uberlin

Berlintercourse: The ins and outs of dating in Berlin

by Guest Blogger

Dating in Berlin can be weird. I’d been warned before I moved here: “In Berlin findet man mehr Sex als Liebe”; “Everyone is single in Berlin”, etc. But I still had hopes that I would work it out – I even decided to make a challenge out of it. I mean, how could a young, fairly attractive and relatively intelligent girl like me stay single in a city full of hot, interesting and like-minded people? Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to realise that things weren’t going to go as smoothly as I had expected.

I turned to my smartphone as soon as I arrived in Berlin, to make sure I wouldn’t lose too much time out of the game. I figured Tinder would be my best bet, as I didn’t have enough acquaintances or work colleagues to allow me to meet boys through friends. Little did I know that I was entering a world made almost exclusively of dates serving as both first and last encounter, plenty of shattered hopes and – here comes the silver lining – pretty awesome sex. It’s been over six months now and I still haven’t won the game. I have, however, learned some of the rules. And here’s tip number 1: don’t get indignant if you hear that the Berlin dating scene is insane. Just thank whoever was kind enough to warn you.

If you haven’t been greeted by a guy opening his apartment door with his balls hanging out, and a cock ring dangling between them, then how can you be sure that you’ve really lived?

Before you ask, yes, that did happen to me. But I’ll save that story for another time! Anyway, I’ve learned a lot over the past few months. I’ve gone from almost falling in love upon first meeting a guy to having blind sex dates with people I met through OkCupid and knew nothing about. Not necessarily because of Berlin, but because I had just got out of a four year relationship which had repressed what I would describe as mild nymphomaniac tendencies. And what’s wrong with that? I always make the guys wear condoms, I haven’t got pregnant yet and I’ve experienced my fair share of crazy stories.

My dating spree has introduced me to the good, the bad and the ugly of the Berlin dating scene. And no man that I’ve encountered has behaved in a way that could be described as remotely normal. I blamed online dating for this, until I stopped using dating apps for a month. To my horror, I realised that the men I met in the standard, pre-21st century fashion ended up behaving in an even more absurd way.

To give you an idea – I got dumped by this one guy I wasn’t even dating, by receiving a Whatsapp message at 7am on a Monday, as I lay in bed with a boy I’d met at Berghain.

We’d been to KitKatClub the Saturday before, and, after telling me we were absolutely going home together and convincing me to leave some of my clothes at his place, he got off his face on ecstasy and suddenly decided he wanted nothing more to do with me. In the meantime, he had actually introduced me as his girlfriend and asked what our rules were for the evening. We agreed that kissing strangers was fine, and that we would ask first if we wanted to actually sleep with anyone else. I guess it took him 24 hours to decide that the sensible thing to do would be to break up with me and dare to include the words “let’s stay friends” in his message – because why not, right?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to sharing all these fabulous encounters in even more excruciating detail. Stay tuned for a journey in the life of a desperately single Berliner trying to figure out the in and outs of this sex-obsessed city, one or two insane boys at a time.

Can’t wait to hear more? Follow Dating Disaster on Twitter for regular updates.

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Berlin Stag Dos and Don’ts

by James Glazebrook

You may know them as stag dos, bucks nights or bachelor parties. We know them as a scourge on Berlin. Every time we fly back from the UK, we share an easyjet with at least one group of “lads” in t-shirts with a crudely drawn cock and balls on the front and a nickname (“TIGHTARSE”) on the back. As with most tourists, true Berliners like ourselves ;) would prefer they stay away altogether. But if you are planning to invade our city to drown yourselves in beer and regret, please make sure to follow our Berlin Stag Dos and Don’ts.

DO stay out of our way

Rumour has it that the city is considering plans for an easystagvillage somewhere in Brandenburg, accessible by that international airport we might one day have. Of course, this is Berlin, so we expect those 100 acres of brothels and beer flumes to be completed some time in the 22nd Century. Until then, please restrict your movements to between Kreuzberg’s Schlesisches Strasse and the RAW complex in Friedrichshain. Oh, and get the fuck out of the bike lane, Arschloch!

