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Frankly ... Berlin
Party or funeral?

Black bathrobe
Sometimes it has to be the little black. | Photo (detail): Markus Gann © picture alliance

 Wear something black, we’re going clubbing! That’s how it’s done in Berlin, at least among fans of electronic music. And because Gerasimos is your man when it comes to a special night out, we are not off to Berghain, Berlin’s most famous club, but to a smaller club down by the canal – on a disused industrial site, naturally.

By Gerasimos Bekas

It’s half past one in the morning but you still have to queue to get in here. For some of those waiting it is not the first port of call tonight. In front of me are a few school kids who didn’t manage to get into Berghain. They advise me to check online who the DJ is today because I’m more likely to get in if the guys on the door realize that I’m not just here by chance.

When I get to the front of the queue after around ten minutes, the giant of a bouncer scrutinizes me and asks me why I’m here, so I immediately name one of the DJs. He nods, which I take to mean I’m in.

But then he puts his hand on my shoulder, bends down towards me, looks me deep in the eyes and asks: “Are you fine?”. “I’m not sure”, I answer truthfully. That confuses him. He gives the matter some brief consideration, but then waves me through.

I don’t need a phone and I don’t have any drugs

In the cloakroom I’m approached by a young Englishman who introduces himself as Tom. He offers to swap me his new iPhone for some drugs. I don’t need a phone and I don’t have any drugs, so there is no deal to be struck. I ask him why he picked me of all people. He replies that I look fit and interested. I am not sure what that means, but feel flattered for now. He is fidgeting and his eyeballs are almost popping out of his head – I guess he has taken enough already. Then he gestures to me that it doesn’t matter, and confides that he has come to Berlin for the weekend to do some “serious partying”, and that an hour ago he and two strangers had “snorted” something in a toilet cubicle but that it hadn’t had any effect. Somehow I’d imagined the whole business of taking drugs to be more romantic. And hygienic.

There’s no chance of having any sort of chat here

Off to the dancefloor. Everyone is jigging around to loud noise. I do the same. The lights are flickering. Many people are dancing with their eyes shut, but I look around. It’s true, almost everyone is dressed in black. People are in very different moods – some have abandoned themselves to the music, while others are there with friends and seem to be celebrating something. There’s no chance of having any sort of chat here, so I go to the bar. The girl behind the bar confuses me with someone she knows and puts his favourite drink in front of me: Club-Mate with vodka. Although my deception is revealed, I’m allowed to keep the drink and get caught up in a conversation about open relationships that she is just having with another female customer. “It’s too complicated for me”, I reply, just so as to say something. But you don’t need a doctorate in philosophy to be understood at a bar, so the other two nod in agreement: “Yes, absolutely!”   

“Frankly …”

On an alternating basis each week, our “Frankly ...” column series is written by Gerasimos Bekas, Maximilian Buddenbohm, Qin Liwen and Dominic Otiang’a. In “Frankly ... Berlin”, Gerasimos Bekas throws himself into the hustle and bustle of the big city on our behalf, reports on life in Berlin and gathers together some everyday observations: on the underground, in the supermarket Frankly … Berlin, in a nightclub.