Top 5 May

For Berlin, May is a month of partying, protesting and enjoyment of the sun that has finally brought some warmth to the city. But if you’re looking for events other than your famous May Day celebrations and Karneval der Kulturen, here are our alternative event tips for the month of May.

too drunk to watch

Too Drunk To Watch: Punk Film Festival (https://www.facebook.com/events/1498393833737499/)

 

From a feminist film festival to nation specific film festivals to even a porn film festival, plus everything in between, Berlin seemingly has a film festival for all tastes. Starting on May 6th and running until May 10th the Too Drunk To Watch: Punk Film Festival will be screening PUNK related films from around the world.

Tag des Sieges

Tag des Sieges (http://neuntermai.vvn-bda.de/2014/12/31/information-fur-unsere-besucherinnen-und-besucher/)

 

This coming May marks 70 years since the end of the European side of World War II. As we are in Germany, there are no official celebrations, for obvious reasons, but if you want to experience one of the stranger and messier parties celebrating the defeat of the Nazi’s, we recommend joining the Russians, punks, leftists and others at the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park this May 9th.

braufest

Braufest Berlin 2015 (https://www.facebook.com/events/295231683948498/)

 

Berlin’s craft beer scene has exploded in recent years, but it isn’t all about the new brands and bars, there are also new and wonderful beer festivals! One such festival is Braufest Berlin that will see local, German and international beers being poured between May 14th and 17th in the RAW area.

 

Displaced Thoughts by Herakut (http://www.herakut.de/2015/05/01/displaced-thoughts/)

 

This coming May 16th one of our favourite street art duos Herakut will open their new Berlin exhibition entitled Displaced Thoughts. The exhibition will include paintings, photographs and installations highlighting the work of individuals and organizations from across the Middle East, Europe and Africa., with a strong focus on issues associated with global movement.

The vinyl and breakfast market

The Vinyl and Breakfast Market (https://www.facebook.com/events/727786464013911/)

 

If Sunday to you means a good breakfast followed by a flea market visit to scrounge through piles of records, The Vinyl and Breakfast Market is making things easier for you by providing both in the same location. The breakfast side of things will be provided by many of the regular Markthalle Neun street food vendors and the vinyl side of this will be provided by some of Berlin’s most popular record stores and labels. Check it out on Sunday May 17th.

 

 

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Top 5 March

Posted by admin on Sunday Mar 15, 2015 Under clubs, eco, events, fashion, graffiti, Restaurants, Street Food, streetart

The sun has been shining bright in Berlin of late and thanks to this, our tours at Alternative Berlin have been very busy. If you have taken a tour with us, you would know that our guides are always full of great tips, but our Blog and Facebook Page are also both worth keeping an eye on. The following are our Top 5 event tips for March.

 

Berlin X Reykjavik Festival https://www.facebook.com/events/375013215957331/

 

For the second year running, the multi-city jazz fusion festival of Berlin X Reykjavik will see an exchange of artists between the aforementioned cities. From March 5th – 7th, Neue Heimat will host the Berlin segment of the festival, which sees a variety of talent from Reykjavik performing before a Berlin audience. The festival is headlined by the amazing Icelandic artist Emiliana Torrini.

Reyjan

 

Exhibtion: Houses by Vidam https://www.facebook.com/events/925041667528362/

 

This month, one of our favourite street artists Vidam, of the street art crews Peach Beach and The Weird, will display a new solo exhibition entitled ‘Houses’ at Retramp gallery. The exhibition will include illustrations of houses with mural paintings that are inspired by houses in the artists own neighbourhood. The exhibition will run from March 6 – April 10.

vidam

St. Patrick’s Day Festival https://www.facebook.com/events/1615236468708938/

 

As most of you are well aware, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations certainly are not limited to Ireland. Various cities and towns around the world throw massive parties with green sausages to green rivers being a thing at these parties. Since 2011, Berlin has had its very own St. Patrick’s Day festival inclusive of a parade and concert! If you want to get your green on, this years festival is taking place on March 15th, just a couple of days before the actual St. Patrick’s Day.

St Patricks

Max Rave: Westbam’s 50th Birthday Bash https://www.facebook.com/events/877646252267106/

 

Berlin techno legend Westbam will this month celebrate his 50th birthday, the only way a DJ knows how… with a massive techno party! Westbam himself headlines the party that will surely go to all hours of the morning. Check it out in Columbia Halle on March 14th.