DON’T try too hard

Forget the mankinis and matching slogan shirts in lurid colours. Here’s what you need to wear to stand out in Berlin: not black. In fact, you could be dressed in head-to-toe monochrome and we’d still be able to spot you a mile off, with your banter, your shit-eating grins and your sloppy drinking habits.

DO pace yourself

In Germany, beer is cheaper than water, and it’s a perfectly acceptable breakfast drink. Your only hope of making it to the queue for a club that you probably won’t get into is to pace yourself. Take our word for it: drinking a shandy (Radler) doesn’t make you “queer” – at least, no more than the enforced nudity and piss-drinking you’ll engage in after Beer 15.

DON’T book go-karting

Your taxi rides to and from the airport should provide plenty of high octane thrills and near misses. And, depending on the value you place on human life, they’ll work out cheaper too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO try to get into clubs

Go on, give us a laugh. The queue for Berghain is a big one, so we need some entertainment to pass the time. You lot will do, practising your shitty German and getting off with each other to appear acceptably gay. Who knows – maybe splitting up will work, and the bouncer won’t connect the 11 pink polo shirts dotted throughout the line? As long as you’re going to spend your nights stood outside of our clubs, we’ll be happy to see you try. Go on my son!

DON’T go to a strip club

The old excuse about your fiancée being the last woman you’ll ever see naked just doesn’t fly in this age of ubiquitous porn and Nicki Minaj videos. Besides, there’s precious little point in seeking out a strip club in a country whose mainstream media is smothered in naked breasts. If you want to see some tits, just turn on your hotel TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO experiment

If this is your last night of freedom, why not go really wild? If, by some miracle, you make it into Berghain, you’ll be surrounded by gay guys in various stages of undress, who’ll be happy to show you more than that painting of an arsehole. Think of it like prison – whatever you get up to won’t leave these concrete walls, and it certainly doesn’t make you homosexual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T

Just don’t. The beer is cheap here, but this isn’t a piss-up paradise like Prague. The clubs are amazing, but that’s mainly because they don’t let people like you in. And Berliners won’t even attempt to conceal their contempt for you and everything you represent. If you’re looking for somewhere to remind yourself how shallow and depressing your single life has been, we can recommend our hometown, Newcastle upon Tyne. The locals will welcome you, speak (something close to) your language, and can’t wait to join in as you spill vomit, blood and no small amount of piss all over its streets. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Music Montag: Redshape

by James Glazebrook

Redshape

Redshape by Passetti, under Creative Commons licence Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Here’s what I wrote on Bang Bang Berlin when I first encountered this masked man behind the decks in Berghain:

We’re fans of theatrics, and masks are a surefire way to get yourself seen and your music heard. Leaving our closeted love of Slipknot to one side, we’d like to shine a spotlight on Redshape. The Berlin-based techno head’s blood-coloured Michael Myers mask paradoxically marks him out against the city’s faceless producers and DJs, while maintaining an unsettling air of mystery.

Redshape (AKA Sebastian Kramer) recently revealed a little of the man behind his mask, with an XLR8R podcast that largely eschews his trademark tough techno in favour of some less-obvious influences. Alongside Carl Craig classic “Sandstorms” and tracks from the artist himself and fellow Berliner Plastikman, are Brian Eno and DJ Shadow - whose cinematic works bookend the mix – and leftfield inclusions like a cheesy lounge take on Jean Michel Jarre from Señor Coconut and the RZA‘s “Samurai Showdown”, from the Ghost Dog soundtrack. In fact, one of the few things Kramer gives away is that he’s a film nut: both Eno tracks come from Music for Films and the Shadow numbers include samples from Heat and Network. We’re glad he could tear himself away from his Beamer long enough to lay down such an unexpected and delightful mix.

Check out XLR8R Podcast 273: Redshape after the jump.

