On an unusually bright winter day in Berlin, small bunches of purple crocuses slowly but surely bloom across the garden of EDEN Studios. Spring is coming to the city, and there is something changing in the air. Besides the obvious changes in weather patterns and daylight savings (yes, it is observed here in Germany), Berlin begins to change as a whole. In this post, I want to talk about what Berlin has to offer outside the work at Arthaus. While this is a deviation from what I normally talk about, I think it is important to understand that a major part of the experience of this MFA program is meeting the city we get to study in. Berlin is full of many experiences to explore, but the ones I want to dive into can be identified in specific social settings: performances, walking as exploration, and the club scene.
First on this list is the grand scale and scope of performances available in Berlin. At its heart, Berlin is a city for artists where any and all are welcome, and the range of these artists’ work is huge. Berlin performances include, but are not limited to, small poetry readings in bars, short film screenings in apartments, drag king shows in basements, light installations at clubs, karaoke at Mauerpark, the Blue Man Group, the Pigeon Ambassadors, the Berliner Ensemble, and the Staatsballett. While this is only a slice of what is available around the city, now that spring is coming, more performances are starting to appear in outdoor spaces, like beer gardens, outdoor stages, and parks.
Moving on to the next point, Berlin is a very easy city to get around and explore on solo. Whether on foot, a bike, or the public transportation system, one gets to see and really encounter the residences, culture, and history of the city. One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is taking one of the public transportation options to an area that I do not recognize, and then walking around the area for an hour. In my weekly ritual, I have met the people and the city on a deeper level, and some of my favorite examples of Berlin architecture, monuments, and outdoor galleries were discovered on these randomized walking explorations. I really cannot recommend it enough.
The last point I want to talk about is the Berlin Club Scene. The club culture of Berlin is that I can describe as simply a shock. When I initially started going out to experience the night life here, I was shocked to find out the number of clubs around the city, the lines down the block to get in, the sense of community inside the club, how late the clubs closed, and the sound systems that pump deep-bodied techno all night. The clubs here are really exciting spaces to be in, and there is always a club or a party for everyone. Some of my favorite spots to go to are SchwuZ in Neukölln, Berghain in Friedrichshain, and Humboldthain in Wedding. For those interested more in the club culture here, all I can say is you need to be here to experience it. It is truly special, and nothing like what I have seen in the US.
During this transition period into the warmer months, Berlin is beginning to open back up. In this bloom, social spaces and outdoor activities are starting to become more widely available, like they were when I initially arrived six months ago. It really is a beautiful sight to see more people on bikes, the parks filling up with picnic goers and afternoon strollers, and the outdoor dining spaces being fully occupied. I hope to explore more as the warm days become regular, and I hope to share them with you soon. With all the love from Berlin! – G