With lockdown being extended every few weeks and more intense measures implemented in seemingly fruitless attempts to minimize COVID infections, we’re all looking for a way to unwind. I’m sure everyone would enjoy a normal party right now; being able to listen to music, dance, and drink with friends without constant fear of the virus. We may all crave it, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair considering our current circumstances. And it definitely doesn’t mean a party full of famous people will go unnoticed in this climate.
Italian luxury fashion house, Bottega Veneta, is facing intense criticism after hosting a fashion show presenting their Salon 02 collection in the concrete halls of Berghain, followed by an afterparty at the Soho House in Mitte on Friday. Local celebrities like Oumi Janta, Honey Dijon, and Sven Marquart were in attendance, as well as more internationally known names such as rappers Skepta, Slowthai, and Burna Boy, American designer, Virgil Abloh, and Daniel Lee, creative director of Bottega Veneta. Photos and videos of the Soho House afterparty were shared on social media, showing no social distancing, masks, or compliance with the increasingly strict lockdown measures.
photos: Megan Auer.
Berlin is undoubtedly a hedonistic city. It’s known for its wild sex clubs, indulgent late-night food culture, excessive drinking, and the legalization of sex work. Despite this sinful reputation, sex workers in Berlin still face much of the same stigma they encounter elsewhere. Berlin Strippers Collective (BSC) is an organization of strippers living in Berlin, working to tell their stories through art and events, while always advocating and fighting for their ultimate goal: decriminalization. Read on…
Last year, Berlin became the first German state to make Women’s Day a public holiday. Having been originally proposed by German women’s rights activist and Marxist theorist Clara Zetkin at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, women have celebrated the holiday in March for over a century. In 2019, the Berlin Senate voted 87 to 60 in favor of the bill to make Women’s Day a city-wide holiday. Instead of simply enjoying the day off this year, check out some of these projects and events celebrating womxnhood and the feminine experience in Berlin.
I love the U1. I don’t live on the U1, and I’ve never lived on the U1, but I love the U1.
When I was 14, I moved to Berlin. I didn’t speak a word of German. I had never had a sip of alcohol. I didn’t know what techno was or even what weed smelled like, much less the intricate distinctions between der, die and das. Let’s just say I had a lot to learn. I learned a lot of it on the U1.
A few months into my first year here, I went to a concert at Bi Nuu, the bar located in Schlesisches Tor station. My friend Lisa and I took the U1 over, asked older kids to buy us tequila shots (they can’t have been older than 18) and stood in the front row, prepubescent heads bopping and bodies swaying as San Cisco serenaded us. I felt alive for the first time in a long time. I’d come from suburban New York where I needed parents to drive me wherever I wanted to go. And the year before moving to Berlin, I had lost one of mine to cancer, making my social options severely limited purely by the lack of a driver’s license holding adult in my immediate vicinity. My dad worked 9-5 in New York City and I sat at home and stared at Tumblr. I thought that was the epitome of existence.
A year later, Lisa and I sat on the platform above Bi Nuu waiting for the train home, no later than our midnight curfew and slightly tipsy on two-euro tequila. Lisa taught me how to say Schlesisches Tor (Schlaaay, zeeee, schess, TOR), and we took the U1 back towards Schöneberg, our haven of safe and familiar in West Berlin. I watched the city flash by and felt happy to be there, looking down on the world from above. Now this was the epitome of existence.
The U1 is the oldest section of the Berlin U-bahn. The first train ran on the line in 1902, 110 years before I rode it for the first time. It currently stretches from Warschauer Straße in the east to Uhlandstraße in the west, cutting a straight line across the BVG map. 8.8 kilometers, 13 stations, approximately 20 minutes end to end.
My favorite station is Schlesisches Tor. When I was 17, I got my first ever job at White Trash Fast Food, the legendary American restaurant that had recently moved to Am Flutgraben. I was hired as a “bar runner,” which basically meant I washed glasses and was everyone’s bitch. Every Friday night I took the U7 to Möckernbrucke and changed to the U1 where I would cruise along the stations to Schlesi. I’d walk down Schlesische Straße, past the dealers offering me dirty drugs, headphones blasting whatever garbage I thought was worth listening to at the time. At work I ran around and made mistakes and even kissed a boy in the walk-in refrigerator from time to time. When he told me his girlfriend wasn’t home one night and asked if I wanted to come back to his place I pretended not to hear and ran across the street to Club der Visionäre, which would offer us free entrance after work. I danced would until my feet hurt and the sun rose and the U1 whisked me back West.
