I did it. As of writing this I am sunk deep into the leather couch on-board a crashed space ship under Berlin. The room is dark and lit faintly by the glow of all the blinking buttons and status lights. The ceiling is covered in wires, tubes, dials, electronics, and metal. It’s as if I’ve stepped into a 1980’s sci-fi movie. While walking the halls I half expect to see Sigourney Weaver. There is a stasis chamber in one of the halls. In the light you can make out the figure of some grotesque creature resting within. When you first enter, you must place your palm on a screen that scans your biometrics. All the while the entrance tunnel glows different colors. Descending into the ship you see the ancient data core bathed in a green light. It’s one of the stations most prized relics, a piece recovered from an actual fallen space station some years ago. The metal is burned from it’s re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. All around the space station there are posters, some faded, for browsers, programing languages, technology groups, human rights campaigns, video games, you name it. The rooms all have different functions. Some communal, some construction, some a bit of both. Here people come together to work on projects, test ideas, and discover new things together. There are computers everywhere. To the right of me there is a bearded man sitting in front of a collection of screens all linked together to form one giant wrap around window. He’s commanding some tank in an online game. To my left a group of people are working on what appears to be a space station simulator program. There are others reading news while listening to music, and others who’s multiple screens are covered in long streams of code. Every so often you will hear some computer’s voice broadcast over the loud speaker system in the ship. Other times you’ll hear the sounds of air locks or other mechanical and digital sounds of a space ship operating. The ambiance here is amazing. When I first arrived I was greeted by a Mr. C as I will call him. Everyone here has an alias by which they’re known. I introduced myself as an alien and showed him my membership papers. He took me into the station, scanned my hand, and the computer said I was an android of some type. He smiled, took my papers, and gave me a tour of the ship. Mr. C focuses his time on the robotics lab. There is some pretty advance work being done here. Some of the graduate students from the local technical universities come here to do work. There are even lasers, one powerful enough to light cigarettes. I’ve also just met a Mr. K who seems passionate about words and language. He spent half an hour with me talking about German and the intricacies of the language. He’s also given me some resources to practice with.The place is out of this world to say the least. I wish I had pictures to show, but they don’t allow photos inside the ship. Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever they warn, which is true.
Earlier this month was also a lot of fun. Two weeks ago I decided to meet up with a new friend from the internet and go to an improv comedy night. The improv group had two guest actors from the US and the show was in English. My new friend’s sister was also one of the performers. I had never been to an improv show, so I had no idea what to expect. My only previous knowledge of improv had been the TV show “Who’s line is it anyways?”. I found my new friend at the train station and we walked to the theatre in a revitalized old industrial building. We got beers, found our seats and the show began. There were several members in the troop and a couple of them asked for suggestions for scenes from the audience. There was a really great vibe and the performers were able to play off one another very well. Something was strange though…the whole time I was sitting there, I kept thinking one of the guest performers sounded really familiar. I could swear that I heard her voice a hundred times before, but from where? I looked at the playbill to get her name… “Amber Nash.” That looked familiar as well. Where had I seen it? I did a quick google search on my phone. HOLY SHIT! It’s the voice of Pam on the show Archer!
The next weekend I met up with yet another new friend, but this time to go to an ambient psy/chillout bar. If you have no idea what kind of music that might be, take a listen to some of this:
The bar we went to was called NOMAD. When you enter you are asked to remove your shoes. There are house slippers if you want. Pillows are strewn around the floor among islands of small tables for your drinks. A projector illuminates one of the walls with psychedelic visuals, sometimes over lapped with scrolling programming code. The centerpiece of the bar is the ceiling. A long stream of translucent fibres protrude from the center, like the pathways that carry neurons in your brain. The lights gently pulsate and the ends of the fibres twinkle like stars. It’s amazing to just lie back and observe.
We stayed at the the bar for several hours discussing everything from culture, to politics, to life in Berlin, and especially music. My new friend knew a lot of really great trance/ambient/psy music scenes in Berlin. She invited me to come with her to a party the following night at a club called KitKat. I said sure, having no idea what the club was like. We agreed to meet at 10pm, an hour before the party started. Over a thousand people said they were going on facebook so we wanted to get there a little early.
