Frollein Langner

Frollein Langner
11.02.14

Blame it on the booze, or the sublime setting–the candlelight glinting off of the teeth and pupils of the patrons as they weave amongst themselves, and the small fleeting brushes of skin on the velvet furniture. It is true, the overall effect of Frollein Langner is intoxicating…although not entirely unique.

It is a winning combination–eclectic bar decor set against rugged bare brick walls with dim lighting serving as a backdrop for acoustic concerts, art exhibitions, and other hipster offerings–a very common sight on the cobbled backstreets of Neukölln.
However, while Frollein Langner does match most of the criteria for the typical Neukölln hipster bar; this buzzing nightlife spot in Schillerkiez stands apart (both geographically and metaphorically) from the endless candlelit watering holes lining Weserstrasse. Why? This environment that we find so mesmerizing at Frollein Langner is not contrived as so many others, but rather inherent–stemming from the bars origin itself.

Opened by a group of three Berlin students as a way to put themselves through college and furnished by a happenstance donation from a dead woman of no relation; Frollein Langner is a place which has flourished by a stroke of luck.

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“We never started with the intention of being ‘trendy’” said Steffen, one of the three founders of Frollein Langner, “It started as a hobby; none of us had any business experience and we didn’t have much money starting out so we used whatever we could find or what was given to us, much of it by chance.”

When first walking in to the bar, visitors are instantly drawn in by the decor; in fact, it is so harmonious that one finds it hard to believe the interior design was not contrived. The elegant but understated Weimar and early DDR furnishings fit together seamlessly with oddball pieces like a cushioned Victorian bathtub and a large dresser full of mismatched colorful drawers which serves as a DJ stand–an unwanted leftover of a movie set which randomly found its way into the bar.

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However, unlike other similarly decorated venues like Luzia and Das Hotel, which have a tendency toward producing secluded “couple corners,” the open floor plan of Frollein Langner allows for more social interaction. “You can always come here on your own,  still have fun, and meet people,” Steffen said. I asked if anyone had ever passed out drunk in the bathtub. “Well this one time my friend…no I shouldn’t tell you that,” he laughed and smiled sheepishly into his peppermint tea, “but every item has a story behind it.”

Indeed, from a framed 50-year-old newspaper with the headline “Fight over wrong type of beer ends in murder” to a giant wooden entryway which was once the archway of a since-burned-down church–every object is undoubtedly unique. However, the most interesting story lies with the late “Frollein Langner” herself. Her photo hangs in a place of honor behind the bar–the sepia-toned image showing the woman in turn-of-the-century riding clothes wearing a grim expression. She is the unlikely benefactor of the bar; the majority of the interior was given via third party to the three students (Till, Ben, and Steffen) from her surviving family simply because the moving cost of the furniture proved to be more than it’s worth.

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“We don’t know anything about her, but we owe her a great deal,” Steffen explained. “That’s why we chose her image as our logo–and also because we were intrigued by her face–she is not only friendly, in fact, she looks quite mean.”

Whatever the case may be, if Siegfried Olga Langner could see what her unwilling donation had created, who could guess the priceless reaction. The bar which began as a side project run solely by the three friends has grown into a full-scale operation complete with a large main bar area and several lounges (which also serve as an art gallery and occasional performance space) and an adjacent burger joint named after the German predecessor of the hamburger, “Rundstück Warm.”

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Later over one of the kitchen’s rundstück sandwiches (a tasty helping of sliced pork covered in a plum gravy) and a couple of the bar’s signature Moscow Mules (they zing it up a bit using ginger beer and crushed cucumber) I asked Steffen again about the mysterious Frollein Langner. “So is she a metaphor for the bar itself? Is it not really friendly either?” I jested. He smiled and shook his head no but referred me to a quote by Anneliese Bödecker written above the bar:

“Die Berliner sind unfreundlich und rücksichtslos, ruppig und rechthaberisch, Berlin ist abstoβend, laut, dreckig und grau. Baustellen und verstopfte Straβen wo man geht und steht – aber mir tun alle Menschen leid, die hier nicht leben können!”

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Later over one of the kitchen’s rundstück sandwiches (a tasty helping of sliced pork covered in a plum gravy) and a couple of the bar’s signature Moscow Mules (they zing it up a bit using ginger beer and crushed cucumber) I asked Steffen again about the mysterious Frollein Langner. “So is she a metaphor for the bar itself? Is it not really friendly either?” I jested. He smiled and shook his head no but referred me to a quote by Anneliese Bödecker written above the bar:

“Die Berliner sind unfreundlich und rücksichtslos, ruppig und rechthaberisch, Berlin ist abstoβend, laut, dreckig und grau. Baustellen und verstopfte Straβen wo man geht und steht – aber mir tun alle Menschen leid, die hier nicht leben können!”

{translated}

“The Berliners are unfriendly and inconsiderate, gruff and bossy, Berlin is repugnant, loud, dirty and gray. The streets where one lives and works are always under construction and congested but I feel sorry for everyone who never has the chance to live here!”

Article by Kirsten Hall

Links:

http://www.frollein-langner.de

https://www.facebook.com/FrolleinLangner

https://www.facebook.com/RundstueckWarm

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rundstück_warm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_mule

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_quotes_featuring_Berlin

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