Max Rave

Klunkerkranich Re-Opening https://www.facebook.com/klunkernderkranich

 

With the weather being surprisingly sunny and mild for this time of year, some of Berlin’s popular outdoor spaces have decided to open their doors a little earlier in the year than usual. One such venue is the very popular rooftop bar of Klunkerkranich. Take in the amazing view from the top level of the Neukoelln Arcaden carpark and listen to some tunes or stroll the regular weekend fleamarket at this amazing location.

Klunder
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Simply Google, “New Year’s Eve in Europe” and there is one name you will always find with each click, our very own Berlin. Even now the resounding bangs and booms of fireworks have begun, alluding to the insane party which is to come on Tuesday. But being at the top of every list of best party places isn’t always a good thing–as celebrations commence we can inevitably expect crowding in the Ubahns and long queues for all of the major clubs and events. So if you plan on going out but would rather not count yourself one of the million revelers packing in around Brandenburger Tor, grab a glass of sekt and check out our list of alternative and unusual ways to spend New Years in Berlin.

1. Get Sexy

Hey you already have to find somebody to smooch at midnight right? Why not take it a step further. The horror rock bar, The Last Cathedral will be hosting a sexy masquerade party featuring fire dancers & vampire Goth table dancers, plus a hot and cold buffet if you are feeling peckish. Or sit back and be entertained at Lilly’s Wonderland Bar in Köpenick, a burlesque club where “no eye stays dry and no shirt unbuttoned” at their annual New Year’s show. But if you really want to go all out, try for the annual Silvestergala at KitKat–the world-famous sex club will open up three dance floors to a great DJ line-up and will even feature living erotic artwork. Just be aware, only the finest fetish gear and costumes will make it past the infamous doorman.

2. Embrace Culture

It’s no secret that Berlin has a large ethnic community–particularly in areas like Neukölln and Kreuzberg which have a high population of immigrants–especially of Arabic and Turkish descent. These districts are also focal points of the NYE celebrations (although many actually sound more like a demilitarized zone when the clock strikes 12…be wary of falling bullets) Turkish culture has many great New Year’s traditions–from exchanging small gifts to even decorating Christmas trees (Santa Claus and other such things are more associated with NYE than Christmas). The famous Maybachufer Türkischer Markt will be open till 4pm where you can find everything you need to make your own celebration (traditional holiday treats include warm pide, börek, baklava, and various eggplant dishes). Or if you would rather leave the work to someone else, head to the Egyptian/Arabian restaurant club Marooush in Charlottenburg or Al Hamra in Prenzlauerberg. But for a more laid-back evening, try a night relaxing with friends around a water-pipe at one of Berlin’s many shisha lounges–information can be found at http://shishaberlin.de

3. Pretend it’s Summer

Sure we can all gripe and moan about how we’ve all been wearing coats since the end of September, but let’s face it…it might have started early but this has been an unseasonably warm winter. Take advantage of the above-freezing temps and bring your celebrations outdoors. There’s an outdoor rave and beach party (yes you heard right, beach party) at Weissensee complete with a fantastic fireworks show and views of the city. Or if you would rather go it alone, simply grab some friends, some cheap champagne, and a disposable grill and head to one of Berlin’s many cool abandoned spots (we suggest one with a rooftop view of the city) fire up some brats and simply sit back and enjoy the show. Just remember, if you are partying in an abandoned site please be respectful of history–in other words don’t be a cunt–skip the vandalizing and take your trash with you! For info and locations check out Abandoned Berlin.

4. Check out some  Local Jams

Skip the crowded Euro-pop concert at Brandenburger Tor and head to one of Berlin’s local joints to hear some of the city’s best unheard-of talent. Local Berlin artist Stephen Paul Taylor will be performing a special NYE concert at a local Kreuzberg tea bar, T Berlin which will be followed by a DJ line up well into the wee morning hours. For some more exotic tunes, check out the reggae and soca line up at the caribbean beach bar and community center YAAM which will be holding a big celebration including multiple dance floors and a bonfire on the beach. Also hosting concerts on New Year’s are the local music hall, Lido and Bade Haus. Check websites for complete details.

