By Camilla Leathem, PQ Monthly
This blog was supposed to be a completely different one. After months of incompatible work schedules and social activities, my friend P and I finally found a time we could both make it to the Spinnboden, a lesbian archive in central Berlin. We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for; we just wanted to have a snoop around. So last Wednesday, we made the journey. My bike broke down on the way and I had a bit of a moment with an alpha male who arrived on the scene like superman in a business suit and repaired my bi-wheeled iron donkey with bravado.
As you can see, it was a journey fraught with difficulties. When we finally located the archive building (guarded by a German policeman whom we could in no way take seriously due to his resemblance to Santa Claus), we trekked through three paved yards and up three flights of stairs (fraught with difficulties, I tell you!) to find that the Spinnboden lesbians had gone on holiday and hadn’t thought to inform the general public of this anywhere. What does one do when one is locked out of a lesbian archive? One pockets as much of the merchandise lying around outside as one can.
Among the LGBTQ treasures that I later took out of my pocket in my apartment was July’s edition of the Siegessäule, Berlin’s main LGBTQ magazine (okay, “pocket” may have been a factual error. I also filled my handbag). The Siegessäule magazine is named after the historically and architecturally significant Victory Column in the centre of Berlin. Why it chose this monument in particular, I still haven’t determined. The first few pages offer a small selection of topical articles written moderately well about moderately interesting LGBTQ topics. But that isn’t what the Siegessäule is there for. The Siegessäule is there for planning one’s weekend. Using some extremely Germanic planning skills, I spent a few minutes making a collage of LGBTQ events promoted in the Siegessäule, which I would like to entitle “Friday in Berlin as a SuperGay.” The idea was to see how many obscure events one can pack into one day in this town. The results are as follows …
Friday, 27 July 2012
After a half-comatose bitch-fight with my alarm clock, I head over to the Gay Raft Tour on Lake Müggelsee at 9am. And you can banish any imaged of clumsily paddling gays right now: these rafts are motorised, baby. What I do after the Gay Raft Tour depends on whether the rafts have made me feel (a) nature-loving, or (b) horny. In the instance of option (a), I could head on to the Women’s Bike Tour up into the countryside north of Berlin at 10:30am. In the instance of option (b), I could head to the Gay Tantra Workshop at 10am (for singles AND couples, don’t you know). (Wait, singles? I think I’d go here just to see how they arrange that one.)
My next event doesn’t start until 2pm, so in the meantime I’d probably either pass out from all that rafting and cycling, or from all that rafting and … um … tantra massage (it’s an exhausting business). At 2pm, I’d head to the Memorial Event for the Nazi Homosexual Killings in summer 1942 at the Klinkerbecken Memorial in Berlin-Oranienburg. Oranienburg is quite far from Berlin and it’s probably going to take me a while to get back to the city.
Hopefully I’d get back by 5pm, though, because I would have my Express Syphillis/HIV Test then! And I hope it really would be an EXPRESS test, because I’d want to hang around at the Gay Beach while the sun’s still out, and before I have to run to the Humboldt University for a public lecture on gender in cultures of knowledge: “Affects re-enacted. Queer politics and negative aesthetics.” Having anticipated that the lecture is less engaging than its title promises, I’d have an evening of parties lined up. (It is a Friday, after all.)
I must add at this point that, if I were a woman (I can probably lose the hypotheticals here) … AS a woman, my choices of more interesting club nights are a bit limited. If I were a man I could hit up the CDL Club at 7pm for the “Naked with Mask Party” (Germans like to use English words in popular culture and advertising. To make sure potential clientèle understand them, gay Germans seem to select the most blatant English descriptions available). After that, I’d probably head to the Lab.oratory Club for the “Naked Sex Party” (wonder what might happen there) at 9pm, or, if I were a naughty boy, I could head to Böse Buben (Naughty Boys’ Club) for a club night entitled “Spanking, Toys’n Sex” (again, this is just all too cryptic for me). If the toys’n sex got too playful for me, I could head to the COCKS club for the Piss Party. (Too bad I missed the Naked Cocks Party there on Thursday night.) Or, if I wanted to go to something similar but more subtle, I could pop over to the Darkroom Club for their “Golden Shower Party.” To wrap it all up, I would probably land at Meschugge, who are hosting a Jewish gay night with the slogan “Get yourself a Jewish boy for the summer.”
But alas! I am not a man! What are my options post public gender lecture? Well I could always go to Cafe Begine for a round of “Game Olympics.” No, unfortunately this is not German people making clever puns: this really refers to games. And not the kind of games played by the Naughty Boys. Uno, Rummy, Scrabble. Those kind of games. That would be my option for 9pm on a Friday night. Otherwise, I’d have to wait four days until Tuesday evening for a club night with a name that is just beyond endearing: “Be Cunt.” The Be Cunt party’s marketing text announces “Today’s motto is ‘summer cunt’” — in English (see above for observations on gay Germans and subtle uses of the English language) … “where you can cuddle, kiss, flirt, fuck, dance, and talk”. Oh yes please; in that order.
A typical and admittedly frantic gay day in Berlin. If anyone would like to see me actually attending any of the above named events, vote now and I will blog about it at a later date.
Camilla Leathem was born in a miniscule seaside town in southwest England, studied English literature and German in London, and is now pursuing a German language PhD in Berlin. Likes: Germany, German, and the Germans, pigs, and secretly analysing people when they’re not looking. Hates: pasta, flat shoes, and techno music.