So I always wondered about East Berlin before the wall came down, and immediately there after. I wonder sometimes about Cuba, too. There are stories and movies, but that's never the same as going yourself. Luckily for me, my new-found friends have a love for the party scene in East Berlin and I might not be able to travel in time, but I can do the next best thing!
We had intended initially to go to Watergate, one of the "hippest" clubs in Berlin according to published knowledge (I've recently discovered that there's a difference between published knowledge and underground knowledge in Berlin, but more on that in a later post). They wouldn't let us in because - get this - one of the men was too nicely dressed. Not underdressed. He was overdressed. And you want to know what part was overdressed? His plain, boring, white shirt. Because it was a button-up. Only in Berlin.
Anyway, we head further east to About Blank. East Berlin still looks like East Berlin, and it's as good as time traveling. We paid an 8 Euro cover because they had a special DJ performing, but it's typically free to get in. I kid you not, the front of the club:
The inside is pretty much the same. Sparse to no decorations or lighting, there is only one bathroom which is in questionable conditions, and the furniture may very well be left over from 1989. The music was also awesomely 1980s, with some jazz saxophone and electric piano mixed into the house beats. At the same time, the eclectic collection of people belied the feeling of being in 1980s Berlin. There were two rooms with bars and dancing inside, and the backyard had been haphazardly converted into a lounge area, sound stage and fast food stand (which served only waffles and french fries). The area was lit only with LED light strips in shades of blue and green, further adding to the aura of an underground club from a different time period. We danced and talked until 4:30am, at which point the rising sun suggested it was time to go home. The entire night had felt like a strange time trip, particularly apparent at one point when a girl walked by with parachute pants on. The contrast between people dressed like her, and people dressed in modern clubbing clothes, along with the hipsters, the underground clubbers, and the Schikimikis* was amazing.
While we were dancing, one of the Germans leaned over and yelled, "I feel like I'm in a club in East Berlin immediately 'nach der Wende'*". I couldn't have said it better myself.
*Schikimiki was originally slang for people who are famous for being party people. Like, Paris Hilton would be a "Schikimiki". However, this term has since been loosened to include people who go to clubs and bars dressed like people who are famous for being party people. Not impersonators, but in fancy clothes with fancy brand names and fancy hair, etc.
*"nach der Wende" means after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Literally translates to "after the turn"