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When in Berlin | Culture, people, things to do and memorable brands
When in New York
Cultural Currents

It’s not new information to state that Berlin is really two cities in one – still defined by the historic split into East and West, this divide is visible not just in the city’s monuments or remnants of the wall but also in its architecture and demographic make-up – East and West. Yet arguably, Berlin is actually a multiplicity of cities, each jostling for position next to and on top of one another, threaded through the languages and accents of the ever-growing expat communities. For now, Neukoln in the south-east is the place to be with off-kilter music venues and strange pool bars amongst late night kebab shops. But this is already starting to become more upmarket, and eyes are turning next towards Wedding.

Berlin’s clubbing culture is a crucial fixture of the city. What makes Berlin unique, however, is its inhabitants’ approach to nightlife – in that it isn’t really night life at all. A typical ‘night out’ could run from 2am on a Friday to 4pm on a Saturday – it’s very common for hardcore clubbers to go home for a nap in the middle of the day and return once they feel refreshed. Others expect to spend so long in one location that they bring a change of clothes in their bag so they can ‘freshen up’ without leaving the venue. Perhaps a result of the large number of freelancers and creatives working in the city, a total flexibility of schedule is as much a part of play as it is of work.

 
 
 
 

It’s not new information to state that Berlin is really two cities in one – still defined by the historic split into East and West, this divide is visible not just in the city’s monuments or remnants of the wall but also in its architecture and demographic make-up – East and West. Yet arguably, Berlin is actually a multiplicity of cities, each jostling for position next to and on top of one another, threaded through the languages and accents of the ever-growing expat communities. For now, Neukoln in the south-east is the place to be with off-kilter music venues and strange pool bars amongst late night kebab shops. But this is already starting to become more upmarket, and eyes are turning next towards Wedding.

Berlin’s clubbing culture is a crucial fixture of the city. What makes Berlin unique, however, is its inhabitants’ approach to nightlife – in that it isn’t really night life at all. A typical ‘night out’ could run from 2am on a Friday to 4pm on a Saturday – it’s very common for hardcore clubbers to go home for a nap in the middle of the day and return once they feel refreshed. Others expect to spend so long in one location that they bring a change of clothes in their bag so they can ‘freshen up’ without leaving the venue. Perhaps a result of the large number of freelancers and creatives working in the city, a total flexibility of schedule is as much a part of play as it is of work.

an interesting thing to do

There’s a wonderful flea-market in the Mauerpark, next to the remains of the wall, where locals and tourists alike converge on Sundays to haggle over useless items, unexpected antiques and vintage clothing. In recent years, as it’s gained greater popularity, there are many different street-food stalls, representing both local and international cuisine. It’s delightful in summer, and if you time it right you’ll get there during the spontaneous mass karaoke sessions that happen in a hollow not far from the market. Huge crowds gather to watch random people belt their hearts out, sometimes emotionally, often hilariously.


There’s a wonderful flea-market in the Mauerpark, next to the remains of the wall, where locals and tourists alike converge on Sundays to haggle over useless items, unexpected antiques and vintage clothing. In recent years, as it’s gained greater popularity, there are many different street-food stalls, representing both local and international cuisine. It’s delightful in summer, and if you time it right you’ll get there during the spontaneous mass karaoke sessions that happen in a hollow not far from the market. Huge crowds gather to watch random people belt their hearts out, sometimes emotionally, often hilariously.

One local brand

The energy drink Club Mate is a Berlin staple, recognisable for its orange colour, hatted pilgrim logo and ability to raise energy levels to heights other energy drinks can only dream of. Its distinctive flavour is considered an acquired taste, but one that it’s worth the effort to acquire – it’s a staple of nightclub culture as a way of sustaining energy through the night and into the next day. Drunk either as a mixer or on its own, you know you’ve found the ‘party people’ if they’re casually swigging a Club Mate.

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With thanks to Hannah Marcus for her unique, cultural insights.