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Music Montag: Brunchhain!

by James Glazebrook

Brunchhain
noun [brənʧ heɪn]
1. a big, boozy brunch followed by a trip to Berghain
2. the most fun you can have on a summery Sunday in Berlin

Yesterday was Big Fun for a couple of reasons. It was our first Brunchhain, and our friends Mike and Casey’s first ever trip to Berghain – and it certainly didn’t disappoint. To them, it looked just like the descriptions in our Inside Berghain post (club scene from Blade, techno Crystal Maze…) and sounded suitably apocalyptic:

Outside, it was a different wibe. We spent most of our first Brunchhain in the club’s summer garden, soaking up some rays, some sights (oh, the people watching!) and some warm house grooves, courtesy of Red D. The afternoon’s highlights were disco anthem “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, and the kind of Chicago classics that pepper D’s awesome Ron Hardy tribute mix:

I was a little disappointed that we missed Dinky, whose set was moved from Sunday to Saturday night at the last minute. Here’s the kind of mix I was hoping for from her, back-to-back soul and disco sweetness:

So let me add to the obvious things people say about Berghain: you have to go, and you have to go on a summery Sunday after a big, boozy brunch. In conclusion: BRUNCHHAIN!!!

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Construction Noise – The Real Sound of Gentrifying Berlin?

by James Glazebrook

We’re always asking, what does Berlin sound like? Well, Slow Travel Berlin‘s recent interview with the intriguing Schneider TM provides one answer: Construction Sounds. The title of the electronic artist’s new album describes the field recordings that provide its backbone, the noise from the construction sites surrounding his home studio:

For around 8 or 9 years I’ve lived and worked in my former apartment, which was located in one of the most vibrant renovation areas in East Berlin. The noise of the construction sites literally took over my music and I just surrendered at some point. I started to record and play around with the sounds.

Sometimes abstract and haunting…

…and sometimes, noisy and oppressive…

Construction Sounds reminds me of Ostgun Ton’s Fünf compilation, a diverse set of tracks formed from Emika’s field recordings from inside Berghain. Emika’s one contribution as producer, “Cooling Room” turns the sounds and space of the cavernous club into a clanking, chiming musical sketch:

…all of which makes me wonder what a musician could do with our Berlin Sounds, the field recordings from around the city that you are contributing to our SoundCloud group. We have some ideas of our own, but why not listen to the clips below and let your imagination run wild – could you make music out of this?

Read the complete interview with Schneider TM over on Slow Travel Berlin.

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Berlin Sound: A SoundCloud Group

by James Glazebrook

What does Berlin sound like? Many would nominate the 4/4 thud of the Berghain speaker stacks, the blare of U-Bahn buskers, or squat-party punk. But what about non-music audio?

We’ve set up a SoundCloud group called Berlin Sound, for people to share their sounds from around the city. So far we’ve heard: the hustle and bustle of the Maybachufer market, the eerie calm of Neukölln and Kreuzberg at night, and the seemingly endless announcement from the female “voice” of the U-Bahn when it pulls into Alexanderplatz. Oh yes, and the 4/4 thud of the Berghain speaker stacks!

You can hear the sounds we’ve collected so far using the widget below, or over on the Berlin Sound group page. If you already have some (non-music) audio to share, simply join the group, upload your sound to SoundCloud and click the “Share to group” button on the track player. And why not download SoundCloud’s mobile app, and go out and record something we’ve never heard before?

We’d love to hear your Berlin Sounds!

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Sorry Sunday Times, Berlin’s clubs aren’t “satanic”

by James Glazebrook

A week before our last visit to Berghain, Zoë’s parents read something that gave them cause for concern. According to a hysterical article in The Sunday Times, the UK’s most popular weekly newspaper, inside the (in)famous Berlin club the “smell of sex is overpowering”. I’ve never smelt anything like that inside the club, but I did get a whiff of something when I opened the copy of the Times my in-laws mailed to us. Bullshit.

