Perhaps the lower cost of living makes a night out less of an anxiety-inducing experience. Maybe the live and let live attitude, reflected in the city-wide rejection of a smoking ban (Hitler was the last person to try and ban smoking in Berlin) makes for a more welcoming atmosphere. All I know is that I found myself engaged in interesting and funny conversations with friends-of-friends and perfect strangers, who genuinely seemed invested in my having a good time in their home city.
Hopping between spots like ‘Silver Futures’, ‘Barbie Deinhoffs’ and ‘Sameheads’ makes for an eclectic evening of great conversations and fond memories. We wound up at Party Colare in Loftus Hall, where no-holds-barred dancing was the order of the night, in a large dimly lit room that felt like it was straight out of the set of a film noir.
Soon enough, as the clock entered its Southern hemisphere, the cocktail (and Jägermeister – come on, don’t judge, it’s the national drink) fueled conversation turned to our strategy for getting into ubiquitous superclub Berghain. Dubbed the ‘best club in the world’ it has an infamously erratic door policy (his name is Sven) and a long queue. There’s no exact science as to how to get past the door team (there’s even an app for it) – but they dictate how your party night starts or ends.
For whatever reason, we made it through, and it was immediately clear why the club is so famous, it’s incredibly impressive. Breaking my own rule, as it was very difficult to stay in communication in this vast, ex-East Berlin power station, I explored its mammoth spaces to a backdrop of deep German techno, swam through the thousands of fist-pumping, euphoric dancers, entered chill-out bliss at the heavenly top-floor Panorama Bar and descended to hell in the underbelly of the club, glad that I left my inhibitions at home. It’s a fun night, so fun in fact that a night can last three days, or so I’m told.
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My last day passed in a blissful haze. Berlin has plenty to offer by way of post-nocturnal diversions. A visit to the ‘Schwules Museum’ proved that, in the hands of a skillful curator, smaller exhibitions can be just as immersive as larger-scale endeavors. I spent hours pouring over the three rooms of their ‘Porn This Way’ exhibit, a balanced and diverse range of perspectives on the queer porn industry. What’s more, countless spaces around the city have been repurposed as galleries displaying experimental and novice work, much to my delight.
We meandered along the streets off Flughafenstraße and dipped into eerie-looking junk shops, only to emerge with unexpected curiosities and just the faintest smell of mothballs. My hoarder instinct took over, and before I knew it my arms were overflowing with pre-loved booty and all manner of sparkly ornaments. Loaded up with treasures, I wandered, dreamlike towards Tempelhof Park. Originally a military parade ground, at the weekends locals would use it as a recreation space. In the 20s, an airport was built there, but, after proving too small to keep up with the aviation boom, it was transformed into a public park. The result is an enormous flat expanse of grass, criss-crossed with former runways, that provides the perfect site for cycling and skating. We opted for the less strenuous option and sat with a picnic on the high bank by the entrance looking out over it all. As the sun dipped lower in the sky (usually indicating the start of another night’s partying, but sadly in my case time to head home) bathing the park in an orange glow, I watched the kites flit across the sky above me, and felt a rare sense of comfort and ease. I surrendered to the fact, they were right all along, I had come to Berlin, and I didn’t want to leave.
Emily’s trip was made possible by Visit Berlin.
Photography courtesy of Visit Berlin, Schwules Museum, by Martin Perry and via Unsplash
Get out there
… remember Berlin has a growing foodie scene. Agora Collective in Mittelweg invites a rising-star chef to cook an experimental dish, which you can sample in their garden for just €5.
… order yourself a Club-Mate, with or without vodka. The city’s answer to Red Bull, it’s ubiquitous and essential in a city that doesn’t prioritise sleep.
… explore Mauerpark on Sundays and the Turkish market in Kreuzberg on Tuesdays and Fridays. New markets are always springing up so ask a local for their current favourite.
… be intimidated by queues or lines. Many nightclubs operate some sort of a door policy, but good things come to those who wait.
… forget Berliners place their bottles around bins rather than inside them as glass and plastic bottles are collected by the city’s poor, who return them to supermarkets for cash.
… isolate yourself. It can be disconcerting to those of us from stand-offish cities, but local friends are the quickest route to the best new spots, and fantastic memories.