photo: Christmas Garden Berlin
Although the weather doesn’t really suggest it, the holiday season is indeed upon us and while some are anxiously waiting to open another window in their advent calendar, others regard all the festivities merely as an opportunity to steal a ketchup container from Christmas hot dogs stands on Alexanderplatz, which is an exceptionally Berlin-like crime I have actually witnessed.
And that serves as a sufficient example to say that the idea of a perfect Christmas will definitely differ from person to person. Many of you will travel to see family, others will celebrate with friends, and there’s more than a few that are going to be happy to finally not be bothered with any company at all. So for those of you who’re staying in Berlin this month and consider leaving the house at some point, we’ve come up with a few suggestions as varied as it gets, and some of them not even Christmas related.
photo: Michael Mayer / CC
Du bist verrückt mein Kind, du musst nach Berlin …
At the time, we’d never even heard of Franz von Suppé. Still, we went. From our protected northern hometown to a coal-heated loft a few blocks north of Landwehrkanal. We arrived just in time for Berlin’s darkest winter on record. As the ice came biting at our feet and the carbon monoxide took to our lungs, we turned to speakers as big as houses and dance floors where three nights became one. Our hearts exploded, only to close again like fists every time we returned to collect our winter coats.
In the vacuum that followed every weekend, to cope with the whispering ghosts and the buzzing ears, we found comfort in other sounds. Our own sounds. As sparkling as our make-up, as forgiving as our gin; only asking for more of both.
It should come as no surprise that this is happening in Berlin. Imagine you are lucky enough to walk out of your place in the morning and bump into this delightful event. Musicians on the staircase of the building you live in and seems soulless during these cold winter days, singing and playing music just like that. StairsBerlin is a project created by Guilherme Valverde that takes a multi-faceted approach to this little talked about side of the city creating urban art like posters, photos as well as music performances and making, thus, something really special out of something that we otherwise would not even pay attention to.
Since I literally do get tipsy after my second beer which does not hold up at all with being Polish, I’m usually viewed as a kind of a curiosity at any given party. And that’s not everything: my music taste is anchored so strongly in the past that my friends just tend to look at me in disbelief when I have to admit I’ve never heard anything from their playlist.
But there’s this one song that one of them has discovered a while ago and it somehow connects us, regardless of all the usual taste differences. It’s one of those that aren’t really about the tune, or how good the singer is.
“Heimweh nach dem Kurfurstendamm” by Hildegard Knef is just all about Berlin and how no city could ever be compared to it although people over there may be trying their best. For me and my friend especially, it obviously gained even more meaning after he decided to move out for his studies.
„The ground was shaking, the ears were booming when I lost my young heart to a fat sound“ – Berlin, also called ‘Dickes B’ by the local group Seeed, has been an inspiration for all kinds of music and subcultures for many years. From one corner in Spandau to the other end in Marzahn, one would think that Berlin has more than enough filthy prefabricated-slab buildings to produce some beats that would put those of Hamburg’s bigwig kids and Frankfurt’s spoiled ones in their shadows. Well indeed – although our at the same time hated and beloved moloch provides a nutrient for authentic gangster rap, Berlin became one of the – no, probably THE – most relevant hub of the German hip hop scene in recent times.
If you want to experience and get to know more about how the separate neighbourhoods sound to the new rap generations and what old (rap) friends made out of it, then take about 16 minutes of your time and go to the bars of these acts.
You know that the appreciation for Berlin is something that is very close to our hearts. So you can imagine when we see videos like the following, this is really like a big warm hug for us. There have been many songs about how awesome Berlin is, some better, some worse. But we always were happy to see that other people shared our enthusiasm in a capacity that they dedicated a whole creation to the city – like us with the blog.
This new song titled “Das ist Berlin” (this is Berlin) really brings this to a whole new level (and me almost to tears). “When you make it beautiful even though it’s ugly – this is Berlin, Berlin, Berlin. And when Stephan suddenly becomes Stephanie, Berlin, Berlin, Berlin. When you are not from Germany, but you are still a true Berliner, this is Berlin, Berlin, Berlin.” This is how the chorus goes, translated to English. But please see for yourself and be reminded how awesome this summer was!
Heimathafen Neukölln, photo: Verena Eidel / CC
A classical concert in a non-classical setting is just about the right kind of Wow-effect for your brain. The old and the new merge perfectly, creating something that is new. Gone are the times where classical music seemed old, a bit stiff and hard to understand for anyone who is used to the very different scales of, let’s say, mainstream pop. Nowadays, classical music seems to make an Ancora or – dare I say this: was never gone.
The thing that is changing about it though is the setting in which the music vibrates. What other place than progressive Berlin would provide the right kind of locations that frame these melodies from another century in a way that only this century could. See five of the most unusual places to enjoy a classical music concert right after the jump.
The story of Berghain being recognized as a venue that produces “work of cultural significance” and is, therefore, subject to lower taxation made it even to the Guardian a couple of weeks ago. It is impressive to say the very least; as it is the following song by Rachel Glassberg & The Disasters, which narrates an imaginary story about the famous photographer Sven Marquardt, who is also known as the notorious Berghain bouncer. Pay attention to the lyrics; they are full of grit and humor.
“Before you think, music makes you feel” states Pedro Carneiro Silva at the beginning of his beautiful video shot on a Berliner roof. Watching the sun go down along with the view over the city makes it impossible to argue against that, as one is instantly overwhelmed by the Brazilian’s heart-warming piano melody. The concrete of the roof in combination with the bricks, the clear sky, his music and voice in the background showcase a different aspect of the German capital: calm, creative, cordial; away from its well-known untameable wildness.
The Lollapalooza festival had its second Berlin edition this past weekend and it was quite spectacular. I hadn’t been to the one last year in Tempelhof, but this year there were a few acts that I didn’t want to miss so I took Absolut up on their invitation to join them, and I’m so glad I did.
This was probably the biggest festival I have ever been to (I admit I haven’t been to that many) and being surrounded by that many celebrating people is quite the thrill. Especially at the two main stages the crowd was so massive and to see them move and cheer with the performances is really powerful.
Between concerts I checked in with Absolut as often as I could. They had a big set-up that was part of the Fun Fair of Lollapalooza, which was a big playground to hang out in and goof around between installations and vintage circus tents.