But sometimes it didn’t. There were months at a time when the U1 was consumed by “Ersatzverkehr.” A replacement bus would drag me from Möckernbrücke over to Schlesi and I’d make my trek to work. After I finished high school, I went on a five-month backpacking trip around South East Asia. When I left, White Trash still stood resolute and the U1 ran every day and every night, like clockwork. When I returned, White Trash was gone and the U1 wasn’t running. I got a new job at another restaurant on Schlesische Straße and waited for my skytrain to run again. I spent countless nights watching Skalitzer Straße for approaching replacement busses after six hour shifts and eight-hour dance sessions at Chalet or Ipse or Arena.
When I moved to Amsterdam for university there was no U1. No way to view the city from above and travel across the best parts of it, like clockwork. Amsterdam’s public transportation left much to be desired when compared to the magic of the BVG.
Upon my return to Berlin last summer, I was dismayed to find my beloved U1 under construction once again. Just one more thing that I love about Berlin had been taken away, this time not necessarily by the pandemic, but I took it as a personal blow, nonetheless. But by the end of March the line will begin once again, day and night, like clockwork. I won’t be using it to every day to bring me back and forth to my grimy bar jobs anymore, but my love for the U1 will never falter. It showed me what it meant to be young in a city full of possibilities. And therefore, I will always love the U1.
photos: Arata Mori.
There are so many wonderful creatives making art in Berlin, and it’s always a joy to see two of our favorites collaborating. This week, two of them, artist Chiharu Shiota and the dance company Sasha Waltz and Guests, are collaborating in an online event that you definitely don’t want to miss. A stunning installation and a dance performance will be fused together at the iconic König Galerie and you can join in online.
Berliners love to recycle. We love a factory-converted-club or just getting that Pfandbon from all the bottles from last weekend. Well, this summer Berlin is recycling another event space rife with the memories of parties past. Built over 200 years ago and once called the “Sanssouci of the East,” the ZENNER House was one of the go-to spots for party animals of the 1800s. The Villa was home to celebrations such as the Stralauer Fischung and the Loveparade, one of the city’s wildest festivals, which was banned in 1873. The ZENNER is scheduled to open a 1,500 seat Biergarten on the banks of the Spree in Treptower Park this May under the management of Sebastian Heil and Tony Ettelt, previous operators of two already well-renowned Berlin venues: Salon Zur Wilde Renate and Else.
Most cities have a clear “downtown,” meaning if you’re lucky, you can boast about living in the center. These areas usually have lots of shops, bars, restaurants and life in general. But in Berlin things are a bit more complicated. What is the center of Berlin? There isn’t one area that comes to mind as the “downtown.” Many would say Mitte because it’s quite literally in the middle, but I’d argue the center is the one-kilometer radius around my apartment.
photo: Notes of Berlin
Berlin’s meme accounts are at it again and so are we. We’ve covered them before and but today we’re discussing our cities best bits of quarantine comic relief in this winter slump. The weather seems to be reflecting our general mood these days, so today we’re rounding up Berlin’s best snow memes. Baby, it’s cold outside so cozy up with a cold club mate or steaming, hot Glühwein, and prepare to be entertained.
Having lived in Schöneberg for the past eight years, I consider myself an expert on my Kiez. I always claim that it’s the best place to live in Berlin, not just because of the omnipresent Gasometer or the best döner ever (Ruyäm Gemüse Kebab, but that’s a story for another time) but also because we have awesome open-air markets. Everyone is always raging about Mauerpark or the flea market at Boxi on Sundays but let me tell you a little secret, Schöneberg has the best markets in all of Berlin. The Schöneberg markets might be a little less trendy than their East Berlin neighbors but they also boast some of the best prices in the city–sounds kinda similar to the housing market, right? And with Corona being an airborne disease, open-air markets are a better option for your weekly groceries than supermarkets. Here are my three favorites:
Shibari Study, photo: Viktor Herak.
Berlin is known for a lot of different things: the history and the wall, Berghain and techno, döner and currywurst, just to name a few. But two elements central to the culture in the capital are sex and art. These two intriguing aspects of life in Berlin perfectly unite in Shibari, a type of Japanese bondage that focuses on the aesthetics of the bound body. Although we’re in the middle of a pandemic and sex clubs and museums are closed, Shibari is a great way to satisfy your craving for something both kinky and creative. There are a number of organizations and instructors still offering workshops and courses about the art of Shibari during the pandemic.