Depending on where you live, Berlin has a varied reputation. I have heard friends from New York say how Berlin is too small and quiet. I have heard Iggy Pop say it was cooler in the past, and have even lost a plethora of friends who have tried living here only to migrate off to futures brighter and less poor in other areas of the globe but even after all that it still remains my personal favourite place.
Even though the political ideas grind up against each other like tectonic plates and the many ghettoes regularly flare up in outright warfare, the sense of tolerance and personal freedom is greater here than in any place I have ever lived (apart from possibly Cap D’Agde) and it is that which was my initial motivation to move and that which fuels my wish to stay.
Let me give you an example. It may be just where I grew up but the only risqué parties I have been invited to in the UK have been private ones, not that they don’t happen, just that such things tend to remain behind closed doors. The thing about living in a society where sexuality is often frowned upon means people tend not to be open about it for fear of being ‘cast out’. On the other hand, just last week I attended my first ‘bondage suspension’ show, not in some seedy hidden warehouse in the edge of town but rather in a regular walk-in off the street bar five doors down from the nearest Burger King and opposite the O2 shop. It wasn’t at the crack of 2am, it kicked off at a sociable 8pm and had a more refined atmosphere than anything involving occasional screams and a little bit of blood deserves to be.
I didn’t mention, this wasn’t your regular suspension bondage like what you regularly don’t see on TV, this was the kind involving hooks in peoples flesh and chains like one may see in an abattoir or possibly a few scenes from Hellraiser. Fakirs and Mystics have been playing with beds of nails ever since people realised pain causes the release of Endorphins and naturally humans have diversified on that theme over time in so many ways that one needs a check-list to see them all.
Wherever your favourite place is, drop by Berlin sometime. It is a great place to hang.