photos: Finding Berlin
There is a good reason why people from all over the world travel to Berlin just for the nightlife. On pretty much every night of the week, you can find a plethora of clubs to satisfy your dancing fix. The only thing standing in between you and the wildest night of your life is the stone-faced bouncer perched ominously in front of the door (also known as “the gatekeeper of your happiness”.) No matter how much black you’re wearing, how many people are in your group, or how expressionless you manage to hold your face for 45 minutes while standing in line— a pesky fly could zoom by the bouncer’s face at the exact same second you come forward, and then… well… you might then hear them say something like this: “Vergiss es. Nicht heute.” (Forget it, not today)
On one hand I completely understand their discretion. The bouncers (at least I’d like to hope) want to make sure that all who enters their magical wonderland is there to have fun and revel in the splendor that surrounds them, not just take selfies, hit on chicks, or gawk at “freaks.” While this process of elimination does *usually* succeed at keeping these awful kinds of people away, they also end up turning away plenty of fun, happy, freaks who just want to shimmy (like, um, I don’t know…me?)
photo: Berlin Scrapbook / CC
What kind of relationship can you have to this city when your own family had to flee from Berlin?
A really difficult question to answer from my perspective. Even though we all have dealt extensively with the Holocaust and its consequences, having a real encounter with descendents of parents or grandparents who had to leave Germany can become an emotional tour de force.
The author Andrea Stolowitz is such a descendant. Her great-grandfather, Dr. Max Cohnreich, had to escape from Berlin in 1936 and started a new life in New York. For his children and grandchildren, he wrote a diary about his life in Berlin.
In 2015 Andrea visits Berlin to explore the life of her great-grandfather through his diary. An exciting and true story that has now premiered as a theatrical play on the stage of the English Theater Berlin. We talked to all the people participating in the creation of the piece. Each one has given us a piece of their personal Berlin Diary…
The more research I did on Francis Bacon, the more enthralled I became. Always on the lookout for troubled musicians whose drunken rhymes I could live by, I’d never been that passionate about any visual artist. But I have to admit – that guy was just like a rock star. Putting one of the most unnerving projections of suffering and alienation on an exhibition just two months after the end of the Second World War stood in major contradiction with any attempts of promoting optimism or tranquil nostalgia in the British society of that period. It also marked the beginning of his mature artwork, which featured references to T.S. Eliot’s poems, reenacting the circumstances of a former lover’s suicide, and general distortion of every human feature you could think of.
Clearly, I thought, with this kind of artistic sensibility, he must have been to Berlin.
And I was right. What’s interesting, though, and why I decided to write this article, is that Bacon’s Berlin experience was not limited to the times he might have been to our beloved Hauptstadt already as an acclaimed painter. First time his wild imagination was undeniably stimulated by this promiscuous city took place in 1927, back in the days of the Weimar Republic, just seven years after the Greater Berlin Act, which we should be forever thankful for, as it let Berlin incorporate some new territories, and among them a town called Neukölln. Hadn’t that happened, we’d be denied those abundances of Döners nowadays and some of the most beautiful tattoos ever done there.
photo: Harald Hauswald
We all know the stigma: True Berliners are grumpy people. People who directly speak their mind, could not care less about unnecessary chit-chat and definitely have a strong problem with, well, for simplicity reasons, let’s call it hipster culture. Despite stereotypes being generally untrue, it doesn’t really take you long to see that person right in front of you, does it? But is there a reason for all the grouch? Has anyone ever dared to ask when you saw one of these rare True Berliners? It feels like in Berlin there is this ongoing, unspoken, not clearly defined tension pressing under the surface of the city; an unverbalized conflict between these who came and those who were already here. The “Neuberliner“ vs. the “Urberliner“.
In search of an answer for all this bad mood, we, the “Neuberliner“, need to go back in time. As finding the cause for these temper issues is just not that simple. This text is one approach, but of course there could be one hundred other reasons for grumpy Berlin people being grumpy. But let’s try…
photo: Alejandro Arretureta
I never thought I’d move to Germany after finishing high school. But somehow (let’s pull down the merciful curtain of silence as to how exactly) I ended up doing just that. I turned up here, quite uninvited, and disheartened by every confused “wie bitte?” I kept hearing. I had my naive and uninformed vision of Berlin as a place where Nick Cave wrote a book and Wim Wenders made a movie, and that was what constituted my expat starter pack. As it turned out, that and the curiosity to recognize different Berlin lifestyles was all I needed.
