One year in Berlin, an anniversary of sorts. This is my story of this utterly relenting city. A tale comprised of four distinct seasons, three apartments, numerous jobs, countless fleeting friendships and one difficult language. It is about a city of immense density caught between the heavy weight of its past and the inexplicable light and freedom that shines from the darkest of places.
This city that I now call home is something extraordinary, an anomaly. It has progressed into its next chapter, following the contours of history, flourishing into a liberal and cultural hub. It has changed from all recognition and proliferated into a city of tolerance and acceptance, a place where people are free from judgement, and even freer to express themselves. Yet I have felt Berlin’s depth.
This is my time in Berlin.
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 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.
photo: Eylül Aslan
Men are simple beings. All of them – even the smart ones. We might be a highly evolved kind of hairless monkey but there is one thing we love: organizing things in categories. Giving us a rough idea how to classify our fellow humans seems to be all the rage. Heterosexual men get special categories they only ever apply to women: The Madonna and the whore.
Humor is unique and universal at the same time. One of the perks of laughing besides being, well good, is its ability to unite people and nations. You could probably say that most cultures have some similar funny bones. At least we all can always agree to laugh about something, like physical comedy. Of course there are also things that maybe some cultures would laugh about more than others – because they know where the jokes emerge from. This is where humor get’s lost in translation.
photo: Stas / CC
Look up into the sky, draw a circle of trust – the city is coming out of the dust. You can feel the air getting warm around you, building up contentment inside you. Let it culminate, come out of you – burst into laughter, come through.
Berlin is back, was never gone, we know that winter’s beautiful on its own. But no one can deny this side, the city’s warmer, happier smile. With all the gloom and seriousness, how bright can your smile really get? Pretty bright and very wide – just try to laugh about, smile! From ear to ear your teeth should show, how life is getting you to glow!
So laugh away the darker things, smile right into your little wings and fly away into the blue – the city is smiling and so should you.
photo: Anže Kokalj
We all need a little saving sometimes. Someone to grab us by our shoulders, reassuring it’s gonna be okay. In a city like Berlin, accidents happen. With so many people living next to and with each other, bruises are inevitable. In cars, on bicycles or walking on the street, with hearts falling on the floor, shattering to pieces: Every day, someone is out there, needing a pick-me-up.
Luckily, there is almost always help just around the corner to mend that heart and come to the rescue. Just like the other day, when an ADAC (automobile club) chopper landed in the middle of the street of Kottbusser Damm. Who knows, who needed saving that day – it’s good someone was there.
Photographer Anže Kokalj captured this unusual moment of a helicopter landing in the middle of Kreuzberg. You can find more pictures on his Instagram.
photo: Eylül Aslan
Berlin might be a disaster when it comes to airports but at least we have an overabundance of low-cost-airlines to choose from. And while hundreds of people come to Berlin to get their rocks off every weekend, I prefer to travel and, as some of you might remember my column on the terrible truth about the German man, I have reason enough.
photo: Montecruz Foto / CC
It’s on the streets, it’s in corners. It’s on the U-Bahn seats, it’s an armor. Don’t be surprised, we all know that behind its disguise, Berlin is a beauty. Hidden in trash, a secret stash of pulsating life.
It’s a juice box, flat, lying on the concrete, with the straw pointing north. It’s in the searching eye of a person, collecting empty bottles from the trash bin. Lifting up the green flask, reflecting against the sun, you can still see the remains of loud music and the weekend fun – in the drops leftover.
It’s a bag of plastic, flying in the air, like an orange bird getting trapped in a tree.
It’s the mess between you and me.
Berlin is a beauty, it’s messy and honest, at times tired from vomit, dripping from stairwells.
And still it has taken care of you, you never fell. At times it crumples up, and then evens out – a constant recycling of breathing in and breathing out.
But the circle of life in the city, it shows that things may come and things may go, what matters is: we arose.
photo: Eylül Aslan
I don’t believe in airing my dirty laundry in public. I know how unconvincing that sounds coming from someone who writes a dating column that heavily features her private life, (shut up! You know you love it) but after having the issue resurface several times over several months, I do have to give the issue of social media hygiene a personal treatment.
Sometimes I wish Facebook had a “your ex is not going to this event” feature. Or better yet, there should be a feature that lets you confirm events and then the designated persona non grata would be unable to confirm, or even see, the event.
artwork: Eugenia Loli / CC*
“Men are all the same, just pick the richest one” seems like a solid framework for the jaded urbanite interested in dating men. I’m not classist, I went out with starving artists left and right, but sometimes a girl needs more than hard dick/clit and Späti beer.
I have toyed with the idea of dating someone with a thick bank account and a thin thread of life after an ex-partner suggested that “the lifestyle would suit” me. And of course I’d love to be the “personal assistant” and bed warmer for Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond, but my chances of ending up with some Berlin (read: far less wealthy) version of J. Howard Marshall are much better.