Article by Kirsten Hall

Links:

http://www.kitkatclub.org/Home/Club/Index.html
http://www.lastcathedral.com
http://www.lillys-wonderland-bar.de
http://www.tuerkenmarkt.de
http://www.alhamra.de
http://www.marooush.de
http://www.binbaden.com
http://www.abandonedberlin.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/556366401114324/
https://www.facebook.com/events/250165021805771/?source=1
https://www.facebook.com/events/1487227808169083/
https://www.facebook.com/events/705104866166611/

#newyear #newyearseveberlin2014 #thingstodoinberlin #Berlintopevent #Altberlintours #berlin #Berlinnightout #SilvesterBerlin #BerlinSilvester #Berlinnightout #Silvesterpartys #Alternativenewyear #Silvester2014 #LiveinBerlin #Gigsberlin

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Burgers and Hip Hop

Posted by admin on Saturday Oct 12, 2013 Under art, Berlin, clubs, events, Hip Hop, Restaurants

Two popular things in western society which seem to be both lacking in quality and quantity in Berlin have got to be hamburgers and hip hop music. In the land where minimal techno and döner kebabs reign supreme, the search for some decent gangsta beats and a nice piece of meat and some buns (dirty pun not intended) is a true mission. So when I heard about an event combining the two, Burgers & Hiphop, I knew I had to check it out.

Arriving I felt like I had walked into the American ex-pat version of heaven. Food stalls with every kind of meat-heavy street food lined the walls of the dance hall at Prince Charles; the scent of sizzling bacon and the sound of Biggie Smalls filling the room. We arrived around 7pm and the vibe was still teetering somewhere between a Markthalle IX event with pram-laden couples sampling the cuisine and a 20-something Astra-drinking dance party.

The set-up was actually quite ingenious–effortlessly combining a food hall and club space without a greasy, messy overlap by keeping the food predominately in the main hall but also providing seating by the DJ booth and main bar which was removed to make more dance floor space as the night wore on.

The term “burgers” seemed to be used a bit loosely as far as the food goes because the vendors ranged anywhere from ethnic street eats like Bao Kitchen to southern BBQ and American favorites like Mogg & Melzer’s mouth-watering ruben sandwiches. Puzzling though as the selection may be, there certainly were no complaints from anyone (myself included).

The favorite undoubtedly was the Kimchi Princess booth, their menu of Korean mince-meat burgers drawing a queue across the room. We decided to go for the “Notorious BLG” (Bulgogi-Kimchi-Burger) and thankfully scored the last piece of meat leaving those standing in line behind us to groan in protest. And wow were we thankful that we did!–it was truly a remarkable sandwich. Sweet melt-in-your-mouth meat topped with tangy kimchi and balanced out by fresh tomato and spikey arugula lettuce–in one word–perfection.

One by one, the food vendors started to sell out and pack up and the crowd began to trickle from the food hall to the large walk-around bar and dance area. My friend joked that this could be a perfect SNL skit of awkward white hipsters dancing, and it was true. Fedora-ed guys and cardigan-ed girls timidly began to open up and pretty soon no one cared that they couldn’t dance to this kind of music; dropping it low and rapping to NWA like they were “Straight Outta Compton.”

The music started on a high note with plenty of crowd-pleasers like Missy Elliot and Lil’ Wayne but began to go downhill with the second DJ set which was a bit too pop-heavy. It started with the typical soft-core old school raps like “Jump” and “I wish” by Skee-lo and from there it was a quick transition to a series of bad R&B and watered-down hip-hop like Ciara and J-lo which noticeably brought the energy level down. However, the vibe was relaxed and it was certainly a refreshing change–for the first time in a long time I found myself sweating on a dance floor because I was dancing my ass off and not just because I was stuffed like a sardine into a smokey techno hall. I went home with sore thighs, a full belly, and a grin on my face; overall great event guys, can’t wait for to see what’s next.

https://www.facebook.com/princecharlesbar

https://www.facebook.com/imbissrepublik

https://www.facebook.com/BaoKitchen

http://www.style.de/kalender/burgers-hiphop-party-im-prince-charles/

 

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The Crocodile eating junkies alive in Berlin

Posted by admin on Thursday Nov 15, 2012 Under Berlin, Uncategorized

It´s a well known fact that Berlin as a party capital and a free and liberal city is also firmly entrenched in the recreational drug scene. The daytime clubbing, 24 hour plus party rampages are not fuelled by energy drinks alone but unlike other cities, Berlin does not have as big a problem with the highly addictive heroin and crack or the destructive methampethamine epidemic that has such  a menacing presence in cities and country towns across the US and Canada. There is no denying there are more than a few heroin addicts in the German capital but in comparision to other major European cities the number is not so alarmingly high.

