From Berghain to the Stallions and Mares club (Fickstutenmarkt), Berlin is known as one of the best cities for LGBT clubbing in the world. This year we turned up in the city to check out Berlin Pride and see if the rumours were true. We arrived on Friday 20 June, just as the parties had begun to kick off.
On our first night, we were told we were on the guestlist at Connection at Fuggerstraße 33. However, upon arrival (and after a lengthy queue), we were told they didn’t know anything about it without even checking the guestlist. We asked to speak to a manager, or someone who did have the guestlist (which we saw tucked under the reception desk, anyway), but the man on the door refused. This wasn’t a good start, we thought – Berlin queers seemed quite rude.
Next we headed to Prinzknecht, next door to Connection. This was a lively bar with a sporty-cruisy atmosphere, best typified by two screens next to each other showing porn and football, respectively. Downstairs was a dark room which was large but, at that time at least, largely empty. We ordered a couple of rounds of drinks, but seemed to upset the barman when we queried why we were both charged different prices for the same round of drinks (one if them had undercharged us, as it transpired). The venue seemed to get empty pretty quickly, and after it closed, we asked where we should go next, only to be ignored completely. This wasn’t going well.
Next we headed to Dreizehn, nearby on Welserstraße 27, where we received a much more civil welcome (and more consistently priced drinks). Although that too was due to close imminently, the staff and regulars were keen to show us a good time, and escorted us to another venue. They also gave us local maps of the gay bars which proved really useful later on.
We soon found ourselves in Scheune: a rather kinky bar with corners labelled ‘piss’ and ‘fist’. Downstairs was a rather crowded dark room (completely the opposite of the one in Prinzknecht) in which our new friend for the evening spent rather a lot of time, which he seemed rather happy about. We were able to drink and converse with a wide range of people, and overall this was the kind of venue we had come to Berlin expecting to see.
GMF at Café Moskau
The next night we scratched the idea of returning to Connection to see if our luck would be better (we were meant to be on the list again), and headed straight to the Christopher Street Day closing party at GMF, hosted at the Soviet-era Café Moskau. Luckily we were invited to jump the queue and (shock horror!) our names were actually on the list!
We walked into what, at first, felt a little like a big school disco – Café Moskau. The gymnasium-style venue had lots of big windows and was rather informal. But we quickly discovered there were some stairs leading downstairs – a space that was much darker and much dancier. We were quickly in our element!
Upstairs offered a nice, camp place to mingle with drag queens, dance to chart pop and have a chat (there was a wonderful outdoor smoking area in the courtyard), while downstairs allowed us to jump up and down and get sweaty to dance and popular classics. And just at the time Prinzknecht was probably closing for an early evening, a huge swell of people arrived, making the club even busier. There were fantastic outfits, some crazy dance moves, and some of the hottest bar staff we’ve seen in a while. Simply put: GMF was magnificent, and well worth a visit.
For more information about LGBT Berlin, check out the Visit Berlin website.