Germans are famous for their grumpiness – and sometimes it feels like the new expats are adapting it quicker than they would admit themselves. While gentrification is a real issue, we cannot stay entirely focused on that, because that leaves us with no time to support new initiatives with the potential to have a really positive impact on our city. Today, we are presenting 5 such ideas from the minds of our local visionaries – the future may not be as dim as you’ve thought!
Who would have thought in the mid 2000s that a tiny shack of scrap wood on an abandoned lot at the river Spree would ever become the quirky urban oasis that is the Holzmarkt today?
It was in the year 2004 when I stepped into the so-called Bar25 for the first time. At the time it was a tiny improvised bar made of recycled wood at the end of an overgrown footpath in the wastelands of the Spree riverbanks in Friedrichshain. There was no techno party going on there, just the comfort of a worn out couch and some beers. I was on a date then that I hardly remember now, but I remember the place because it became of one the most legendary international techno clubs and a hub for youth culture of the post-millennium era.
Over the course of the next 7 years the buzz around this inconspicuous little place became louder and louder. I dropped by every now an then observing their journey to techno heaven and international fame. The bar grew bigger ever year, adding a small circus arena, a pizza parlor, a restaurant, a spa, a pool, a hostel and more cute little things to its world making it a little paradise that you never wanted or needed to leave. They started the whole cult of going to a place and not leaving it for 5 days straight. You didn’t have to, because there was everything you needed – plus a swing with a lovely view of the sunset over the Berlin city silhouette. There was a lot of feathers, confetti and glitter involved, something that set the Bar25 apart from it’s more understated neighbor Berghain that opened around the same time as them.
photo: Philipp Bögle
Celebrating 20 years of a company really requires something very special and what could be more special than illuminating the city? For eBay this dream birthday gift came true last night when light artist Gerry Hofstetter drove on the river Spree with his big projector and illuminated the building along the shore with iconic Berlin graphics and the eBay anniversary logo. For the people passing by this became quite the spectacle as the projections spanned entire stretches of buildings. Between the Melia Hotel at Friedrichsstraße and the Schleuse am Mühlendamm almost every building was enlightened and even though it rained so many people came or stopped to see the light installations. After the jump we have a couple of impressions for you! Happy Birthday, eBay!
photo: Daniel Bolloff
This Thursday evening, September 10, as it’s getting darker outside with the end of summer the Spree will be transformed into a light landscape. Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter will illuminate buildings along the Spree between Berlin Hauptbahnhof and East Side Gallery as part of eBay‘s 20 year anniversary celebrations. Internationally renown, the investment banker turned marketing consultant and artist has been transforming public buildings, monuments as well as landscapes and whole mountains since 1999, and actually this is the second time in Berlin for Hofstetter as he illuminated the Brandenburger Tor in 2005. See more examples and read more about the upcoming installation after the jump. Read on…
Outdoor activities may not be the first thing you think about in context with Berlin but in summer this metropolis’ parks, unique green areas and the Spree are the perfect backdrop for some outdoor fun. Berlin is filled with little and big parks so there is always the option to get your friends together for a picnic in the park, sip a cold drink and just chill in one of the beach bars by the Spree or take a day trip and go swimming in one of the many lakes around Berlin.
But maybe you’ve done all this already and and are now looking for a bit more adventure? Fret not, you don’t need to leave your beloved city to find adventure. We have compiled a list for you on where to get active and get your blood pumping in Berlin. Read more about our recommendations after the jump.
Last night we had the pleasure to spend a wonderful summer evening and night at the Jackie O bar at the Spree a bit outside of the city center. Considering the destruction of the club culture and the monopolization of some clubs it comes to no surprise that the number of locations far from the center are growing and becoming more popular. Beyond the S-Bahn ring you are a bit more save from neighbors complaining about noise, impossibly high location rents and also the mainstream party tourism that has sadly dissolved the coolness of a lot of clubs and parties in the past couple of years.
