My fiancée and I are spending the weekend in Berlin. It may begin to sound like a habit, because it is: last time we were in town was barely 2 months ago. In other words, we have a problem.
This time, though, we decided to experiment a little and get to know a neighborhood that’s still up and coming: Moabit. Usually, we spend most of our time in Kreuzberg, Neukölln and more recently Friedrichshain (just because I didn’t know about this little jewel of a place until my fiancée — then-girlfriend — had me walk through it in the bitter December cold, and I still enjoyed myself to the point that we did get engaged; eventually). These neighborhoods have been cool and/or hip (depending on your definition) for years, with good reason: there are so many nice cafés and bars that you quickly start becoming very hard to please. Then somewhat disappointed when you go back to the bland options Paris still often has to offer.
Moabit is a slightly different story: located right next to the city’s central station, between the river and a canal, it looks like a small — and central — enough place to become distinctive and cool, yet it only apparently started happening in the past few years — whereas Kreuzberg has been the “it” place since 2005 (for tourists like me, earlier for the true pioneers). Just to put things into perspective. We’d walked through Moabit last Christmas, but I have to confess my impression was not exactly lasting: lots of grey residential buildings, not that many restaurants — even less kebab shops. Harsh living conditions, if you ask me.
The thing is, once you spend a few days anywhere and start understanding its logic — a significantly easier task when your fiancée knows how to read a map — you get to feel the vibe, where to go and where the cool streets are starting to develop. Up to the cool coffee shops — the end game, obviously. On our first afternoon, on Friday, we sipped our caffe Crema — which, despite the name, is actually long black — in front of another coffee shop that doubled as a laudromat, because of course.
Yesterday evening aka Saturday night aka party night, I (again) followed my fiancée to Wedding, a neighborhood just North of Moabit that’s been happening for a little while already — and that I hardly knew the name of before… well… yesterday. And it’s not because I don’t want to think about our actual wedding: let’s be clear, I’m not the kind of guy who’s gonna stay engaged for years before actually getting married. We have civil unions for that.
Anyway, after having remarkably good Vietnamese food for dinner — I say that because we tend to have very good Vietnamese restaurants in Paris and are, therefore, rather demanding when it comes to that — we walked up to Panke, a club that’s located in an old warehouse, next to other clubs, including one where people only dance tango, and another one that only plays 70’s and 80’s retro tunes (Abba, anyone?). And Panke, finally, that’s more hardcore electro/techno/garage stuff. Because everyone can have different tastes.
And so we listened to a refreshingly authentic techno / hardcore / drum n’ bass set (I think) from about 11pm till a little after midnight. That’s when I started yawning like the old man that I am and asked my fiancée if it wasn’t time to go home and have tea. As one can also do, thank you very much.