Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Another Article

Only this time it's a bit more accurate: a New York Times piece on clubhopping in Berlin, with the emphasis correctly on Friedrichshain, which is where the young, poor, and bohemian fled when the folks from Bonn started buying and modernizing apartment buildings in Prenzlauer Berg, whence they'd fled after Mitte got unaffordable for much the same reason. I did a bar-crawl down Simon-Dach-Str. about five years ago for the Time Out Berlin guidebook, and found it really nice, with a varied selection of bars, but it's really not too easy to get to from my house (or, rather, my house isn't that easy to get back to from there), so I haven't been back in a long time.

Given the extreme change the neighborhood takes as it heads down to the river and Ostbahnhof, it's easy to forget that that part, too, is Friedrichshain, since there's at least one four-star hotel there, but Maria, the club that started in a dumpy building (now demolished) on one side of Ostbahnhof, is there on the shore, right near the East Side Gallery, the long stretch of Wall with all the paintings on it. Simon-Dach-Str. is further in, and there it's much more apparent what the article says: you won't see the hard-core old Ossis mixing with the new, international crowd. That's potentially a recipe for conflict, in my experience, and it's a tricky one to work out: There's still a lot of resentment among some of these people, and they can't like it when they see miniskirted Japanese girls and black-clad art fiends drinking in some of the well art-directed clubs and bars in their old 'hood. In Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, the solution has largely been to push those people to the margins of the districts, which works for a while: they'll go, because they're ageing and unemployed. But most of their kids don't mix with the new crowd, either, and that's where the tinderbox is.

I'm getting too old to go clubbing, and, more important, so are most of my friends, who are the ones who used to drag me to these places -- not that I needed much dragging. I'm very happy to see the article mention that there are still illegal clubs happening in Friedrichshain, and come spring or summer, I might very well see if any of my friends knows where some of them are, since the air of improvisation that hangs around the best of them is one of the few cool things about this city.

Anyway, if you're contemplating a visit, it might not be the worst idea to print this one out and keep it in your Time Out Guide for reference. Even if you wait until the Berlinale, those addresses should still be good.

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