Berlin's "return to decadence" by The Sunday Times

I can’t link to the article, because the News International dinosaurs have hidden it behind a paywall – which is either unfortunate or lucky for you, depending on how much you like to be angered by sensationalism and lies. (As you’re about to find out, I love it.) You can however, see the “trailer” for the article (click through on the image above), and read a pretty decisive dismantling of it over on skruff.com. Quoted there, former Bar 25 resident DJ Beaner is the voice of reason:

it’s just the basic London journalism. You know, it’s using vague second hand non-facts to prove a story that you set out to write already… That kind of stuff [writer Christopher Goodwin] described does exist in a few places in Berlin though I honestly think Berlin was wilder and more hedonistic a few years back.

The point is not that sex and drugs aren’t common features of certain Berlin nightspots, just that they aren’t everywhere, in every club – as Goodwin suggests. His assertion that “the Berlin scene is driven by such blatant sexual licentiousness and ubiquitous drug-taking that it would make the denizens of the decadent Weimar clubs of 1920s Berlin blush in their velvet coffins”, is based 75% on a visit to the KitKatKlub, and 20% on a trip to Berghain. If you go to a fetish club, you are going to see sex, and if you go to a gay club, you are going to see gay stuff.

To “report” such goings-on so pornographically (“a model-beautiful blonde woman in her early twenties is being taken from behind by an athletic young guy as she orally gratifies another man while stimulating a third with her hand”) and to imply that they take place in every Berlin club is far more irresponsible than any of the participants’ actions. Labelling an article “not suitable for children” is the worst kind of tabloid journalism, as is the use of homophobic and demonising language (“minces”, “as satanic as the club he owns”) and the outrageous, downright racist suggestion that “many fear [Berlin] will degenerate into a crisis as serious as that which gave rise to Nazism.”

Count yourself lucky you can’t read this shit. But be prepared for questions from concerned relatives back home who have been conned into believing that everyone in Berlin is fucking and drugging themselves silly, out in the open. Just be straight with them: drug-taking is more open here, but probably no more prevalent than clubs in London or anywhere else; the sex is consensual and takes place in designated fetish clubs (which also exist everywhere); and you’ve seen far fewer casualties of substance abuse or violence here than anywhere else you’ve ever lived. Stick that in your bigoted, fear-mongering pipe and smoke it, Sunday Times.

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A Wild Weekend in Berlin

by James Glazebrook

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Our New Year’s Resolutions

by James and Zoe

We like challenges. That’s one of the reasons we moved to Berlin in the first place. But we’re also *very* lazy, and having a nice apartment that doubles as our office – and has a projector in it – has seen us develop some bad habits. That’s why we’re posting our New Year’s resolutions here for all to see. Accountability, people. Wish us luck!

1. Speak German
I’m aware that I talk a lot about *trying* to learn German, but haven’t done much in this direction since my last lesson, over six months ago. Instead of aiming for something so vague and open-ended, I’m going to get out there, use what German I do have, and hoffentlich pick up some more. 

2. Introduce myself
I like meeting new people, but I’ve always been shit at greeting them. I may be unsure about whether I should be shaking your hand, kissing your cheek (twice?) or, I don’t know, dry-humping your leg, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t part ways at least knowing each other’s names.

3. Exercise every day
There are a lot of advantages to working from home, but *not* becoming a fat bastard isn’t one of them. I’m never going to “buff up” but a daily run or walk (at least downstairs!) will help my health - physical and mental – no end.

4. See more of my family
Prepare to be shocked: I’ve only seen my two year-old niece twice, and I’ve NEVER met her one year-old sister. The selfish bitches haven’t visited us in Berlin once! Maybe I should be visiting my family more often…

5. Sort out my style
Before you rush to defend my wardrobe (anyone?), there’s probably an age (and decade) past which men shouldn’t wear skinny jeans. And if I don’t commit to resolution #3, pretty soon I’ll look like an onion stuck on top of two toothpicks. Anyone with ideas about how to maintain a heavy metal edge in your 30s and not look ridiculous, get in touch ASAP.