Jackie O is one of these locations that has remained a well kept secret for a few summer seasons now. It’s a short bike ride from Ostkreuz down Köpenicker Chaussee across from Sisyphos and next to Hafenküche. It’s charming outdoor area is right at the river bank of the Spree and in case of bad weather they also have a nice indoor bar and dancefloor. The audience here is not as young, more like 30 plus and definitely more local than it’s neighboring Sisyphos.
Last night they celebrated a summer party with some food stalls, an awesome live concert with Noah Becker’s band Bakery, the first (and golden) edition of the Absolut Art Bar, and the opening reception of the artwork Diagint by Ian Stell. For some impressions have a look after the jump.
photos: Funkhaus Berlin
The Funkhaus Berlin is an old GDR institution where all the recordings for the public radio and TV stations took place. It’s a massive and impressive building directly at the Spree near Rummelsburg. The place is absolutely stunning to look at, both from the inside and outside. Nowadays the Funkhaus is home to many artists and musicians who have their studios and rehearsal spaces in there. You can actually rent spaces in all imaginable sizes for a really moderate price there, and it’s a really inspiring atmosphere there. Sometimes they host open house days, special events and exhibitions so you have the chance to go inside and see the great space turned into a gallery.
This coming weekend “A Happening” will combine music, art and the space. If that’s not a great plan for the weekend I don’t know what is! More about it after the jump.
Have you already been to the Holzmarkt? It’s the new cultural and social space that has been built on top of the former, legendary Bar 25 directly at the shore of the Spree. The Bar 25 is probably one of the most notable clubs of the post-millenium era and even though it has been closed down for years the legand never died with films and books coming out and new places opening up of people from the previous group of owners. The Kater Holzig across the Spree was one of them that was also open for a few years, and the Chalet at former Heinz Minki beer garden is yet another.
It’s pretty much a miracle that the grounds of the old Bar 25 are now back in the hands of the same people even though this area was meant to become one of the construction sites of the city developement catastrophy that is the Mediaspree. Gladly this could be prevented with the efforts of many people getting involved and maybe also some luck and good will of people in high places. The concept was far too tempting: A new cultural and social meeting point with lots of small alternative projects coming together in one place to create a little haven for those who want to escape the commercialized metropolis Berlin is slowly but surely becoming. Here you can grow your own carrots, have your children play on the adventurous playground, eat your vegan burger, watch independant theater productions and performances or simply enjoy the sunset with a view over the river Spree. And what it turned out to be is exactly that. A place that is open to everyone (without the ruthless door policy of the previous Bar 25) to come and feel a little free from everything.
I’m curious what else is going to grow at Holzmarkt as there are still some areas in construction. Right now you can also see the urban farming projects, some food stands and a bar, lots of seating and lounges, the playground, and the amazing looking Ding Dong Dom theater. I hear there are also plans for another club, artist studios and a gallery. I’m sure many events will take place there soon. Go and have a look for yourself. Some impressions after the jump.
If there is one special activity that you can do in Berlin that is totally underrated, it’s this: A boat trip on the river Spree. Everyone is always talking about going to the abandoned places outside the city for some adventure, but how about floating right through it and seeing the city from a very different side that you haven’t seen before?
Two weeks ago I was lucky to go on exactly such a trip. On the occasion of the Red Bull R.Evolution that took place in Köpenick Italian fashion brand 55DSL, who awarded the Rebel of the Day at this event, organized a lovely boat trip on the river Spree. After a nice BBQ we took off with a vintage boat in the evening making this a lovely night trip. We went all the way from Köpenick to Berlin-Mitte. It was quite beautiful to see all the buildings illuminated at night and their lights reflecting in the water. I can really recommend this!
See some beautiful impressions of the trip and read about my encouter with 55DSL label head Andrea Rosso after the jump.
You only know Berlin when you have seen it from a boat! How could you enjoy a party more than on a sunny day on a boat on the Spree? The Salon Zur Wilden Renate meanwhile is a constant institution within the current Berlin club culture. Once a year they do a party on a boat. The following video of the MS Renate, how the boat is called, was made on this year’s first of May and has just been released, guided by a nice remix of 80s band Talk Talk Talk’s song It’s my life. The line-up is Margaret Dygas, Peak & Swift and Samanta Fox of the Wilde Renate crew. Enjoy.