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Boogey nights in Berlin

November 3rd, 2010 · post by chris 12-o-5 · 1 Comment

I haven’t written for ages because I had to finish my masters dissertation and then move to Berlin the very next day. In classic Chris style I coordinated this epic manoeuvre with working at summer camp the whole of August, moving out of my flat in London, making a new zine, trying to battle a pest epidemic in my house and trying to actually squeeze some enjoyment out of the minuscule selection of sunny days we had. I managed to have a successful leaving party which I thought might not work out too well when I realised it was August and everyone seemed to be away. But somehow around 25 of us terrorised the Sam Smiths pub, nearly drinking it dry, before a group of us went on to rent a private karaoke booth in the tradition of wonderful drunken brainwaves. “It doesn’t matter what it costs! We’ll take it!” My happiest memories of my leaving party were robbing the fridge to compensate for the high costs of renting the room, harassing the owner to give us free time in the room and a load of my oldest friends singing Limp Bizkit ‘Rollin’ while jumping off sofas and spilling stolen beer all over the floor. A good night. So, why Berlin, you might ask? I’m trying to turn my year of negatives ‘B’s – broken leg, bed bugs, break up, bronchitis, bills, into one single positive – Berlin! Things got off to a bit of a rocky start because my internship wasn’t quite what I was hoping it would be, as in, instead of being anything to do with communicating with people it is dominated by analysing data and Excel spreadsheets. Plus I’ve been struggling with asthma since arriving, but I’m on the up as Berlin is a great place to live. It has all the perks of London but cheaper, grungier and infinitely cooler. I’ve basically been eating myself into happiness and drinking beers like they are going out of fashion. Vive la dog on string! However, this arrangement is temporary, so if anyone has any suggestions about what I can do with my life afterwards, I’d be glad to hear them!

Last weekend I went to see Dead to Me, played table football, got fully into bouncing around in the pit for the first time since my accident and made friends with some moustached Germans who were free flowing with the shots. I feel like this was a typical night out in Berlin, where the possibilities of adventure are infinite and time ceases to exist in the dark recesses of rock venues. As this is the mainland and everything starts later than planned, it is not uncommon to go out for a ‘quiet night’ only to emerge blinking in the sunlight and covering your face like a groggy vampire. The morning after the night before, crawling out of my crappy bed in the ‘House of Nations’ where I live, I remembered I’d promised to go on a bike ride with some friends from England who were visiting. I can strongly advocate the bike ride as the best hangover cure there is. I met them and climbed aboard this vintage Dutch bike and prepared to attempt Berlin bike paths for the first time. We cycled along the Spree, down past East Side Gallery, through Kreuzberg and down to the old Templehof airport on the South side of the city. Templehof was built pre-WW2 and was once one of the largest buildings on earth. It was closed in 2008 and now stands desolate, grey and ghostly. A few old military jets sit discarded by the sides and the cracks in the runways are punctuated with weeds. The public can ride around on the runway, roller skate, play and fly kites, which gives life to what would otherwise be a barren landscape.

As I was riding around feeling rejuvenated, I got a text message reading something like this, “Hey, it’s the wrestler! You’re still on for tonight right? I’m putting you on the guestlist.” This doesn’t happen to me too often anymore, but I sat there and looked at the words on my screen as if they were written in French. Wrestler? Guestlist? What? I reflected back on my evening. I could remember inviting loads of people to play table football and throwing around 50cent coins like I was that kid from Blank Check. I could remember giving the doorman a lecture on English grammar because he kept saying people had to be quiet because the neighbours were ‘fucked up’. I remember sitting on the U-Bahn on the way to another party at 4.30 and then suddenly deciding I was hammered and stumbling down my road with my key in front of me like a medieval lance, as if it contained a magnet or homing beacon that would draw it directly to my lock. I remember all of that, but I don’t remember anything about a wrestler. I text back, putting on my best British politeness, and asked what time I should get there and where I should go. Why not? Some hours later I was standing in a line of wrestling fans with my friend Cat wondering what the hell I was doing. My new friend had got us pretty good seats, so we rounded up a few beers and prepared for the wrestling ’show’. I was unsure whether this was going to be ‘real wrestling’ or the kind of wrestling I’d been brought up on, the type with theatrics, chairs as props and ridiculous costumes. Fortunately, it was the latter, and before long I was picking up the German wrestling charts and standing up next to a child with a full length mullet screaming “FINISH HIM!” Amongst the wrestling concepts on display we had a straight edge wrestler, which was my new friend, The Vampire, a father-son tag team and an English street punk who would scream ‘BOLLLLLOCKS!’ every time he was thrown on the ground. Afterwards we stood chatting with the guys and I realised some kind of childhood fantasy as these muscled ‘heroes’ told me the secrets of their trade. 15 years too late, but still appreciated.

Other highlights of my time here in Berlin have been regular meals at Yo Yos, some casual tourism, Dead to Me and Jeff Rowe playing acoustic at the Ramones museum, Astpai, RVIVR and Offshore Radio at Subversiv (a squat venue with a huge banner reading “Refugees Welcome! Tourists Fuck Off!”, helping out with the Berlin Bombshells roller derby, Sundays walking around the big flea market near my house, sometimes preceded by the all you can eat breakfast buffet at Cafe Morgen Rot and late night wanderings on the streets of Berlin. It’s always tough moving to a new place and trying to integrate with new people, especially when you are ill all the time, but I’m trying to make this work for me and have some awesome fun before figuring out where I’m going to go next. Until next time.

* If you want a copy of Once More, With Morphine, my new zine, you will have to wait til I am back in the UK in December as I only got 40 copies to start with and they are all gone. However, let me know you’re interested and I will see what I can do!

→ 1 CommentThis entry belongs to the following categories: Blogs · Prancer

1 response so far

  • kathy burnham posted:
    Jan 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm. Comment #1

    i can’t wait to go to berlin- i’ve never been there and hope to spend a few months there next year. hopefully i will be able to get a job at tascheles as some kind of artist’s assistant- i’m also looking forward to seeing bauhaus as well as hanging out in prezlander berg.


Chris 12-o-5 gravatar imageName: Chris 12-o-5
Bio: Chris studies, drinks, cooks, rides and writes. Currently in London, but who knows where next?

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