Meth has recently started to move out of the small towns in the east of Germany to the club scene in Berlin. The bulk of meth production coming from Czech republic labs and across the invisible EU borders in a similiar way to the manufacture and distribution from Mexico to the US. Like the infamous hit series Breaking Bad these Czech towns housing meth kitchens are the New Mexico´s of Europe. You can be certain though, there are probably more than a few wannabe Heisenberg´s much closer to home, in Berlin´s suburbs Reickendorf, Schönefeld and towns in the Brandenburg area, cooking up more than a batch or two of  the pure glass ice.

While meth is kinda new in Berlin, crack never really has had a market though heroin use on the other hand, has been prominent since the late 60´s and early 70´s. The cult film “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo put shock and fear into German citzens, bringing the smack epidemic out in the open for anyone who did not previously believe the rumours about Berlin´s seedy world of prostitution and drug abuse.

While the forementioned drugs are destructive and devastating to users, families and communities, none of them come close to the terrifying new designer drug  known as “Crocodile”, which has recently surfaced on Berlin´s streets. This drug existing in poor Russian towns for the last few years is 3 times more powerful than heroin and one fifth the price. The side effects of Desomorphine (Crocodile) are literally straight out of a horror movie. The crocodile lives inside a users body for the duration of the 1 year life expectancy of hardcore users before shutting down organs and rotting the flesh away to the bones, making addicts appear zombie like, not only in the mind but also in the physical sense. Track marks of addicts turn into festering wounds with gaping one centimeter holes. Their skin turns a ghoulish green-gray colour forming scales – hence where the crocodile name comes from. The drug eats away at the body, leading to tissue damage, organ failure and finally a painful death.

Why would users poison themselves to death or even try this deadly drug ?

The problem is that when users are starved of their usual heroin supply or are unable to pay for the drug due to massive street price hikes after busts etc, will seek an alternative fix and after just a few tastes they are locked in the crocodile´s jaws. They are chained to this runaway train for fear of an almightly comedown or the cold turkey from hell that is far worse than what heroin does. A heroin addicts withdrawal lasts for five to 10 days but with “krokodil”, it can last up to a month and the pain is unbearable. Some addicts have had to be injected with strong tranquilisers just to stop them from passing out from the pain.

Another sinister aspect to this is that drug dealers are seeking greater profits through this horrifying epidemic. In Russia they pass off the drug as heroin to unsuspecting users. The product can not be distinguished from heroin by the naked eye and production of the drug is simple and extremely cheap. It´s a sickening and disturbing reciepe. Codeine tablets bought over the counter from pharmacies is the key ingredient. The rest of the mix is made up of substances such as iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning oil, scraped match heads,heavy metals and even gasoline all thrown in.

Some users may or may not be aware of what they are taking but the horrific physical side effects and gray reptilian like appearances of fellow users, one would think would be enough to scare them senseless. Unfortuantely the drug is far more difficult for addicts to kick then heroin or meth.

As far as the glamour side of this drug, there is none. Junkies in Russia live in third world, shanty like squalor amidst crumbling asbestos laced ruins from the former Soviet union. Their dingy stinking apartments reeking of codeine from the hours spent cooking up their next hit. Their bodies and clothes carrying a disgusting odor that never leaves them. It is sheer hell for an addict and those who come into contact with them. Hospital workers at the Tiergarten charite in Berlin saw this firsthand when an Eastern European couple turned up in an absolutely apallying condition for treatment.

While the arrival of this drug in Germany and the capital city Berlin has authorities concerned. Reports of it´s use has not been at the epidemic level yet with only a few cases of people being hospitalized and needing treatment. Use of this drug is sporadic but a journalist friend of one of our guides has spoken to a few people recently who claim to be users. Hopefully we don´t see a Breaking Bad like sitcom or any Rock stars fanning the flame as this is one designer drug that aint hip or cool  in the slightest, not that any drug is.

 

 

 

 

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When people say that Berlin has an explosive underground, they aren’t just referring to its radical nightlife and its alternative scenes.  The city’s soil itself is liberally peppered with unexploded WWII explosives.  This is a city where everyday activities like digging a vegetable patch, building a house or even taking a boat ride could potentially bring you face-to-face with a grenade or bomb.  In other words, you don’t have to be radical to feel like you’re living life on the edge!