The next day I decided to stop by a “Cat Cafe” I heard about. Apparently cat cafe’s where big in Japan. The idea was that you would have a cafe and there were cats everywhere that you could watch and play with. (How they pass health standards, I have no idea.) There was a cat cafe in Berlin and I decided to go check it out. When I got there, however, there were only two cats! Only two! I was expecting a whole heard. The cats were nice enough. I ordered a coffee and watched them. I tried to pet them, but they didn’t seem too overly interested. I’ve really been animal crazy since coming to Berlin. My parents have two dogs at home and I miss cuddling them.
Later that night I met up with my music friend to go to KitKat, but first we walked around town and got some food while she pointed out all these famous bars and cool cultural things that I would have not otherwise known. We stopped at a late night shop and she bought us some club-mates (pronounced club- ma-ta-s, fyi) and a small bottle of vodka. She showed me how people often mix the two to give the drink a little more kick. We made our way through the crowded shops and bars and crowded streets that were slick with rain from the storm earlier that evening. When we got to the door around 11pm, I stepped inside and was surprised to see that the woman at the coat checking counter was wearing only fishnets. Everything was visible and exposed and nobody seemed to care. When they said “Dress Code Optional” on the facebook page, they meant it. The club had many different rooms with different styles of music playing. The unifying theme was that the music was a flavor of trance music. I was also taken by surprised by the host of extremely explicit sexual drawings on the walls. There were even full sized beds in various rooms and free condoms at the bar. I could only imagine how this place would be perceived back in South Carolina. I think it would be burned to the ground for being a palace of sin. Here, people didn’t care. They were here to have fun. The place had a very sensual and tribal feel to it. The heat, the drum beats, the sea of half naked bodies bathed in light and swaying; it was a lot to absorb, but you couldn’t help but feel excited and happy just to be there. (The following photos were taken by Ingo Lamm and posted up on the club’s facebook page)
There was a pool in one of the rooms to the side of the club. When you got tired of dancing you could grab a drink and go lounge by the indoor pool away from the louder music. Here the music was more chillout and you could easily here your friends chatting. At one point, a couple of people got naked and went skinny dipping in the pool, much to the cheers of everyone around it.
I’m actually in this photo below. I am behind and immediately to the lower left of the half naked guy standing up in the foreground. To his right is my friend, the one with the psychedelic owl painted on the back of her shirt.
We danced at the club from 11pm until 5am the next day. You’re really not aware of how quickly time goes by in there. Periodically she and I would stop and rest in one of the rooms to the side of the club, or on some of the pillows next to the dance floor, that way we could still absorb the energy from the room, but while recharging.I decided I need to come up with better clubbing clothes. The pants I wore were thick and hot, and my phone felt like it was melting onto my leg. Boots were also perhaps a bad choice of shoe to wear as they were heavy. I came up with a mental list of things I need to get before I go again. When I got home around 6am, I quickly took a shower and then collapsed into my bed and slept. When I awoke sometime around noon. I decided to take the day easy and stay indoors for the most part, until I heard of a large flee market at Mauerpark. It looked really interesting and so I decided to get up and go, even though by this time it was already 4pm. I wish I had gone earlier. (But there’s always next week) When you exit the train station, you walk out onto the site of a famous photo of an East German guard abandoning his post and making a run for the West. The photo is printed up on the side of the building where it happened to mark the spot.
The Flea Market itself is rows upon rows of eclectic shops. You can find all sorts of things here. There are also plenty of local artists that come to sell their creations. There are clothes, antique cameras, surplus military gear, paintings, a plethora of household objects, and foods of all types.
Outside of the flea market I could hear a crowd singing. I walked over to see what was going on. It turns out there was a massive karaoke party going on. People were all singing along to old pop songs and dancing in a circle in the center while onlookers cheered them on.
Another good weekend in Berlin. Summer will be coming soon. Everyone I talk to says Berlin is the place to be in summer. The numerous parks, great temperatures, and cheep beer; I can’t wait.