I am BerlinerJune 25, 2008
Last DayJune 26, 2008
I woke after
noon. Suk-han, Cynthia and I took a tourist boat ride on the Spree, tuning in to every
English word spoken about the architecture and the history. After that we made our way
across town to meet Corinna at a huge gay (GLBT) festival. After a couple of beers, it was time to go.
There are other things happening here that I just can’t miss.
It was the
summer solstice and a day of music throughout this and most European cities. There were
stages everywhere and people on the street with amps and gathering admirers. Lina had told me about a stage in Kreuzberg that might be worth checking out, so Cynthia and I headed back to our neighborhood. When we arrived, there was a rockin’ local band
on stage. The people there were just drinking beer and enjoying the show.
Cynthia and I
sat working in our Journals and bobbing our heads to the groove. Next we checked out the next nearest stage which featured some punk rock bands.
This was the night that I’d planned would be my big one. Our CS hostesses were
trying to talk me out of wanting to go to Panorama, but I was hell bent on going… with or without
them. I wanted to take a nap, just like the night before, ’cause that worked out so well. But
Suk-Han said that for me to take a nap would be cheating. So, I stayed
up. We headed out around 2am.
There were 5 of us. Cynthia, Suk-Han, Corinna (who was totally drunk from earlier in the day), their friend
____ and me. We went to a local bar. I think that it’s
hilarious how our cultures (European and American) are equally
impressed with one another. When I heard live music inside, I was excited and hoping for something
uniquely German. Instead, what I saw was sort of MTV.
Funny stuff. "Let’s go out smashing cars… and expensive bars…". Totally wacked costumes and attitude. It was fun to watch for a few minutes.
We left there after one drink, but it still was not yet time to go to
Panorama. That scene starts at about 4am. So we head to Bar 25 first. I
was confused and asked, "Wait, I thought that Bar 25 was the ‘day’ club
scene?". The answer was, "it is but it’s still too early for
Panorama, so we go to Bar 25". They’ve got a crazy idea of night and day here. I’m catching on. You just sleep when you can, like at Burning Man.
"We all rolled over and 1 fell out, 4
bears in the bed and the little one said…" (do you remember that song
from Sesame Street?). The walk to the club is a LONG one.
Cynthia isn’t sure if she can hang. It took so long that we decide to
head directly to Panorama.
The club isn’t on the main drag at all. We wander into an industrial
area. No one is on the street, but tons of taxis come and go from a side street within view, so we head in that direction. As we turn onto the road
heading back to the club, Cynthia signs out. We wish her well. I’m
starting to bounce with excitement. The walk is lined in
vertically oriented florescent lights and a really long line to get into
the club. No sign, just people who know where it’s happening. "Corinna is smart," Suk-Han says. She’d jumped ahead in the line and started talking to
two really cute gay boys. These boys are sure to get in easily and she knows that she can
probably just blend in to disguise her drunkenness. Not everyone gets in here. They charge 12 Euros for entry. The days of
the free underground warehouse parties here are over. They check my bag and take my camera. No cameras inside.
I was in awe at the size of this place. The whole building is dark with only ambient and sometimes flashing light: red, yellow, blue, strobe lightning white. On the ground floor is
the entrance with a large coat check area, where I check everything
(except my camera, which is being held safely at the entrance). The
next room has concrete benches and lighted, modern, relief shapes on
the walls. A large metal staircase with a landing leads up to the next
floor. The first dance floor is packed and the music is hard and
driving. Not hard, like industrial, just hard and chaotic. There are pods of dancing shirtless guys with shaved heads. I notice that there are mostly men here, who are mostly gay. Another smaller staircase leads to the next floor, off to the
side of the huge space that the first music/dance space occupies.
Suk-Han says "This is Panorama Bar". It’s better, but still not quite
what I’d hoped for. The music is more fun, but it’s kind of dull, repetitive, and common sounding. Corinna called it typical boring Berlin techno. Suk-Han leaves me there for a moment while she goes to find Corinna and never comes back.
I danced. I danced in Panorama for a bit, then the other bar, then
back to Panorama and through that cycle about 5 times over. I go to the bathrooms, moving past pressed together bodies. I know that the first stall is occupied from the
moaning and grunting within.
As the night moves on it the mood changes. Are people’s drugs coming on? Are the dancers and DJs just now finding their groove? Nighttime is extended in this
place, but outside the light of day is intense. The window shades in
Panorama are electronic and the DJs can open and shut them, which they do every 10
minutes or so, to cheers from the crowd. The light of day is the most
powerful light here and it’s surreal to see that it’s happening out
there without us.
It’s a meat market
I felt eyes on me, I felt someone’s groin
bumping up behind me. I move away. My new dress is a winner, I think. Someone named Benjamin made himself known and
he was beautiful! He’s in Berlin with his football team for a match. He’s from… somewhere else in Germany. We dance. He says "Let’s go and you
will see if German men are good or bad. You will see if they work very
haaaaard for you!". This pretty boy has a tempting proposition, but…
for many reasons I decline. I decide that I’ll have to collect the German flag through the
friends I make here.
Around 7 am I’d had my fill and I headed home. After walking about 15
minutes on sore feet, I realized that I’d forgotten my camera! I didn’t get home until 9am again and I collapsed into deep sleep. My big night was actually much smaller than I’d imagined it would be.