At first I felt quite overwhelmed by the variety of people I’d met. Being Polish, and with the super comforting awareness that my mum’s just four hours away, I really felt the least adventurous and exotic among all the fantastic people coming from overseas. I loved this cultural diversity and soon didn’t feel surprised anymore that most of my new friends spoke English, but kein Deutsch.
The living situation in many countries is bad, dangerous and daily life becomes a struggle for survival. For many, fleeing to Germany and coming to Berlin is the only way, to get a chance of a new life in safety and peace. But arriving here isn’t always easy. The journey is often a very traumatic experience for most refugees, who not only leave behind their homes, but often family members, friends and everything that they are used to without knowing what to expect. Also fleeing a country is often extremely dangerous which is why projects like Jugend Rettet e.V. have been created. This project is sending volunteers to regions where many refugees are crossing the sea. Patrolling on boats and rescuing people from open waters is the kind of intense help that is needed.
Help for refugees has many different faces in diverse Berlin. In the past year we came across projects that amazed us with their positive attitude, their empowering ideas and practical ways of integrating and assisting refugees. We want to share our excitement about some of those projects with you, which is why we have collected a small number of them here.
There will be a lot of people who will not go to vote on Sunday. For those, who are wondering “For What?” right now, let me remind you that on the 18th of September the Berlin elections 2016 will take place. It is true that there is a myriad of legitimate-sounding arguments against bothering to care about it.
Granted, it is not a national election, which means there will be no drama or momentum for the outcome compared to the national elections. Besides that, the results will not have tremendous consequences on an international level, like e.g. the upcoming American elections for the presidency. The local character of such elections creates, thus, to quite a few people a sense of exhaustion and indifference, which leaves them wondering what the point of it all is.
photos: Manuel Moncayo
There are these moments, where all you want is simply to pause your life, take a deep breath, clear your head from all the annoying and time-consuming distractions that you let govern you and just exist without thinking that you are running late on your schedule. All that is needed is just these few minutes, where you get to really think about what you are doing and/or what you have become, not necessarily in an existential or an overanalysing way, but in the fashion that suits you best. How often do we even stop for a moment to observe our surroundings, appreciate what we have and realize that the majority of what we like to call “problems” are very insignificant considering we only live just a couple of decades? While pausing your life might not be possible, escaping from its worries just for a bit might prove just as rewarding.
photo: Jacob Schickler
Summer in Berlin is a blessing of another world. Everything seems weightless, effortless and without complications. Pleasure is spelled differently all of a sudden. All the things that are only possible in these few month, few weekends of heat and sun become part of a ritual. A jump into cold water of a green sea means purification. Breathing in the dust of a festival dance floor means contemplation. Looking into the sun until your eyes start to cry means devotion. Kissing a stranger at night, while sitting on a concrete sidewalk still warm from the sun means dissolution.
Time to save some light for the long months of darkness and cold. Every sensation, every taste of watermelon and mango, every lick on salty sweaty skin is experienced and immediately stored into a library of memories. Some of these memories are only meant for yourself. Others are meant to be shared with others to make them turn to life over and over again.
The photographer Jacob Schickler was kind enough to share his private visual memories of this never-ending summer in Berlin. Take a look, but promise me to cherish them without discontent. That summer will end one day is a fact that we can’t ignore. But we don’t have to taint our sunny days in grey even before Autumn will do his job. Enjoy his photos after the jump.
photo: Chris Phillips / Pornceptual
Out there in the world, Germany, and Berlin in particular, have a reputation of being sexually liberal places. Nudist beaches, sex parties, uncensored breasts on television, experimental sex practices, acceptance towards various sexual orientations and identities. You get the general idea. We Berliners are wild, excessive, and constantly horny – well, at least in the eyes of the rest of the world.
As a Berlin resident and German citizen I would never say that Germans are particularly naughty or more sex-crazy than other nations, nor did I have the impression that Berlin is sexually more open than other cities in Europe. Yes, maybe we have a few sex clubs more than other cities, but I doubt that there aren’t any places like that in the rest of the world. They might just be more behind closed doors and less publicly advertised. Here sex was always there: swingers clubs, dark rooms, fetish parties. But it was almost an alternative scene from my perspective, you could only see it if you knew where to look. It was the underground. But this is changing.
Now there is sex positivity, body positivity, feminist porn, and you could say a general awaking in the society from the bad dream that sex is something to be ashamed of and to keep in private. People are embracing sex more and with it, their own bodies and desires. Isn’t this something we should all strive for?