With the imminent closing of beloved Neukölln nightclub Griessmuehle coming up soon, the oldest cinema of Berlin, Moviemento, fighting for its survival and the iconic Clärchens Ballhaus already shut down the current mood of the city is pretty much set. Is the Berlin that we know and love gradually going to shut down now? Did the commercial powers that be finally win and swallow the alternative, untamable, free-spirited Berlin? I’m not gonna blame you if this is how you feel.
As someone who has been observing Berlin for 20 years now, I have seen many cherished clubs and cultural places go, some are even dearly missed today. The division of the city, the unwanted and abandoned places, relics of the industrialization, they all offered so much space for the underground and nightlife scenes to develop and thrive, especially since the wall came down. It created an ever thirsty and unflinching spirit to re-invent, re-purpose and experiment with spaces, objects, ideas. It created a city that turned its lack of pompous sights into a virtue and made its lifestyle into the magnetic quality that brought countless people here over the past couple of decades.
illustration & photo: Amanda Artiaga.
The new decade we have just entered invites comparisons with the much-mythologized 1920s. People are undoubtedly fascinated by that bygone time, and that fascination has found an outlet multiple times even on this very blog, like when we were recounting the 20s nightlife with the History Phone. But the phenomenon is universal – chances are you’ve heard about the very popular TV series ‘’Babylon Berlin’’, which brings to the screen the novels of Volker Kutscher set in the Weimar Republic.
Even though there seem to be clear dichotomies between the former and current 20s like techno replacing jazz, I think that one could also find a few common denominators. Read about some of these cultural intersections of the 20s in this article.
We updated our story to include the latest developments.
Neukölln’s Griessmuehle hosts many of our favorite events. Apart from the iconic parties such as the famous CockTail d’Amore, it’s also the stage for many screenings of Mobile Kino and other community-fostering events like various markets. That’s why we’re all concerned with their recent SOS video message, in which they urge Berlin to ”respect the clubs as they are”.
photo: Patrick1977Bln / CC-BY-SA.
It’s the year 2000. While I was already in my late teens and fresh out of school the rest of the iHeartBerlin crew that you know today was still munching on Fruchtzwerge. It’s the year that I arrived in Berlin, and boy, this was quite a different kind of spectacle than it is nowadays. Imagine coming here without knowing anybody because there were no social media channels to connect with people before you even arrive. And imagine walking around the city with a foldable paper map because there was no Google Maps. Imagine the Eberswalde U-Bahnhof in now-quaint Prenzlauer Berg being the Kottbusser Tor of the time (no idea what the real Kottbusser Tor would have been like because you would JUST NOT GO THERE).
It was the time before the big Berlin hype, the time before waiters that only speak English, before the cult of Berghain, before all these big shopping malls, before Berlin’s main train station, before people complaining about high rents or gentrification, before casual conversations about drug use, before mobs of tourists, before laws against leaving dog poop in the streets, before Air Berlin went bankrupt, before Tempelhof was turned into a gigantic park, before jobs existed in Berlin. It was a totally different world back then. It was a Berlin on the borderline between the raw, untainted post-wall 90s that so many of us older new Berliners idolize, and the Berlin of now.
Collecting small anecdotes of transitory moments.
One last energetic jump—right before departure, I make it into the narrow U1 car.
BEEP BEEP BEEP.
Doors closing; I take a seat on the purple patterned bench,
letting my gaze wander: around me, commuters in disguise––fellow passengers hide their faces behind oversized scarves and collars, almost a dozen figures, in front of nostalgic wood paneling in chestnut brown.
“East or West?” the taxi driver asks in the course of our conversation while driving from Mitte to Kreuzberg. It goes without saying that I am also a Berliner by birth, like him. We talk about the resurrection of the Kurfürsten Damm and the crime on Kottbusser Tor, about the inadequate rents in the city center, and about those who have moved to Berlin, both new and old. “Uh, both,” I reply, biting my tongue at the same time. I realize what’s coming now. “Well, both doesn’t work” he corrects me, wise-assed. “Where did you go to school?” I could just lie and spare ourselves further questions. But we are right there, so I say: “In the West, but we lived in the East. That was before the fall of the Wall. “Now he is quite confused. I know the reaction. Anyone who grew up in Berlin in the 80s is either from the West or the East of Berlin. Only I can not answer this question clearly, because between 1986 and 1990 I lived in East Berlin, but went to school in West Berlin. I crossed the border daily in the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears), as the commute to my school in West Berlin was called. I am neither Ossi nor Wessi, rather maybe Wossi: a child of both sides. I am familiar with the gray East with its bullet holes in the walls of the houses, the empty shelves in supermarkets, and the cozy East German atmosphere.
Collecting small anecdotes of transitory moments.
The underground is full of myths. A place that we share with so many others, yet hardly experience together.
A place where collective memory resides; and although mostly not crossing over the borders of personal experience, some moments transcend into the wider consciousness of the masses.
She was one of them.
Just a mystical rumor at first—captured in shaky Instagram videos and hollow voice messages—spreading along the U8 like a wildfire on a dry day in late August.
A personal-analytical journey, narrated to smashing four-to-the-floor drum beats at 130 bpm.
I turn left and lean against the thin metal wall next to me, the cool stainless steel nestling against my overheated skull. I’m dizzy, sweat running down my forehead. “So, what are we doing?” the familiar, rough female voice has this authoritarian and determined sound to it. A flash of light illuminates my vision—the dusty yellow light bulb’s reflection on the shiny, sterile surface of a mobile phone. Snow gently trickles; seven sweaty, half-naked bodies in a confined space, in need of a clear mind—or wings to fly again. The bass wafts underneath our feet, the sound of a toilet flushing next door.
What am I doing?
Looking at it superficially, I lost control over my life—yet, from a deep analytical point of view, I’m doing everything just right.
The Ballroom scene of Berlin is on fire right now! Never have there been more balls happening with new events popping up every other week. It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm of the young generation and how they rise up to create their own gatherings.
After we had so much fun at the last ball hosted by the charming David Angels Milan during Pride, we teamed up with him for his next ball Voguing for the Ocean that is happening this coming Saturday at Säälchen. The oceanic theme is not just meant as a dress code for the outfits of the Voguers, the event is also a charity fundraiser for the organization Ocean Now that is campaigning to protect this important ecosystem. Voguing for a good cause!
After running his first marathon our guest writer Laurent sat down to share his experience at the run with us, as well as the program that Nike hosted in their Home of Running where he lead a panel talk with the founders of some of Berlin’s biggest running communities.
“Are you running the Berlin marathon?” This is probably the question I have been asked the most in the last 3 months. When you are a runner, running a marathon is already one big thing. Living in Berlin and running the Berlin Marathon is THE thing!
This is not just another race. It is the race! It is incredible to see how the city changes from the week prior to this big event. Runners from all countries are invading the city and bring it to life in a different way! Streets, parks, cafés, runners are everywhere, getting their last kilometers before the big day! The atmosphere and enthusiasm around running have been growing so much in the past years. And Berlin has definitely played an enormous role in shaping the running culture.