On my first visit to Berlin, a man spat at my feet. His eyes were the eyes of a soldier at war. Precise, alert, and distrusting. And he had just spotted a body he considered the enemy. That body was queer, stout, and black. We were sitting across from each other on a train headed towards the direction of Alexanderplatz. A few moments before, I had just described Berlin to my mother as the embrace of a dearly loved one. Warm, soft, and safe. As I was peeling my phone from my ears, the spitter looked me in the face, coughed out the whiteish foam which he splashed across my feet. The act of spitting at my feet wasn’t a cleansing and or a fortification ritual done to welcome my feet to new and uncharted terrain. That was disgust, anger, and a kind of aggression that sent shivers down my spine. He was sending a clear message. One that was unmistakably meat to say; you are not welcome here. His message had three clear intentions; to warn me, put me in my place, and remind me I did not belong. He needed me to know that. It resonated. I didn’t even say a word. I took the message, got off the train one stop before my intended exit location. There, I waited for the next train in a stooping position. With a sigh and a paper napkin, I wiped my feet clean again.
On the occasion of the 200 year anniversary of the choir of Staatsoper Berlin, we from iHeartBerlin got a really special assignment. We asked five Berliners if they would come to the big stage of the Opera for a musical experiment. We didn’t tell them what would happen…
Can you remember the last time somebody sang for you like maybe your parents did when you were little? I don’t mean a big concert where Beyoncé or Lady Gaga performs, even though after two years of a pandemic, this would be fun. I mean the personal experience of having somebody stand close to you and sing a song – a song that enters your body and mind through your ears, your skin. Something you can’t see, but only feel with every ounce of your body?
After another winter and spring where most cultural activities were closed to the public, together with Staatsoper Berlin we thought about how we could celebrate the art of singing in a choir and the power of the human voice in one unique film.
photo: Roger Sabaté.
Berlin has been unrecognizable to its long-term inhabitants ever since March 2020. Lockdown after lockdown has gradually changed our carefree reality into an enduring nightmare. What’s the allure of the free-spirited capital when its clubs, bars, and cultural institutions are closed off for an indefinite time? And yet, even in those dire circumstances, some brave souls still sought to make Berlin their new home. How is moving to Berlin in the pandemic different than what most of us ex-pats have experienced?
photos: Andrea Hansen.
Hidden amongst other notes hanging from a lamppost, not far from my apartment in Friedrichshain, something caught my eye.
Berlin – the city whose residents communicate via notes:
Apartment-hunters, declarations of love, Weltschmerz, lost teddy bears, the announcement of a party, sometimes also the announcement of a natural home birth and accompanied by a request not to call the police due to the resulting noise. There is nothing that cannot be said in Berlin using this form of communication.
The note that caught my eye was asking for help on an indie movie set.
“I love the Südländer men” was one of the most common messages I would receive when I was still on dating apps, oftentimes as the cherry on top to complete the recipe. Apparently, it was deemed to be a compliment for some but to me, it was downright offensive. It only showed how the lack of race talk in Germany failed to educate people that racial fetishization was not a suave thing and it was blatant objectification. I was never part of the macho and aggressive Südländer stereotype they had in their fantasies and I was never willing to be, to the much disappointment of my suitors.
Conversations about race can be very difficult in Germany, even in our city that people regard as one of the most open-minded and equal places in the world. Self-defensive reactions to race talks and complete rejection of the conversation led our society to define racism differently from other parts of the world, creating multiple misconceptions about it. Some of these experiences of racism in Berlin are narrated by a series of short video portraits called DIRE-Logues by BlackBrownBerlin co-founder Chanel Knight. Established in 2018, BlackBrownBerlin aims to empower POC communities in Berlin and beyond, and speak up about discrimination and misrepresentation. You can read our previous interview with them here to learn about their story, mission, and activities.
illustrations: Sophia Halamoda.
As a native Istanbulite, summers always meant eluding the city as soon as possible with everlasting fear of crowds, the heatwaves and the tourists during the entire three months. Leaving the city in summer is almost a global tradition for every metropolitan, except for Berliners. We prefer to foray into foreign lands in winters, but every true Berliner knows in their heart that our city is exceptionally beautiful and sexy in the summer, and we don’t want to skip a bit of it.
Inspired by some of the chapters in our book Like A Berliner, we narrowed down our favorite activities that make Berlin so special in summer. If you enjoy it, you should get the limited summer package including our 2 books Like A Berliner, Learn Deutsch with iHeartBerlin and the “Summer in Berlin” poster in our webshop!
In the last couple of days, Berlin is finally starting to wake up again and feel like the multi-faceted and fun city that we all know and love. The sun is shining, people are outside and the Berlin vibes are slowly kicking in.
What better moment to come out with something new than now? We’re all craving some pleasure, and ice cream, and some golden sunsets. It feels like the perfect timing for what Magnum has in store for us.
Recently I was lucky to get a glimpse of some shiny things coming up at the press event by Magnum. Of course, there was a brand new ice cream flavor involved, and some amazing bedazzled roller skates. Sounds like fun? Let’s dive in…
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.
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.
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…