We’ve just celebrated International Women’s Day when it is customary for our social media feeds to start filling with messages of female empowerment. But obviously, celebrating being a woman should not happen merely on an annual basis. And what is more, the joy over how far we’ve come should not eclipse the work that still has to be done. We need more awareness about issues of intersectional feminism in our day-to-day lives. One such issue is the fact that womxn still cannot always feel safe in the streets of Berlin. “I’M BORED”, a short film by Chelsea Herbert and Alex Newton, is an honest and ultimately hopeful reflection on street harassment by a girl who’s grown tired of it.
photo: Lindsey LaMont.
Growing up, the meaning of March 8th has changed a lot for me over the years. When I was younger, Women’s Day was simply when my father would bring home flowers for my mother, myself and my sister, a Soviet tradition my parents had brought with them from Kazakhstan.
Later as a teen, it was to feel a sense of sisterhood as I texted my best girlfriends “Happy Women’s Day!” and exchanged with them words of encouragement after yet another day of navigating high school sexism from boys in our class.
Now today as an adult, March 8th reminds me to take a moment to reflect on women’s issues I care about, whether personal or systemic, while also celebrating myself and the women around me.
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.
A new trailer for the highly anticipated queer movie Boy Meets Boy has been released before the film’s world premiere at BFI Flare: London LGBTQI+ Film Festival this month. Directed by Daniel Sánchez López, we embark on a love story that sparkles between two guys on a dance floor and turns into a one-day-adventure on the streets of Berlin.
“The contrasts in their lives and values force each one to confront their own truths. Boy Meets Boy is a feature-length mumblecore about the journey of a brief encounter: the mark left by a fleeting moment of joy.”, the official synopsis says.
It’s kind of hard to admit this, but to be brutally honest: I’m not doing great. It’s surprising after a year of the Corona crisis. I feel like 50% of my time I have to invest into staying somewhat sane which means a lot of other stuff gets left behind. But when I look around me, some of my friends seem in even darker places and that’s a scary thing because how can you be of support if you yourself are also not in the best place. Maybe you can’t. But maybe you can at least not do anything completely wrong.
Our friend and collaborator Sophia Halamoda who we co-created our Like A Berliner book with, has dedicated a brand new comic to this very sensitive topic. In it, she describes how she believes we should treat our friends that are in crisis mode and it takes a particularly close look at the very difficult but very real topic of toxic positivity. It’s something we have all probably mindlessly practiced once and this particular situation is making it clear, how that is a rather lazy cop-out than actual help.
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.
La Case Paulette. photo: Vitaly Soroka.
Celebrating and empowering Black communities should not just be limited to Black History month, but this is a good time for us to reflect on how we as individuals can help dismantle institutionalized racism in the spaces we occupy.
To keep the conversations surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement from 2020 alive, it’s important to continue to do our part in uplifting BIPOC communities going forward. One way you can do so from your own home is by supporting Black-owned businesses and donating to community organizations. Needless to say, any contribution is particularly valuable during these times due to the negative financial impact of the ongoing pandemic.
To get you started, here is our curated list of Black-owned shops, restaurants, and organizations for you to get to know. Make a donation, share their pages on your social networks, enjoy a delicious takeaway meal or find your next favorite clothing item from our guide below.
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.