1. Take more photos
With Berlin as my subject this really shouldn’t be that hard. But every time I set the alarm to get up for one of those apparently amazing sunrises, I snooze right through it. Next year I shall be a proper legit photographer and get up crazy early to take pictures of landscapes and crap and hate every minute of it. Huzzah!

2. Get out of the apartment more
Freelancers out there will sympathise with this one. Working from home has its perks (sweatpants as second skin, rolling out of bed and into the “office” and showering very VERY irregularly), but it also has downsides. A lack of human contact (James doesn’t count) means I’m losing the few social skills I used to have. In 2012 I’m going to get up, get ready and see REAL LIFE PEOPLE. And maybe even chat to them if I’m feeling brave.

3. Get out of Berlin more
Now you all know how much we love Berlin (no duh). With so many amazing things to see and do all over the city it’s easy to remain in our lovely little bubble and never leave the place. But to be within a two-hour plane journey of places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Stockholm and to not see them, is just totes ridick.

4. Get a dog
Berlin you evil wench you, you’ve made me want to get a dog! Maybe it’s the change in lifestyle and the need for an aid to resolution #2, or the fact that dogs seem to be permitted everywhere in Berlin and I’m constantly being exposed to cute, furry little things. Whatever it is, I got the bug. Just for the hell of it I asked our landlord whether we could have a dog, and she actually said yes (only in Berlin!) so watch this space dog lovers.

5. Go clubbing at Berghain
Although I’ve been to Berghain many times for gigs, I’ve never actually been clubbing there. I know, GASP. This may be a Berlin “must-do” for any techno lover but every time a trip was planned I always seemed to be in London for work. After being here over a year and never pumping fists within its sweaty walls, or seeing the sun rise through bleary eyes, I feel like a fraud. Well no more I say!

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A Year in Berlin – Five Things We’ve Learned

by Zoë Noble

Not much German, unfortunately.
We started with good intentions. We did an intensive course for two months when we arrived, but three hours after a full day’s work, four times a week, was clearly too much German for anyone. By the end I was ready to shoot myself AND all Germans, just for the Dative case alone! Not the attitude I wanted to have with my new countrymen so a break was probably a good thing. Only now are we getting back on der Waggon – join us on Twitter where we are posting a word a day under the hashtag #dailydeutsch.

A German accountant is your best friend.
With our limited understanding of German, receiving letters with official looking stamps on them can be quite scary. Opening them to see pages and pages of text, some of it bolded AND underlined, with intimidating words like “Lastschrifteinzugsverfahren” (“Direct Debit”, for God’s sake!) can be quite unsettling. After James took over three hours to Google Translate one letter which simply informed us of our tax reference number, we knew, for our own sanity, that we needed to get an accountant.

Germans stare.
This one took a bit of getting used to. For the first few months we just couldn’t understand what the hell was wrong with people or, more importantly, with us! We initially put it down to the locals not being used to seeing exotic London folk like us (we’re the only ones here, right?), but we now know this is just their way and not to take it too personally. Also, I’ll win any staring contest so BRING IT ON BEATCHES!!

To carry cash at all times.
Debit and credit cards aren’t accepted in 99% of Berlin’s restaurants, cafés and bars. We English are so used to handing over that little bit of plastic for everything that this was hard to get your heads around: “You don’t accept THIS card you mean, right??” Er no… So off James would go in search of a cashpoint, leaving me alone for twenty minutes, looking like a jilted lover. Lesson learned – we now carry a wad of cash that would make Tony Soprano feel self-conscious.

Everything is shut on Sundays.
Seriously, everything – supermarkets, clothes shops, IKEA…the lot! This can be frustrating when you haven’t got any food in the cupboards or desperately need to buy that new oven mitt, but when you get used to it, it can actually work to your advantage. Sundays are now perfect for that lovely stroll along the canal, cleaning up the house or doing all those odd jobs you keep putting off. Or even better, going for brunch and then off to pump some fists in the air at Berlin’s best club Berghain!

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