uberlin

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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Another Year in Berlin: überlin’s Highlights of 2012

by James and Zoe

Wow, what a year! It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Berlin two years – because it feels like we’ve lived here forever, yet sometimes it’s like we’ve just stepped off the plane. That’s the enduring freshness of love, I guess. Too sappy? Then maybe we’ll just skip to our highlights of 2012: our favourite moments and places, most awesome blog posts, and all the other (furry) little things that made the year our best yet.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: January

The Loxx Miniature Railway version of Berlin is probably the city’s best-kept secret, or at least it was until our photos ended up on the front page of The Guardian website. Small world(!) – on our second visit to the mini-Berlin on top of Alexa mall, we ran into Dave from the blog Andberlin – who also named Loxx as one of his highlights of the year. This is the perfect place to go on a rainy winter’s day.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: February

To celebrate Zoë’s birthday we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen and while we were there, visited the most beautiful and inspiring place we’ve ever been. Looking back at our post about the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, I feel like my words fail to live up to Zo’s stunning photos, and even those can’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the museum and its coastal environment. We thoroughly enjoyed our short time in Scandinavia, but the Louisiana was the hands-down highlight.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: March

The first of our articles to appear on The Guardian, 5 Apps Berlin Really Needs, was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the buzzy, bubbly startup capital of Europe. Our iProtest app concept gamified civil disobedience, while Angry Berliners turned German bureaucracy into an addictive platform game. Our Buskamatic app aside, March was a great month for music – Modeselektor released the iconic video for their “Berlin” anthem, and we discovered Big Stu’s comedy rap tributes to Hühnerhaus and Kottbusser Tor.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: April

Our personal highlight of the year has to be getting our hands on this little ball of cute. In fact, Olive is probably many readers’ main reason for visiting the blog – we might be better off training her to work a camera and a laptop and leaving her to it! The unofficial überlin mascot, Big Ö is recognised way more frequently than we are, and has turned up in the unlikeliest of places – including an Instagram tutorial video and a conversation with a Bully-obsessed stranger at my cousin’s wedding (“you own Olive the dog?!!!”). Apart from welcoming our fuzzy daughter to the fold, we also ate the meal of the year (with matched cocktails!) at Rollin Restaurant.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: May

If our May pick was a movie it would be the überlin prequel, Escape from Newcastle. While our home toon stands for everything we hate (or is that the other way around?), we still have a soft spot for the football-loving Stella-downing lads and lasses we grew up with – something we hope came across in our “origin story”, From Geordie Shore to Germany. Back in Berlin, visiting friends introduced us to the Ramones Museum, the only such institute devoted to the Detroit proto-punks in the whole world, the personal collection of a Berliner who must be their greatest fan.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: June

It might seem obvious, but our What I Know about Germans post is like David Hasslehoff’s “Looking For Freedom”: ubiquitous, infectious, and every German loves it ;) . Credit for our “greatest hit” actually goes to writer Liv Hambrett, for her keen observations about her adopted countrymen, and illustrator Mischief Champion who’s busy bringing them to life for WIKAG – the book! Photo op of the month (year?) had to be Berlin Gay Pride 2012 – so many queers! So many colours!

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: July

It seems like a long time since Zoë spent a boiling Berlin Fashion Week maximising her time in the air-conditioned tent, and occasionally popping outside to photograph slebs like Fashionbloggerin Miggy. Lucky for us, she braved the heat long enough to get these impressions of Berlin Fashion Week SS13.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: August

While Peaches was never exactly a reason for moving to Berlin, we’ve never been able to think about the city without picturing her merkin. Since we arrived, we’ve been lucky enough to see her twice: “doing herself” live on stage and orchestrating a protest/video shoot in support of Pussy Riot. We weren’t the only starstruck fans following this freak parade into Mauerpark, and it was impressive to see Ms Nisker whipping up a storm to publicise an important – and still ongoing – cause. Less colourful, but no less eye-opening, was guest blogger Russell Dornan’s look behind the closed doors of Berlin’s Natural History Museum.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: September

You Know You’re a Berliner When… you pose for a photo pretending the TV Tower is your penis, which then becomes a lightning rod for critics of hipsters, expats and archisexts (I made this one up). Having regular “Berlinergasms” was just one of 11 sure-fire signs that you’ve become a Berliner, along with dancing in a U-Bahn station and witnessing at least one daily act of crazy. Zoë saw more craziness at London Fashion Week SS13 – here is just a taste.

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: October

October was a month of light and dark. The gloomy nights provided the perfect backdrop for the Festival of Lights and (we think) our animated GIFs were the perfect demonstration of the event’s kaleidoscopic displays. Far less joyful was Berlin Crawling: 10 Halloween Horror Films, a list of creepshows shot here in the Haupstadt, ranging from the slick (the neo-Giallo short Yellow) to the just plain sick (corpse love story Nekromantik).

