Welcome to the Mecca of the Punks

Welcome to the Mecca of the Punks

West Berlin did not have a closing time. Among the travellers who populated the bars at night, were several world famous pop stars who lived here in the seventies of the previous century. David Bowie and Iggy Pop, for example, lived together for a while in an apartment in Schöneberg. Both recorded albums at the Hansa Studios, only a few hundred metres from the Wall. The title track of David Bowie’s album Heroes, which was released in 1979, is about a pair of lovers in the shadow of the Wall: “Though nothing/ Will keep us together/ We could steal time/ Just for one day/ We can be heroes/ For ever and ever.” The Sex Pistols had already sung about the Berlin Wall in their surreal song “Holidays in the Sun”. For the romantics of punk, Berlin was a counter-image of a grey civilisation which could only be defied by individual and idiosyncratic people. In Berlin, one could “steal time”, like Bowie said, and be a hero “for one day”.

One of the most beautiful pieces from Bowie’s Berlin phase is a homage to Warsaw. “Warszawa” is an impressive piece, as melancholic as it is beautiful. In it, a male voice can be heard singing a few lines in an imaginary language. The melody is evocative of medieval church music. In those days, Warsaw was an overnight train journey from Berlin. Eastern Europe had become a murky continent for people from the West. So, staying in West Berlin one at least believed oneself to be close to it. Berlin was a city that had fallen out of space and time - A no man’s land, an intersection.