What has struck me lately about living in Berlin is that I really feel like I’m part of something special; that there is something wonderful in the air and we’re all here experiencing it together. This place is filled with so many colourful characters following their hearts and doing what they love, with other like-minded souls, in a liberal, creative and hugely historic place. It creates this exhilarating environment like nowhere else I’ve been.
Whilst hanging out at Mauerpark (a giant flea market which happens every Sunday in Prenzlauer Berg) on a stinking hot day, the blinding sun high in the sky, fresh on this side of the summer solstice, we were drawn to a band playing under the shade of the trees. Initially drawn in by the large crowd which had gathered, and the rendition of a stonking techie track they were playing, it was like nothing else that I’d seen nor heard – the band were making beautiful music with the aid of everyday kitchen pots. Noisy Pots, a fitting name for the band, hail from Prague and come up to Berlin to play gigs in the city and usually play at Mauerpark. Until they get shut down, yet again, by the Polizei for not having the correct busking permit. Tut tut.
To be a part of this crowd who were totally entranced by these exceptionally ingenious, talented guys playing beautiful music on pots; with an additional layer of awesome from a guy dancing beside the band who was quite possibly once of the best dancers I’ve yet seen; to witness the disbelieving smiles on peoples faces. It was a truly Berlin moment, a time where I felt so happy to be here sharing this delight with others.
Last weekend I was also stoked to see Beirut, an old school fave of mine, at the Zitadelle. Spandau. After biking through massive Volksparks, along the river path through hundreds of Gartenhäuser, we rocked up to the gig and in a moment of true serendipity, the first people we laid eyes on sold us tickets for a fraction of the door price. We wandered into the citadel and were stunned. An ancient fortress which was built on top of a medieval fort on an island where the Havel and Spree rivers meet, it was completed in 1594. It is now used for music festivals, events and exhibitions, and houses creative spaces, museums, galleries and a restaurant.
The massive dance area was lined with stalls offering an array of street food and refreshments. We ate our vegan hamburgers, washed down with Berlin’s finest, with hundreds of other chilled out peeps soaking up the venerable surrounds. Once the synth pop band started, I was amazed at how relaxed, peaceful and enchanted the crowd were, which was naturally heightened once Beirut started to play. It was almost meditative, the crowd not really dancing like we would back home, but barely swaying, mellow, heads nodding in time with the music, totally entranced by Beirut’s captivating music. Again, everyone had smiles on their diles, open and sympatico to one another. It was pure grace.
And then there are times when I just have to laugh at the eccentricity of this place: the poet who wrote my Beau and I deeply spiritual poems whilst hanging out in a park in Mitte in the very early hours of the morning; the lifeguards at the (indoor) swimming pool smoking at the waters edge whilst watching swimmers lapping the pool and retirees aquaerobicising; the young boy shouting at me as I crossed the road whilst the traffic light was still red (“the red man is still there, you MUST wait for the green man!”); the bus driver who couldn’t pull up to the bus stop without crashing into the curb; walking through Savignyplatz and a man unbeknownst to me standing up, waving and giving me a wink.
There is a besonderheit, a uniqueness or distinctiveness about Berlin that lures you in, get’s you every time. Berlin, don’t go changing – you’re totally glowing right now.