Unexploded bombs are just one part of Berlin’s legacy as an ex-Nazi stronghold that is still felt by its modern residents.  In the days leading up to Hitler’s downfall, more than 465,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped on Berlin and about one eighth of those bombs never exploded.  They lie rusting below the city’s calm fields and in its river banks like so many overripe seeds, ready to explode at a moment’s notice into a fiery bloom.

A year doesn’t go by in this city without at least a couple of these bombs putting in an cameo appearance, bobbing up from the bed of the river Spree or nestled in an old building foundation, like sinister time capsules.  Now that Tegel airport is due to be transformed into an alternative cultural and entertainment park, the unexploded bomb issue has resurfaced with a vengeance.  A few bombs were found at the airport, both during its construction and after its opening.  No doubt the demolition crews will have to tread lightly too, as will future visitors.  That should add a shot of adrenalin to the activities of artists and dissidents who end up using the space!

So it’s easy to understand why Berlin has such an edgy reputation: the entire city is walking on tenterhooks.  But don’t worry.  If you’re taking a tour with Alternative Berlin you can always take comfort from the fact that we’re  insured for bomb explosions!

 

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Friends With Benefits

Posted by admin on Thursday Apr 19, 2012 Under activism, Berlin, clubs, events, fashion, Uncategorized

The Köpi are reopening their techno cellar tomorrow for a night of swanky, gritty, noisy, ghetto elektro-punk.  As far a we can tell tomorrow’s Soliparty (benefit party) at the Köpi is a benefit for, well, benefit parties.  It seems that the antifascist, subcultural, non-commercial party collective Kontrollverlust was recently fined by the cops for holding an illegal benefit party.  Their solution?  To throw another benefit party so they can cover the cost of the fine, of course!  Now we just need to find out what the original benefit party was in aid of and we’ll be sorted.

The lineup features ‘shiny,hip-hop, death-f***’ artist Cat N’Guyen (pictured above) a ‘hardcorelafftraknintendocorepunkstuntpunkterrorKöln’ band called Lafftrack, DJ Emiliano Nenzo who plays ‘TechHouseMinimal’ and DJ KOMAndo Beretto, who plays ‘PonyRaveGeshredder’ .

Enjoy the weekend and be sure to watch this space for more views from Berlin’s party gutter courtesy of Alternative Berlin!

 

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Bedrohung, Zwangsversteigerung, Rettung, Evakuierung, Umzäunung, Protest, Hungerstreik, Stürmung, Auszug, Rückkehr – das Tacheles hat seit 1909 sicherlich viel erlebt doch in den letzten Monaten überschlagen sich die Meldungen und versucht man von den Künstlern im Haus zu erfahren wie es weiter geht bleibt unter´m Strich die Meinung: Nichts Genaues weiß man nicht aber wir bleiben hier und kämpfen.

Seit Beginn unserer alternativen Touren besuchen wir das Tacheles, unterschreiben Petitionen, gehen zu Demonstrationen und bangen um die Existenz des Gebäudes und der Ateliers, Shops und Werkstätten der Künstler. Nach Monaten der Sorge und Frage: Was passiert, wenn die Investoren gewinnen und das Kunsthaus stirbt haben wir letzte Woche gesehen wie die Zukunft aussehen könnte.

Laut Vereinsatzung ist der Zweck des Tacheles die Förderung von Kunst und Kultur und das Bestreben mit Veranstaltungen und Workshops zur Verständigung zwischen den Völkern beizutragen, die Gründungsidee: Freiräume für alternative Kunst und Kultur schaffen. Sie verschwinden zwar zunehmends doch sind immer noch hier: Freiräume für Kreativität, Subkultur und alles wofür wir Berlin so lieben und Pro Art Tacheles schickt seit Samstag die Skulpturen aus dem Tacheles auf Reise. Das Projekt M.A.P. Mobile Art Project startete im Plus Hostel Berlin.

