On the road in Berlin
Tole is kicking back in Berlin, fully clothed
No doubt you were left on the edge of your seat from the last installment of what older people like to call my “touring” experience. That particular word mostly made me feel like I should be on a package cruise with my aunt. Which I’m sure would be lovely. But, still. There’d be none of this on a “tour” like that.
Having left the amazing east without dipping a toe into its gay waters, I crossed into the west and found myself in Berlin. Yes, Berlin. Despite any use of an exclamation mark here, I think it is definitely one of the most exciting cities in Europe. Here, in the place where literally anything and everything goes, I was determined to have a really gay old time of it, and so I did. Although in a very Irish way.
Sex, bondage and a Canadian
My friends had warned me to bring home tales of underwear parties, rampant sex and bondage sessions that lasted for days on end and left you on the brink of self-destruction only to be rehabilitated in some 24 hour techo party in an underground warehouse. I was all set, sort of, for doing so, but fate conspired against me.
Having had my quota of snore-filled hostels, I opted instead to go a bit mad and try get an actual full night’s sleep. Using a most reputable website, I found a room to rent for a few nights. Having arrived to find my host very quiet, a tad odd and with no lock on the bathroom or indeed my bedroom door, I began to feel a bit worried. However in sizing him up, he was taller than me, but slightly skinner, and I reckoned that should it come to it, I could unleash some hidden inner rage and beat him down. On the upside, he was from Canada, a nation that rates very highly with me so I figured he couldn’t be all that bad. As a precaution though I did look up the German word for ‘help’, and went to sleep hoping I wouldn’t be woken by anything untoward. Having survived my first night without any hint of attempted murder, I came to the conclusion he was a decent enough fella, even if he did completely lack any social or locksmithing skills.
There’s a lot going on in Berlin. So much so that there was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t fully figure out what it was I should be doing to make the most of the nightlife. My requirements were quite simple though, just to hang out with some people, somewhere, doing something, fully clothed or not, and see what the craic was.
So off I set in search of some advice. In looking up things to do I had come across a website for English speakers living there. There were groups for everything on this site, parents with unruly children, Scrabble enthusiasts, people that pretended to knit and of course, the ladies. I hit up the latter group to get some advice on where to go. They were most helpful, very friendly and even invited me along to join them for some drinks later on in the week.
One of the girls on this website in particular was very welcoming towards me. We messaged for a bit and as it turned out, she lived in the area I was hoping to not be murdered in. So we went for a drink together in the local gay bar, handy.
She seemed really nice in the messages and so I automatically began to think that I would obviously get on too well with this person that I was now having a deep virtual connection with. Wandering around the Bundestag one afternoon, (hoping to bump into Angela and Enda having an inappropriate moment and make my millions), I started to think how I would probably have to order for my winter clothes be shipped in so that I could embark on a whirlwind romance complete with thermals. This was not to be however, we didn’t really hit it off at all. She wasn’t the best of craic and I got the distinct feeling she had spent too many years being angry, wearing a lot of leather and from what I could infer, being unnecessarily harsh to a younger sibling. She did however give me advice on where to go that night, so our drink wasn’t entirely unproductive.
Like some other places I’ve been to, a lot of the women’s events in Berlin are monthly-only features. There are things happening mid-week and at the weekends, but apparently the monthly stuff is the biggest draw, or so my source informed me. As such, I couldn’t really find parties involving nakedness or any other type of semi-clad activity for the particular time frame I was there. I settled for just having a regular night out (secretly delighted), knowing that in time, my friends would get over it. Fortunately, the evening of our drink coincided with one of the monthly events that was happening, L-Tunes (how apt) and so this was what my new, (yet not to be for life) friend gave me directions to. We both then took our leave of each and cut our losses, which were minimal.
So many womens
I was terribly excited at this stage, being not only in a Berlin club, but also finally surrounded by women, lots of them, everywhere. I had also, within my first two minutes of walking in the door managed to secure a new buddy. She of course apologised for her ‘terrible English’ which she hadn’t spoken in 3 years, while then spending the rest of the night speaking to me with the fluency of a bard. I, on the other hand, unreservedly blamed the Irish education system for my inability to speak any German. We got on quite well, she was mad for dancing which suited me brilliantly, and was also fairly sound.
I was very impressed by the whole thing. The music was good, with two different rooms to go between for pop, rock, indie and other types of music that I’m not sure about the classification of. We hit both rooms quite hard, my new found friend and I. There was also a great mix of people there from all walks of life, representing every type of fashion sense imaginable and a nice mix of various nationalities too. A Russian even gave out to me at some stage, about what, I have no idea. But that’s the Soviets for you I suppose.
And so leaving at about 5 in the morning while everything still was in full swing, I made my way back to my Canadian, (who I hadn’t seen leave the apartment or eat anything in four days). I was delighted to have had a great night out compete with crazy dancing, lesbian interaction and having done the country proud by knocking “fun times with a mainland European” off my list.
In all, Berlin is deadly and regardless of what your friends tell you, you do not need to take your clothes off to have a good time, (but you may enjoy it even more if you did though). Also it’s massive, having a population of 3.5 million. I don’t know how many of them are allies, but with this number, it’s only natural that a lot are. What this really means is that there is an epic amount of very hot people for you to glance awkwardly at and at some stage perhaps make your acquaintance with.
Something else that I now also think might be true; there will always be, especially at large gatherings/nightclubs type places, a lesbian wandering around unaccompanied, most probably looking for a friend/dancing/drinking/pool buddy. You could be that friend, with a warm and open smile, like a Carebear. People are more receptive to this than you might think.
Women are shy everywhere. But then you say “hi” to them and neither of you may be able to shut up. They are also fun and very beautiful. This is probably an international phemenonem, not just confined to Deutschland. We should all make the most of it.
Apart from nightlife, there are a number of daytime activities to check out. One is the Schwules Museum where you can find out about how you could have a good old gay laugh in Berlin in the 1920s, but not so much after Hitler came to power in 1933. Then there is the Memorial for Homosexual Nazi Victims which is also worth a visit. It shows a 2-3 minute film on loop featuring gay couples stealing glances at each other and kissing against a backdrop of disapproving straight people.
Seeing the sights
Both are quite refreshing on a sightseeing afternoon dominated by discovering where yet another building was bombed to its core.
There are also gay walking tours (which I only thought about after I had left). These would probably be a great way to find out all about gay Berlin and also save you relying on the not very sober ramblings of people you may meet on a night out on what to do and where to go.
There are also of course lots of sex shops where you can buy stuff and what not, gay cinemas to watch things in and cafés and restaurants to eat and drink in. Remarkable I hear you say. Indeed. Berlin has it all really. Great gays, interesting things to do and you may even find some nakedness, somewhere, sometime. Let me know.