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: November

We’re so glad Phia agreed to be the first subject in our series of Berlin portraits. We’d heard the Australian singer/songwriter/thumb-pianist at an intimate concert in a fellow musician’s house, and loved her stories and songs about her granddad, a Berliner, and what it meant to live in his hometown. We spent a beautiful, crisp day discovering her Berlin, and sharing our love for the creative, open city we now call home. Oh, and we celebrated two years of überlin/living in Berlin!

ĂĽberlin's highlights of 2012: December

As we entered our third winter in Berlin, we thought we should share the survival skills we’ve picked up with expats who’ve recently arrived from warmer climes. With the help of Josh Bauman’s awesome caricatures of us (and Olive!), our more-or-less practical tips about How to Survive a Berlin Winter helped to restore calm among the panicky sun-botherers freaking out at the first sight of snow. I wonder if anyone’s quit their job or grown a beard on our advice? And giving away €250 of Berlin-themed swag was a great way to end another awesome year of überlin.

Join us in 2013 for more Berlin love and LOLs. Happy New Year!

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From Geordie Shore to Germany

by James Glazebrook

We’ve recently been made aware that the ĂĽberlin origin story is incomplete. We use phrases like “London to Berlin”, “LDN to BLN” and “London refugees”, but that’s an oversimplification. Yes, we lived there for five years, and it’s convenient to describe Berlin as being so much cheaper/more liveable/awesomer(?) than London, but that’s not where we’re from. No, both ZoĂ« and myself grew up in the North East of England, in a city called Newcastle upon Tyne.

I’m always surprised when Germans have heard of Newcastle. They may only know Newcastle United FC, and sometimes Newcastle Brown Ale, but as football and drinking makes up 90% of our culture, all they’re missing is the details. Apart from one poor girl who’d had the misfortune to spend a year in Newcastle as a student, for whom this VICE article will make for uncomfortable reading:

Vice

That article is ostensibly about a new generation of students, The Lads, but it’s really about Newcastle. Our hometown is the *only* choice for lads who want to spend their University years drinking, having their faces tattooed on their arses, and getting rapey with the lasses. But local competition to be “Britain’s Biggest Lads” is fierce, coming from these plucked-and-preened trannies with Schwarzenegger bodies and a thirst for fanny:

The Geordie Shore lads and lasses might be extreme examples, but they’re just at the end of a scale on which almost every Toon-dweller sits. The flipside of the stereotype is that we love to party, have a fucking crackin’ sense a’ humour, and are really friendly (unless you come from south of the River Tyne). That’s why stag and hen dos from all over the country flock to the Bigg Market, a concentration of bars and clubs pegged by VICE as “the roughest part of Newcastle City Centre” but which has also been voted

Great Britain’s no. 1 tourist attraction. In the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards for European Nightlife destinations, four of the UK’s nightspots finished in the top 10; Newcastle was awarded 3rd Place behind London, and Berlin

(bold disbelief my own)

Here’s what the Toon’s nightlife is really like:

But it’s not all bad. There’s the Happy Chip, where you can buy poppers with your kebab, and Curry Hell – the world’s hottest curry, free if you can keep it down. There’s a metal club… or there was, until they paved it and put up a parking lot (seriously). In a lot of ways, Newcastle moulded us into the people we are today – ZoĂ«, a true diamond in the rough, and me, just rough. And even though I’d been away to university, went travelling and moved to Edinburgh, it was when I returned to Newcastle that I met Zo – in this very club:

Foundation

Let’s ‘ave it! I actually went to school with R Kelly in the background…

So that’s us. If you’re still interested in our home toon, here are some FAST GEORDIE FACTS what we’ll lorn ya reet good man:

  • The “castle” in Newcastle is pronounced like “hassle” not “parcel”. If you really want to fit in, say NEW’ASSIL MAN.
  • Real Geordies don’t say “Howay” (meaning: come on), we say “Hawez”.
  • We invented the word “chav“. Seriously, we’ve been calling people “charvers” since at least the 90s, when the tracksuits were way more gaudy.
  • Despite having no decent live venues (at least when I lived there), the North East has produced some amazing musicians: Venom, The Animals, Dire Straits, The Wildhearts, yourcodenameis:milo and Bryan Ferry
  • We’ve also given the world Ant and Dec, Jimmy Nail, Sting and Cheryl Kerl. Sorry.
  • The first Geordie came about when a Scotsman shagged a sheep. At least that’s what a (Scottish) festival-goer told me once.

[EDIT: For a great rant about why we love to hate Geordie Shore, check out Charlie Brooker's Guardian column]

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