Im Innenhof haben die Skulpturen endlich wieder einen Platz gefunden und auch eine Werkstatt für neue Kreationen sowie ein Ausstellungsraum sind entstanden. In ungewohnt zeitgenössischer Architektur zwischen Anzügen finden sich die Künstler, Punks und das übliche Publikum. Zuerst etwas merkwürdig dann aber sehr inspirierend und zukunftsweisend. Über die Ausstellung hinaus organisiert der Verein Art Pro Tacheles in den Räumen des Hotels wechselnde Exhibits und stellt Wohnräume und Ateliers für internationale Künstler zu Verfügung.

Die Vernissage war der Startschuss für Das Mobile Art Project (M.A.P.) und setzt sich als Ziel die Gründungs-Idee des Tacheles in Berlin zu verbreiten und Freiräume für Künstler, offene Ateliers für Besucher zu schaffen und Kurse und Workshops anzubieten.

 

Parallel zu der neuen Metallwerkstatt an der Warschauer Brücke ist in den vergangenen Wochen auch ein anderes neues Künstlerhaus in Kreuzberg entstanden, welches sich ebenso zum Ziel setzt kreativen Menschen bezahlbare Räume zur Verfügung zu stellen. In der alten Post in der Skalitzer öffnete das WYE zum ersten Mal seine Türen für Besucher des Vodoo Marktes und die 2 von 4 geöffneten Geschosse machen Hoffnung auf kulturellen Freiraum, tolle Events, offene Ateliers und Workshops.

Was die Hoffnung auf das Überleben des Tacheles seit April aufrecht erhält, auch wenn das Gebäude zu schwinden scheint ist Treptopolis

 

. Gegründet von Kemal Cantürk, der bereits 1990 bei der Besetzung des Tacheles anwesend war, bietet der alter Supermarkt in Treptow alles was das subkulturelle Herz begehrt: Kino, Theatherbühne, Metall Skulpturen und bald ein Cafe im Hof.

Die Gedanken sind frei und so ist die Kunst – Vielen Dank für die neuen Gebäude und Initiativen, wir haben wieder Hoffnung dass die Idee des kreativen Freiraums bestehen bleibt auch wenn die HSH die Oranienburger Straße verschlingt. Vielleicht kann Privatisierung und Zerstörung auch ein Neubeginn sein auch wenn der Kampf um den Erhalt des Tacheles bei allen an oberster Stelle steht.

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Bridging the Tourist Divide

Posted by admin on Friday Mar 30, 2012 Under activism, art, Berlin, clubs, Uncategorized

Two buildings face each other on the Spree: one is a shiny highrise, its mosaic of metallic colours gleaming on the roadside.  It is the new Mercedes Benz building that will be constructed by Caimmo.  Across the road from it sits a beach club with a colourful graffiti-style sign and gates flung wide open.  Inside a festive assembly of shacks serving food and drinks encloses an umbrella filled courtyard which opens onto a Spree-side beach.

Right: The proposed Mercedes building en-situ.  YAAM occupies a vacant lot next to East Side Gallery park.

Humble spaces like the YAAM club epitomize Berlin’s style and spirit.  They put the spotlight on the city’s people: groups of students making nervous forays into the bar, throngs of hip travellers whose nonchalance suppressed the thrill of discovery; the Afro-Caribbean men who work in its stalls; the laid back scenesters who make their second home here, exuding an aura of purposeful calm that is years beyond their real age.  By contrast the Mercedes Benz building, and other new, shiny attractions which resemble it, are mute.  Their strikingly modern and high-end designs may catch the eye but they can only hold it for a few seconds.  They are no match for the ever shifting tapestry of humanity in YAAM and grassroots hang-outs like it.

The new highrise theatres, hotels, and in some cases, hostels, going up all around Berlin repel casual visitors.  Their steely facade may add a bit of drama to the city skyline from a distance but close up, there is no reason to linger long.  No open doors, no benches or grass or trees to soften its fortress-like shapes.  They are slowly building another Berlin Wall around the Mitte, a Wall of impersonal modernity which closes its doors to the intimate, ramshackle, anything-goes local lifestyle.

Buildings like Caimmo appeal to a type of person who has never been found in Berlin before the sudden arrival of mainstream tourism.  They are an imported vision of what a successful city looks like, and they will only ever appeal to imported people like out of town entrepreneurs and tourists who are lured mainly by the city’s low prices.  This imported tourism format has created an invisible boundary between the visitor and the locality, from behind which one can indulge in voyeurism without truly interacting with the city.  New highrises with their fortress-like fronts may provide photo opportunities but they lack a visible human presence.  They are an artificial construct invented for visitors who are on a “Berlin-today, Prague-tomorrow” style travel  itinerary: people who think that they can simply take and leave the city according to their schedule’s needs.

