No Berlin Today
I almost went to Berlin. Nearly. I was so close I could taste it, and for a vegetarian that’s a big admission. But I was scuppered by life and schedules and all those things that serve to scupper.
Had I gone to Berlin, I would have gone to Berghain, a Berlin nightclub in what was once a power plant, behind a rail station on the border between Kreuzbert and Friedrichshain – its name a blend of the last syllable of each. Berghain professes to be the current world capital of Techno music. Its Panorama bar features not a panorama of anything, but instead panorama-sized saucy photos by Wolfgang Tillmans.
But I was not Berlin-bound for its Techno, fine though it may be. Berghain is being developed as a concert hall and it is dabbling in opera. My sister-in-law was in one such opera there, and it would have been a treat to mooch along and see it. But no dice. It was recorded and will soon be a DVD, so that I can see her in a blue rubber prom dress and Rapunzel hair.
Here’s a photo of Berghain’s insides, with lovely lighting. I would have enjoyed the opera, to be sure, and would have enjoyed having a peek around such a notorious night spot, without having to queue and worry about what to wear. But what I wanted most was to see if it was “real.”
Writing about Berlin is a bit like chasing a ghost. A ghost that has been in an awful lot of popular culture. Each piece about Berlin feels like a checklist. Nazis, check. Boot girls, check. Unter den Linden, check. Decadence, debauchery, check and check. Do modern spaces capture this spirit of “old Berlin” better than the kinds of sites and books that offer up maps of ghost buildings? And if I go there – no, when I go there – will I be able to find any ghosts of my own?