If there is one thing we have all learned in the last year it is that many things we were used to had to be completely rethought and reinvented. This rings especially true for the culture and arts scene that was completely shut down for so long with very few alternatives.
The operas and theatres had some of the most invasive restrictions during the few months they were allowed to open reducing audience capacities and cutting the seasons short. So they were very few opportunities to see anything on stage, only a few people got lucky with tickets and that’s still a reality today.
Photography by Rita Couto ©, Berlin 2021
Finally, Berlin is getting its open-air dance floors back this weekend. Yet there was one particular dance movement that brought people together with electronic music even during the lockdown. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s really time you find out about Dose of Pleasure, because once you tried it you will be addicted to it. I promise.
Basically, Dose of Pleasure is a collective dance meditation that starts usually quite softly, gets energetic with time, and lets you groove to electronic music in a completely different way than you would do in a “normal” night out in a club. The method behind the movement of Dose of Pleasure was created in March 2020, when the first lockdown hit Berlin and the world. Based on his experience with the Berlin night live, the dance teacher Alvin Collantes created a way to move with yourself and get deep into the groove.
Last summer, the movement had regular raves happening in different locations all over town. This Saturday 19th there will be the first public dance demonstration again happening at Tempelhofer Feld. You can find more about the event and the schedule over here.
It’s not a secret that Berlin fashion is one of a kind. Our streets are not accustomed to chic ladies in simple black dresses with a few expensive accessories to highlight their style and men who carry around their fedoras as they do in Paris, we rather like our style more gender non-conforming, unconventional, eco-friendly, and from time to time, serving a cause. Black isn’t necessarily a funeral color and we put on those pajamas at work on purpose. Berliners also don’t like to walk around like billboards. We don’t like showing off big brands and logos plastered on our clothes and we like to support local businesses that reflect us. This is why we chose these fresh Berlin fashion brands and shops to get you ready for this summer.
If we can’t dance in Berlin clubs, at least we can watch a documentary about clubbing there, right? With the corona regulations operating a club has become really difficult and this is threatening the one thing that has put Berlin on the map worldwide in the last couple of decades. While everything is back open again after the endless lockdown, clubs are still the one type of place that is still not allowed to open. It’s not that that is not understandable – but it doesn’t make it any better or fair for the people behind it.
The new documentary Clubkultur by filmmakers Leonie Gerner and Andrea Schumacher for Hauptstadt.tv shines a light on the importance of the Berlin club scene with various interviews with club owners, nightlife artists, DJs, and musicians, but also politicians and the Berlin Clubcommission. We also get to see a lot of footage from some wild Berlin nights that make us super nostalgic and that feel like they are from a distant time decades in the past.
photos: Gili Shani.
After Berlin clubs closed their doors to their worshippers during the ongoing global pandemic, many kink lovers who found their refuge in these sanctuaries had to get more creative to maintain their inner desires. The legendary KitKat pool had to be replaced by our bathtubs and our music in compliance with the Hausordnung. The nascent lockdown rules were getting tougher and the end of the tunnel was getting more blurry along the way.
During this difficult time, Gili Shani, the only person who was allowed to take photos at KitKat Club, photographed 250 people in their houses, who were willing to show their kink for his book Voyeur. Berlin. Kinky. He drove all around Berlin to capture these intimate moments inspired by the pre-pandemic kink scene. With a sexually suggestive front cover of a lower front tattoo that says “fuck”, the book is already promising. Through Shani’s lens, these domestic shots reflect nothing different from a moment in KitKat; a man in a harness kneeling before the camera and a domina ready to spank someone in another photo. After all, you can get the Berliner out of the club but you can not get the kink out of Berliners.
The new production of Puccini’s opera “La Fanciulla del West” at Staatsoper Berlin is giving us some real Wild Wild West vibes. What a piece to start the season with after this endless lockdown! The premiere on Sunday, June 13th, is actually already sold out, but because the demand was expected to be high after such a long time with closed stages, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden together with their long-term sponsor BMW came up with the idea of creating a drive-in cinema experience where viewers can enjoy a live stream of the premiere from the comfort of their car. As a special treat, we are giving away 5 tickets for the spectacle!
When you read the synopsis of “La Fanciulla del West” you probably ask yourself, wait, how is this supposed to be an Italian opera from the one and only Puccini? It goes a little something like that: “California, at the heyday of the Gold Rush: the place of people’s dreams turns out to be an inexorable wasteland, governed by the law of the jungle. Minnie’s bar is the only place where people live in peaceful coexistence. It is revered by gold seekers and fiercely presided over by the gruff Sheriff Rance. But when Minnie falls in love with a stranger who turns out to be the notorious bandit Johnson, the fragile community is turned upside down.”
photo: Birgit & Bier.
Despite many different efforts and many alternative concepts, it’s the Berlin club scene that is probably suffering the most from Berlin’s cultural landscape during the pandemic as the majority of the places have been locked down now for over a year. While their future is in the balance and a re-opening for indoor partying is not really inside, at least a political movement has managed that they are recognized as places of culture which makes a big difference for them when it comes to taxes and funding.
But the Berlin nightlife scene has always been inventive, so pretty much like last year after the first lockdown where the few clubs that have the luxury of an outdoor area came up with alternative usage concepts such as beer gardens to be able to partially re-open over the summer, the same thing is happening right now with the first clubs already open again for guests.
Whether you just moved here yesterday or have been settled for several years, we are all well familiar with the joys of flat hunting in Berlin. I’m sure we’ve all heard the horror stories, scamming stories, funny stories, and even the nudist stories.
And now this collective flat search experience has been transformed into a hilariously cathartic online game known as Berlin Flat Quest.
Created by Bastien, the man who runs the Settle in Berlin blog, Berlin Flat Quest commemorates this rite of passage by combining people’s flat search stories gathered from the Facebook group berlin EXPATS.
In Berlin leftist graffiti dominates the streets. Unless you venture far enough into Pankow, which I cannot recommend, you’ll likely only find posters, street art, stickers, and graffiti that match Berlin’s politics: left-wing, queer, and pro-reproductive rights. Less than a two-hour drive away in Poland, it’s an entirely different story. There’s a Polish joke that goes: “if you’re standing on the street and there’s an anti-abortion poster behind your back and you don’t see one in front of you, it means you’ve reached the border.”
Since 1993, abortion has been illegal in Poland except in cases of fetal abnormalities, a serious risk to the life or health of the pregnant person, or rape or incest. In October 2020, the country’s Constitutional Tribunal struck the first of those–fetal abnormalities–from the list of permitted cases. And although this law only came into effect in January 2021, hospitals began refusing people last fall. Contraception is available in Poland but can be refused on the grounds of a “consciousness clause,” meaning medical staff can deny access based on their beliefs.
Yayoi Kusama at Gropius Bau 2021, photo: Luca Girardini.
Once again Berlin’s museums and cultural venues have had to close their doors due to lockdown restrictions. However, there are still a few hidden gems around for us to continue exploring the artistic side of the city and get inspired in a safe way.
Gallery Weekend took place a couple of weeks ago and many of the participating galleries are still open to the public as long as you contact them in advance and have a negative COVID test. You can check out Gallery Weekend’s website for a full list of participating galleries and artists.
Additionally, we can look forward to some larger exhibitions that have unfortunately had to close for now, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for when tickets will be available for purchase again.
Here is a list of some fantastic exhibitions – some that you can currently check out, including participants of Gallery Weekend, and some to visit in the (hopefully) near future!