Berlin’s people are less easily dismissed.  Step into a venue like YAAM and its living, human theatre will close around you and turn the spotlight on you, expecting you to react and interact.  Random, natural venues like these have no beginning or end, they don’t fit neatly into schedules and itineraries.  They don’t offer guarantees or consistent standards but they do offer a chance to live and breathe the local culture and learn from it.  Isn’t that what travel is supposed to be about?

Venues like YAAM put Berlin on the map because they put the city’s people first.  They offer a stage for the denizens’ creativity, their personalities and their relationships.  Only the players and the props need to be added. And as in a play,  it is the spirit and the imagination that goes into the performance that matters more than the building’s design.


Right: how long can this beautiful reggae subculture remain?

All of Berlin’s most famous clubs, bars and attractions have grown up organically from the city’s mesh of personal and political histories.  They have been shaped by the unique, personal  quirks of the people who they embody: the scenesters, the musicians and artists who spent enough time there leave impressions of themselves in paint, structure and sound.  Berlin’s biggest attraction therefore is its people and its venues are famous because of them.  What will become of the city once they are all displaced by the sort of tourists who prefer to view things from an uninvolved distance?

Simply put, big, impersonal tours go against the Berlin and other cities’ spirit.  They are no way for visitors to find out what the city is all about.  Alternative Berlin and its partners within the local travel movement offer a glimpe of what it’s like to actually be a local for a few hours, not just a glimpse of the locals themselves.  We and our guides feel that tours should enable a real exchange between visitors and the city so that they leave the city with a memory of what Berlin really is, instead of the censored memories that various agencies have decided to sell them.  We believe that that it is better to preserve the local authentic vibe by sharing it with visitors, than by enclosing it within a wall.


 

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In the very same week that Tacheles is threatened, a new art squat makes the  scene by hosting an exhibition of 28 independent artists.  The amount  of people willing to make the trek out to suburban Weisensee for an exhibition opening on a Thursday night probably speaks to the social skills of the artists  involved in Things Fall Apart but it also symbolized the void that  Tacheles’  virtual closure has left in Berlin’s non-commercial arts  scenes.

The facebook page for Things Fall Apart reads, “The artists of the show were inspired to breathe new life into these forgotten spaces and interpret what it means to fall apart.”   American ex-pat and Alternative Berlin guide Benjamin Spalding interpreted this theme through an altar room made up of discarded and found personal possesions.  The result was a darkly cool space lit with melted candles massed on every surface, their light reflecting off the high ceilings.  It was like stepping inside of a Christian-pagan chapel from a freer time in history.

Ben, left: “I always imagine myself hacking through a very deep, dark, purple  forest and coming across different signs and decoding them.”

Ben was one of four artists at the exhibition who moonlights as a tour guide for Alternative Berlin.  Or perhaps it would be better to say that they ‘daylight’ as guides for Alternative Berlin because lately their nights have been preoccupied with conceiving and developping this exhibition.  By day they’ve been giving tourists and travellers the inside scoop on Berlin’s underground scenes but by night, they have been hard at work creating portraits, politically surreal installations and scrap altars for this exhibition  You can see some of the results of their works below.

Below: Army tent installation by Penny Rafferty

The exhibition has been so popular that it will be kept open for another two weeks and visitors may well find themselves rubbing shoulders with Mayor Klaus Wowereit, since he’s expressed an interest in checking it out.

Before the advent of ECC Atelierhaus, the exhibition space, Weissensee was an overlooked neighbourhood but Things Fall Apart has helped to put it on the map for Berlin’s alternative arts scene.

Events like Things Fall Apart shouldn’t really be called exhibitions at all because actually, they are convergence points for the living, breathing community that is Berlin’s non-commercial arts scene.   To the outside observer, a gallery like Weisensee might seem to have sprung up out of nowhere.  Some might even be tempted to conclude that places like this are transient or built on hype – a cultural flash-in-the-pan.  In reality, the Berlin art scene’s ability to disassemble and then re-assemble itself anywhere at relatively short notice is a testament to its cohesiveness as a community. We at Alternative Berlin are proud that our own guides can be a part of that.

Right: Portrait by Alana Richards

 

 

 

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