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…
Rice and Shine, photo: Valerie Siba Rousparas.
Following the tragic shooting in Atlanta, Georgia that killed 8 Asian-Americans on March 16, 2021 the topic of anti-Asian racism has been in the spotlight around the globe, an issue that does not exclude our very own Berlin.
Especially due to the pandemic with phrases like “Kung Flu” and “China virus” being thrown around, Asian communities have become wary of increased anti-Asian racism. For myself, this past year has forced me to be aware of my Asianness more than ever, leaving me to wonder if the person who just moved away from me on the U-Bahn only did so because of my almond-shaped eyes smiling at them from behind my mask.
While COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation, racism towards Asians has been around long before the pandemic. Here in Berlin, I have had men fetishize my “exotic oriental beauty” and “ching chong” gibberish shouted at me on the street, just to name a few mild remarks. Attention needs to be brought to such experiences not to complain of our beloved Berlin, but because we care about this city and want to help make it feel safer for the communities that make this place so special.
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.