photos: Chris Phillips for Pornceptual
Pornceptual – “That’s a party? With that kinda name? In Berlin? – Oh Gosh!” – I know plenty of people who would already pass just knowing these banal facts; driven by an opinion, formed by nothing more but hearsay. Fetish, leather, sex, queers, techno, darkness; the associations are clear. I, on the other hand, seem to be constantly driven by an insatiable fascination for everything that’s outrageous. So, I went, more spontaneous, than elaborately planned. Well, I got everything mentioned above – yet still, my first Pornceptual was far from what I expected. One night in between naked skin, electronic beats and sexual liberation made me philosophize about what’s queer, what’s compliant and that weird thing called “normal”.
“And what piece of clothing are you gonna take off today?”, the skinny bouncer asked, a crooked smile on his face. His outfit consisted of an old Soviet uniform – without anything down below, of course, just tight leather hot pants. I looked around; the line behind me appeared like a collection of bizarre characters. I already felt very entertained by this; Berlin, just like you’d imagine it. Admittedly, at first I had to realize that I was not truly a newbie to this world. I am queer, I have been to many queer parties – but a party that is this kinky and sex oriented was still on the to-do-list. The facial expression of one of my friends reminded me of how deeply this Berlin party scene has already influenced me. While I was showing a broad smile, her face said something like: “What the fuck am I getting myself into?”
When I first arrived in Berlin a little over a year ago I knew I would encounter plenty of cultural shock. I had no idea, however, that dating in Berlin would be a 9 on the damn Richter scale. My current self wishes she could have warned her past self to brace herself. I was in for a shake up.
The first time I went out in Berlin, I came home feeling convinced that something was seriously wrong with me. No one tried to hit on me the whole night (or so I thought.) Could they smell the American on me? Was I not wearing enough black? Were my dance moves not robotic enough?
Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some positive sides to being a female at a Berlin nightclub. Chances are your butt won’t be groped, your drink won’t be spiked (because having a drink bought for you is highly unlikely), and you won’t have to listen to cheesy pickup lines such as, “would you like some fries with that shake?”— (yes, someone has actually muttered these words to me.) I can’t speak for other nightlife around the world, but going out as a female in the US means you’ll likely spend the majority of the night deflecting unwanted attention. I had normalized this behavior so much that when I didn’t have it, I started to wonder if something was wrong with me.
White hair, a long beard shaking to the beat. Attached to it: A man dancing to techno music, making bubbles, glowing with good energy. This is Komet Bernhard, a living legend in Berlin. If you’ve been out and about the last years in Berlin, you must have heard of him or seen him by now. Like a nightlife mascot (and I mean this in the best way possible) Bernhard is always there, where you wouldn’t expect him, dancing amidst youngsters, having the time of his life. Often, in the gloom of nighttime party banter, it’s not possible to get to know the person behind a glimpse of what you might grasp.
Which is why the makers of freshmilk decided to get to know the raving legend a bit better: In a 25 min documentary. Starting in his apartment of 13 years, the filmmakers follow Bernhard through one of his many wanderings through Berlin by night. And get to know him more with every step.
You can tell: The world is a big wonder for the 67 year old, who seems to have kept a youthful mind and big eyes: “I am dancing for my life – If I wouldn’t dance, I wouldn’t be here anymore” says Komet Bernhard. And in this documentary you might just find out why.
For the collaboration between Spanish sparkling wine brand Freixenet and Michael Michalsky, we were invited to visit the studio and working space of the famous Berlin-based designer.
Sitting around in comfortable couches (also designed by him) we were introduced to his newest collaboration with the Cava brand. Freixenet is a family-run business rooted near Barcelona. One of its best selling products, the Carta Nevada, that is now celebrating its 75th anniversary. For the occasion Michael Michalsky was commissioned to redesign the bottle of their anniversary edition: A slick and modern look for a classic brand. If you want to know more about this collaboration, read on after the jump.
photos: Berlin – Sounds of an Era
“The city had a jewel-like sparkle, especially at night, that didn’t exist in Paris”
Berlin in the 20′s: With the Jazz emerging and the dresses shortening, a new feeling of life entered the city, invigorating its nightlife. The time frame of the Weimar Republic might have set the tone for the capital’s later years, up until the now – including wild dancing, loud music and free spirit.
The city was in a blaze of glory – with the horror’s of the war and the cultural scene ever-changing – and it has some amazing contemporary witnesses and their music that are testaments for this unique period.
