t be one of the typical madness sessions this club’s famous for. But nevertheless, the event that sort of took away my Berghain virginity was a celebration of all the transcendent aspects of Berlin’s club culture.
Hungry for Ivana Pilja, photo: Berlin Alternative Fashion Week / Michael Wittig, Berlin 2017
It was really a metaphorical experience. The sexual freedom was ubiquitous, starting with the vast quantities of harnesses at the fashion market stands by local labels such as Studio Obectra and continuing with the brazen way androgynous models walked the catwalk in high heels and bizarre dresses by Tata Christiane. There was something special about the way the borderline deafening music filled the post-industrial hall with its majestic high ceilings and some remnants of the heating plant it used to be.
Finale of Tata Christiane, BAFW, photo: Daniel Gebhardt
Especially the show of Maison Mason felt like a tribute to Berghain’s unique essence. Accompanied by the projection of a sinister gothic church interior that brought to mind the religious way Berghain is being worshipped by its visitors, it commenced with a thrilling dance performance that impressed probably all audience members, including internationally famed singer Peaches that we briefly chatted with during the break.
Performance of Maison Mason, BAFW, photo: Daniel Gebhardt
The Maison Mason show went on, presenting intriguing contemporary designs on bold and brazen models that would all remain on stage till the end, dancing all close to each other to the spellbinding music, forming a hot crowd similar to the ones that usually occupy Berghain’s floors.
The fashion event turned into a wild foreplay before a party night when the audience started to toss the flowers all around the untamed drag performer Christeene and the faithful circle of fans grew closer and closer around her, as she began to gradually expose more and more of her already quite naked body. It was one of those things that would definitely leave me speechless had I not adapted to some of the social norms of our little Hauptstadt.
Christeene, BAFW, photo: Daniel Gebhardt
When we left, it was around 10 pm – a surreal experience to walk out of that mayhem straight into a blissful Berlin Spring night, crossing through the path that would soon be populated with Berlin’s friskiest personalities lining up to get mercilessly judged by the world’s most powerful bouncers.