Through the night” column: everyone needs a favorite place

Berliners define themselves by the city and even more by their favorite pub or park – ultimate seismographs for their attitude to life.

Another favorite place: at the climbing rock in Volkspark Friedrichshain. Bouldering is the new German word for it Photo: dpa

What a certain place in Berlin really means to you is usually only noticed when it is no longer there or threatens to disappear. Because with the place always goes a piece of Berlin – and you first have to come to terms with the phantom pain.

When I drive past the place where the Festsaal Kreuzberg once stood, I’m reminded of what used to be there and have to realize every time that there’s nothing there anymore. The ongoing debate about the Volksbuhne shows how much these places, which are sometimes subjectively and sometimes objectively significant, also serve as seismographs for a certain attitude toward life. Soon, the new guy from Great Britain will take over, and the previous boss, a cranky East German, will have to go. This can only mean that Berlin will once again be made a bit more manageable.

By choosing a certain favorite place, one places oneself in a certain relationship to the city and thereby defines oneself to a certain extent.

It took me quite a long time to find such a place that really means something to me. For a long time I tried everything possible to find out what my favorite place in Berlin could be, but it was always in vain. For example, I sat around on Modersohnbrucke to watch the sun set behind the TV tower, along with others and a bongo player. It was quite Berlin, but nothing I need all the time.

Rather not a regular pub

Friends tried to get me interested in their Neukolln regular pubs, where they knew everyone at the foosball table and even the name of the flying samosa vendor. I quickly had to realize that I simply don’t need a regular pub. Simply because even in the greatest bar with the best beer I still have the feeling that somewhere else it is still certainly a little better.

Unexpectedly, however, it then happened: I finally discovered my very personal piece of Berlin, which I hope will never disappear, because anything that could take its place would only worsen the relationship between me and Berlin.

My favorite place is the "b-ware! Ladenkino" in Friedrichshain, a cinema that is not a cinema at all, but a video store that also shows films. Nobody understands the exact concept, probably not even the operators of the store themselves do, and I find that fascinating.

For me, b-ware! on Gartnerstrabe embodies my ideal Berlin. It’s quirky and hard to explain. It does without the foodie nonsense that is currently making its way into other art-house cinemas in the city. Instead of popcorn, there’s a whiskey bar.

Tip for the movie ticket

Hipsters avoid the b-ware! because many films are only shown when no one is talking about them anymore, which is against the rules of hipsterism. Too much capitalism is implicitly criticized: There are no commercials before the films; the entrance fee averages 4.75 euros, so you’re happy to tip a few cents on top. The music in the foyer is always good and different from the usual foyer music. Right now there’s a lot of riot grrrl punk, Seven Year Bitch, Sleater Kinney and stuff like that.

No matter what happens to the Volksbuhne – as long as my favorite place in Berlin continues to exist in its current form, everything is actually good.

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