NIGHTLIFE IN BERLIN
FROM THE ROAD CLEANING HOUSE
The art students I met hours ago urge me to-yes-come on inside. This is Tacheles, which has been transformed from a luxury hotel to a WWII ruin to a squatters’ hive. Recent changes bother my guides. There used to be this scorched toilet just hanging out of the wall way up there, and a car sticking out of the ground, Holgar says. Now it’s getting gentrified.
On the top floor, overlooking Berlin from a bom bed-open room, a DJ spins. This place is not that cool,” says Holgar. I ask him what is. There was a wreck on my block, he says, that had a party the night before it was renovated. There was a plank over a hole in the floor that you lowered yourself into. There was a little girl on a folding chair saying, Give me five euros.’ Then you went down and there was a room of people just smoking, and you went down more and kids were serving beer from crates, and then down more and finally a big thumping techno party. It was just-he gets wistful-just completely illegal and against any fire and safety codes..
He sighs and looks out over the city. Berlin’s transformation has brought miracles habitable buildings with central heat in neighborhoods that had none-but it also raises rents. Many still search for the underground party, the unofficial club. If you come soon, and look hard, you just might find it.
Quasimodo, Kantstr. 12a. U2: Zoologischer Garten. Beneath a huge cafe, this concert venue showcases soul and jazz. Cover ‚7-24. Open M-F from 5pm, Sa-Su from 2pm.
A-Trane, Bleibtreustr. 1 (313 25 50; www.a-trane.de). S3, 5, 7, 9, or 75 to Savignypl. There’s little chat: the jazz fans are here for the music. Cover ‚8-15. Doors open at 9, musicians play 10pm-2am weeknights, later on weekends. Usually closed M and Su.
Insel der Jugend, Alt-Treptow 6 ( 53 60 80 20). S4, 6, 8, or 9 to Treptower Park, then bus #265 or #N65 to Rathaus Treptow. The name means island of youth, but Pinocchio never had it this good. Located in the Spree River, the island is accessible by bridge only. Three winding stories of gyrating youth are complemented by bars, river-side couches, an open-air movie theater and a sweet little cafe. Depending on the night, the top 2 floors spin reggae, hip-hop, ska, and house (sometimes all at once), while the frantic techno scene in the basement claims the casualties of the upper floors. Club cover Th-Sa ‚4-6, movies ‚5. Club open W from 8pm, F-Sa from 10pm; cafe open Su and Tu-Sa 3pm-late; movies M, Tu, Th, and Su.
GAY AND LESBIAN NIGHTLIFE
Berlin is one of the most gay-friendly cities on the continent. During the Cold War, thousands of homosexuals flocked to Berlin to take part in its left-wing activist scene as well as to avoid West Germany’s Wehrpflicht (mandatory military service). Christopher Isherwood lived at Nollendorfstr. 17 in legendarily gay-friendly Nollendorfplatz while writing his collection of stories Goodbye to Berlin, later adapted as the musical Cabaret. The main streets, including Goltzstr. Akazienstr. and Winterfeldtstr. have mixed bars and cafes, while the Bermuda Triangle of Motzstr. Fuggerstr. and Eisenacherstr. is more exclusively gay.
Mann-o-Meter, Biilowstr. 106, at the comer of Else-Lasker-Schiiler-Str. offers counciling and info on nightlife. (216 80 08; www.mann-o-meter.de. Open M-F 5-10pm and Sa-Su 4-10pm.) Spinnboden-Lesbenarchiv, Anklamer Str. 38, is the lesbian equivalent. Take U8 to Bemauer Str. ( 448 58 48. Open W and F 2-7pm.) For up-to-date event listings, pick up the free Siegessaule, Sergej (for men), or Blattgold (for women). The second half of June culminates in the ecstatic, champagne-soaked floats of the Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade, a six-hour-long street party drawing more than 250,000 revelers (June 26, 2004). The weekend before CSD sees the smaller Lesbisch-schwules Stadtfest (city fair) at Nollendorfpl.
m Hafen, Motzstr. 19. Ul: Nollendorfpl. All its art was made by one of the eight owners, who take turns tending the bar. Mostly male but not restricted. The weekly pub quiz (at 10pm) is in English the first M of each month. Open daily 8pm-late.
Heile Welt, Motstr. 5. Ul: Nollendorfpl. Despite the recent addition of two enormous, quiet inner sitting rooms, the clientele still packs the bar and spills into the street. Mostly male crowd during prime time, more mixed in the early evening and early morning. Open 6pm-4am.
Neue Ufer, Hauptstr. 157. U7: Kleistpark. Formerly the other shore, this long-running cafe has become the new shore. The Milchkaffee still flows and the mood is still mellow. M-Th and Su llam-lam, F and Sa llam-2am.
IS Rose’s, Oranienstr. 187 (615 65 70). Ul: Gorlitzer Bahnhof. Marked only by Bar over the door. It’s Liberace meets Cupid meets Satan. A friendly, mixed gay and lesbian clientele packs this intense and claustrophobic party spot at all hours of the night. Mar-garitas ‚4. Open daily 10pm-6am.