I wonder if there is any other club in the world that has people so invested into getting in or not like Berghain. The notorious door policy of the famous techno club, the long lines, the much feared getting-bounced-part. All of this kind of created a whole genre of internet entertainment all dedicated to (ironic or serious) tips on how to pass the strict door men, how to dress and how to behave inside. For us old Berliners this has taken almost comical proportions, but I can’t help it, I still enjoy all of these little projects and articles about it, even though I personally haven’t gone to the club in years.
So here is yet another one, but quite interesting, as it used new technologies that I haven’t seen yet in this form. It’s a virtual Berghain trainer that simulates the door situation (minus the long cues and the actual bouncers of the club) through an interactive video…
It’s hard to think of a film that has tapped so well into the Berlin party scene. Last year’s Victoria opened on a club night, but quickly took us elsewhere. Certain soundtracks have used adrenaline-fueled techno to help tell their film’s stories – Run Lola Run comes to mind. And certainly there have been films about partying specifically, like 24-Hour Party People or Berlin Calling. But Der Nachtmahr might be the best film ever to weave the pounding, textural sounds that define Berlin into an immersive, exciting story. And it’s amazing!
We open on a warning: “The strobe effects in this movie may cause seizures”. Also: “This movie should be played loud!” And it’s true! There’s a special feeling of being in a loud, intense club – it’s one of frenzy, euphoria and disorientation, punctuated by surreal melodies and anchored to powerful beats. Der Nachtmahr is full of these things, but it doesn’t use these sights and sounds gratuitously – it all makes sense, often underscoring the psychological state of the protagonist.
The movie is a thriller. Not quite a horror, not gory, not gross. It does keep your heart rate up, does have some gasps and edge-of-your-seat moments. The lead girl is super cool and really easy on the eyes, and her struggle is an intense, fun one to identify with. The overall meaning of the plot is labyrinthine and ambiguous – I certainly cannot say what really happened, even. In this sense, it’s sort of a Lynchian film, with some Requiem for a Dream vibes. It’s a super cool movie and everyone should check it out!
So you finally made it into the club! Now what?
After spending hours reading blog after blog about how to get into <insert your favorite Berlin nightclub>, you are finally ready to put on your dancing shoes and experience Berlin nightlife firsthand. Your outfit is on point (aka black). You managed to queue for over an hour without cracking a smile, much less breathe. You researched who was DJing and successfully memorized enough German to confidently tell the door guy how many people were in your party (Ich bin allein, danke). Congrats! You’re in. Now it’s time to have some fun.
Wait, not so fast. Just because you managed to fool the staff into thinking you’re a regular doesn’t mean that you’re ready to hit the dance floor quite yet. Before you pat yourself on the back, I encourage you to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the following Berlin nightlife etiquette tips.
Twingpigs, photo: Daniel Müller
For our latest guide we have once again teamed up with the lovely Laura Le Marchand from Down by Retro and Neukölln Shopping Nacht to give you the best of her favorite district: Neukölln. After we extensively covered all the shops and cafes in our previous collaborations we thought we’d give you something different this time: A nightlife guide including some of the hottest bars, parties and clubs of the popular district. All of these serve as perfect spots to drink and dance after an evening full of shopping and mingling at the Neukölln Shopping Night, which goes into its 6th edition this coming Saturday (May 7, 2016). Once again all the trendy spots in various neighborhoods of Neukölln will be open until 22h and offer some kind of special or mini event in their stores. More infos on the event and our new Neukölln Nightlife Guide curated by Laura after the jump.
photos: Fredrik Altinell
Of all the big cities in the world, Berlin appears to be somehow mainly one thing: an alternative. Not just another option, an alternative. An alternative to the high-pressure in New York, to the expensive prices in Paris, to the suboptimal living conditions in London. Berlin in itself offers so many alternatives. Every culture has a counter culture here. You have the choice to go along with the mainstream, or to take an alternative route. You have the big Berlinale Film Festival with very few women directors, writers and producers taking part, and than there is the Feminist Film Week. You have all the big theater stages with your typical theater fair, and than there are all these small independent ones showing highly progressive and experimental pieces. You have heaps of conventional night clubs and bars, and you have those where you can appear naked or have sex in the middle of the dance floor.
And of course you have the official Berlin Fashion Week with celebrity craze and commercial labels, with its counter part being the Berlin Alternative Fashion Week that brings young, eccentric and creative designers into the limelight. Exactly this BAFW stands as a perfect example for the parallel worlds inside Berlins fashion scene. I have personally been to both, and I can tell you the audiences they attract couldn’t be further apart from each other. If you don’t believe me, believe your eyes this coming Friday and Saturday when their runway shows dedicated to recycled and avant-garde fashion, respectively, take place.