Berlin: Wursting with Pride
DIVA heads to the German capital for a weekend of Pride, sausages and cycles
Revellers at Berlin's Dyke March 2017
Image: Nice Lady Photography
Just weeks after the Reichstag voted to legalise same-sex marriage, I travelled to Berlin for a long weekend of Pride, sausages and cycles, and was excited to see what the German capital had to keep me “engaged.”
Getting into the city from either of the airports is as easy as eins, zwei, drei. The city’s transport system is relatively cheap and easy to navigate (excluding the Escher-eqsue nightmare, Alexanderplatz).
Ditching my bag, I take off to tour the city on two wheels. Cyclists in Berlin are well-catered for, with cycle lanes on most streets and bike-rental options cheap and plentiful. I’d recommend Fat Tyre Bikes, though you really can’t go wrong whoever you choose.
Keen to find some fabulous wears for the weekend, I head east and potter around the streets of Friedrichshain, in and out of the many quirky independent shops selling clothes and goodies from local brands and artists.
Ever the bargain hunter, I head to Humana at Frankfurter Tor, a five-storey charity shop boasting a range of modern as well as 60s, 70, 80s and 90s vintage wear to help you look sharp and spend ethically.
When I emerge from this wunderland of vintage sportswear and questionable leather items, I’m starving. Berlin has diverse and delicious food options, whatever your budget; from dinner with a view atop the TV tower to mouth-watering street-food at the largest Klunkerkranich Food Market, on top of a Neukolin car-park. I’m a sucker for currywurst. If you are too, vendors across the city sell the dish made of bratwurst (or veggie alternative) smothered in a tangy curry-ketchup. If you are as devout as I am, you can even feed your brain and your cravings at the same time, learning all things sausage at the Currywurst Museum.
As Friday evening rolls around, so too does the Dyke March. Dykes on Bikes with engines revving and horns blaring lead the procession. As I join the march, a speaker strapped to the back of a bicycle a few rows behind me is blasting out the Indigo Girls, and I know I’ve found my people. The march is colourful and friendly and well-wishers wave from windows and cars as we weave our way towards the sunset and Sudblock bar, a favourite with Kreuzberg’s queer crowd. The spacious beer garden is the perfect place to chat, chill and mingle after the march. If you’re a non-drinker, like me, Hamburg based company Fritz offers an exciting range of sodas and kolas available in shops and bars across the city. I love me a melon spritz. Though if you’re hankering for a stein of beer you won’t be disappointed here either.
On Saturday, Berlin celebrates its annual Pride event, Christopher Street Day, named after the location of the Stonewall Inn in New York where riots in 1969 sparked the modern day Pride movement.
I’m invited to join the Berlin branch of German’s LGBTQI Youth Network, Lambda, near the front of the parade. With music blaring and glitter-a-go-go, we dance our way through the city streets. The skies crack with thunder and lightning, but the torrential rain doesn’t dampen the spirit of the 500,000 strong crowd, as floats flood the streets with It’s Raining Men. It goes down a storm (pun intended).
The theme of the march this year, “More of us – every vote against right-wing populism”, is a battle-cry for the upcoming election in Germany. It could not have been more fitting, then, that the march ends with a colourful demo and energetic performances at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, an image once used as a party symbol by the Nazis.
It’s been a brilliant day, if a little emosh, and in need of some respite I head to the stylish sanctuary of Hotel Movenpick, the perfect place to recharge.
Situated a short walk from Potsdamer Platz, the inside of the former Siemens building is stunning. My room is spacious and tranquil and I can’t resist a hot soak in the giant bath tub to relax my tired muscles.
Refreshed, I head to L-Tunes’ Liquid party, billed as “the official lesbian party” for CSD, to throw some shapes (mainly square ones) across the four floors. The night is packed and a hot line-up of DJs and live acts keep the party going well into the night.
Returning to the hotel, I put to the test their promise that in my room I will “sleep individually different” and I’m pleased to report they were true to their word. When it comes to snoozing, they’ve got it sussed, supplying everything you could need for a good night’s kip – some lavender, an eye mask, ear-plugs, and a menu of four (yes, four!) different types of pillows. I slept like a baby – a very glittery baby. I wake from this delicious sleep, just in time to make the most of the hotel’s extensive breakfast buffet, served in their gorgeous Mediterranean-piazza styled glass-roofed lobby.
Trundling off to the airport all too soon, I’m sad to leave this beautiful city that very quickly feels like home, that all at once is exciting and dynamic, but still easy, comfortable and welcoming.
Berlin, you will always have a very special platz in my heart.
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