Thursday, August 29, 2013

Berlin: Lionesses, Twinks & Bears - Oh my!

Plenty of Germans wanted to see Obama...
Whatever gay scene you're looking for, you can find it - in the best ways - in Berlin. Everyone is here, from leather daddies to the baby gays. The city might be a "poor" university town, but the seat of the German government has a lot more to offer than bureaucrats & their patrons (unlike a place I know well, DC!). Hopefully with the healthy tourist industry and loads of creative young people, the city will continue to amaze.

However, this is the view most of us had!
Since the end of World War II, the city has served as a symbol for the success of capitalism and democracy - and the new center of Europe, which is why Obama visited... and also mentioned the gays!

Now the Eastern parts of the city are the most interesting - as smart entrepenures have turned old buildings into hip avant-garde party and restaurant venues - its the perfect city for Fete de la Musique (which coincided with Pride) held here since 1995, free music of all genres is played in open air venues city-wide. Venues like those at RAW near the new "up-and-coming" area (still rough, but becoming "trendy") is Neukölln. It still has a long way to go - and it's mostly an immigrant area - so no holding hands boys (Germans rarely do this anyway...)!

While I stayed in the West part - basically the Chelsea of Berlin - it's still uber gay, at least in its shops & venues. I relived darkroom memories at Tom's Bar - always a good spot for just a drink (who knows what will happen!) and hung out with new friends at Heile Welt - but the gay bars are endless. Pride is not the best time to experience true Berlin - and by the way, they don't call it pride, it's "CSD" Christopher Street Day - commemorating the NYC protests - I guess Germans just like their efficient acronyms? In any event, too many special parties and tourists in town alter the experience, but of course there's lots to do, for the best resource use the local site, Sieguessaeule and the CSD main site.

Just one group - Rugby Gays in the Parade.
I was hoping for a football - but I threw it like
one, and hit several people in the head!
The first Sunday of Pride week, Berlin holds a City Festival surrounding the older gay area, Schoneberg, along the streets that extend from Nollendorfplatz. In case you need a G-rated link to share with your parents, to explain why you attend next year, check out the site, which explains this event in detail. I'll give you a bigger picture of what Pride & Berlin is about - and this big festival with exhibitions and performances is "just the tip."

On the Gay Brandenburg Float
I make some new friends!
As with most Prides a week of special nights - that also align with the weekly party schedule - lie between the kick-off festival and the parade.  Every Monday of the summer there is the Metaxa Bay Beach Party. However, the weather this year surrounding Pride wasn't too beachy - just check out the pics.

For those who don't like clothing, inside is better; attend Lab.Oratory which has a variety of fetish and just-plain-vanilla sex parties - check for your day of the week. Thursday is Chantal's House of Shame at Bassy Club; Chantal brings a good mix of every type of guy.  Kick-off the weekend at SchwuZ or really any night of the week, just check to find out about the music & the crowd.

Parade ends at the Brandenburg Gate, where performances
and speeches (including on by the Mayor) officially close
Berlin CSD.
(They also hold bungee-jumping!)
I attended Propaganda at Goya (they held gay nights all weekend for Pride) - and you can't beat watching sunrise from the roof at GMF's all night dance party - Saturday & Sunday nights for Pride! I still didn't make it to the uber-hyped party den, Berghain - but with 4 cities and 4 Prides to cover in one month, I decided against an elctro-pop, drugged-out party to come down from. Over the weekend, I made some great new friends, enjoyed "Truth or Dare" while hanging out with new gays in the Tiergarten - though I didn't get naked like Adam did (next time!).  I happily wandered the city with one of those young guys who's going to help Berlin realize its full potential in the future.

Topping off the long week of events - if you keep hydrated - is the most feel-good parade I've ever participated in.  Millions of gays - and yes straight guys & girls too - party in the streets, watch floats of dancing boys (like me), and smile & smile.  This year there were many floats devoted against Putin & the anti-gay law signed into law - its difficult to believe just hundreds of miles away such a parade would be outlawed and just one country away in Poland requires the strictest security. Here in Berlin, the people bring tons of energy to the event and it ends at the Brandenburg Gate. The floats may not be fancy - but the atmosphere is unbeatable.

Germans may not be the cuddliest group on the planet - yet they will be loyal friends and helpful guides, if they aren't afraid to speak English. Visit Berlin, enjoy the sights, relive its tumultuous history and learn a little Deutsch.

Berlin, in summary.

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