Half of the friends I met at the hummus/ chicken place earlier today are standing outside a big building that looks like it should be abandoned. Instead, there’s a door guy and a line. Said door guy only let fifty percent of the group in, who gamely took the opportunity to go inside and have a drink while the rest of waited on the sidewalk for them to finish.
After ten minutes sitting at a bus stop under fluorescent lights, we are rejoined by the deserters and I am next to Battina, a German girl from Berlin who just moved back from four years in London as of thirty days ago. She – just like Brannon – has the inflections of someone who has lived aboard, using British sayings like “That’s such shit” and wrapping words with a pseudo Cambridge flair. Battina sounds like she went to finishing school with The Little Princess.
You can barely tell she’s German. She could be my sister.
The group splits into two different cars for the short drive to Odessa Bar. We listen to A$AP Rocky rap about egos and mirrors, gritty mutha fuckas and what it’s like reppin’ Harlem. Everyone but me knows the lyrics. We’ll listen to this song about 900 times before I leave on Wednesday.
Alan parks the car and we walk through a bulky mass of Germans congregating outside of Odessa, beverages in hand. Once inside, the bar is the first thing you see, which is probably how all bars should be anyway, given that the point of a bar is to, well, get a goddamn drink I guess. There’s a handwritten sign with a list of cocktails accompanied by absurdly reasonable Euro price tags.
Jonas orders a vodka soda that I take five-cent nips off of for thirty minutes.
“I’ll be right back,” I say, and I go off exploring.
The bathroom is the highlight. It’s dark and moody and looks like an excellent place to destroy your life until the wee hours of the morning. There are mirrors reflecting black walls and golden light, a table with an impressive bouquet of flowers and a stack of thick, fancy hand towels. There is no garbage bin; used towels are strewn all over the floor like celebratory confetti, centralized around the table area and then trailing out the door and into the bar.
I meet the boys back outside. And when I say “the boys” I don’t just mean my boys, but THE boys. There are boys everywhere in Berlin – tall, strapping lads that all look like grown-up versions of the kids on Kinder chocolate bars, ripe for booking Ralph Lauren watch campaigns.
“Look at this,” I say, nudging Jonas while I wave my arm in a half-circle. “Dudes. One-hundred-and-eighty-degrees of dudes.” It’s true; as far as I can see, there are just boys drinking beer. I haven’t seen this many men banded together since an opening party at Saturdays Surf.
The ratio of men to women here eschews highly in favor of women, which is pretty much the exact opposite of New York City, where men can have their pick of you or me…or her or her or her or her. A girl’s singleness reflects back at her like a mocking, horrible image in a hall of mirrors: you, alone, over and over and over again in perpetuity. Because how are you ever going to meet a person in a place where supply outstrips demand? Beyonce needs to sing a little song about “All the Single Ladies” moving to Berlin.
“Let’s go to Picknick,” someone says, and then someone says that Picknick sucks now.
“May as well go,” someone else says, “and if it’s bad we can leave.”
Such is life.
Picknick is located in the government district, supposedly near a police station or something, which is pretty hilarious considering what goes on here. It’s one of those places that opens on a Thursday and doesn’t close until Monday. Basically you leave when you get tired or the drugs wear off, whatever comes first.
I follow Jonas through a corridor, past kids holding drinks in an open space between buildings. We move onward through another corridor towards another enclosed space where music thumps and people dance. Images are projected on the adjacent walls. People bump together, dancing en masse. The music plays and it is good and for five minutes I think this might be the most fun I will ever have.
And then the DJ changes the song.
And puts on a bad one.
And another bad one.
The rest of the night kind of goes on like this – chasing the dreams of those first bassy five minutes, only to get slammed in the face with bad Rihanna remixes and sweaty tweakers.
We take the party inside, hoping that a different DJ might alleviate some of boredom the last just infected us with. Unfortunately, about 102 people have thought of the same thing at the same time and now I’m in a hallway two shoulders wide, jammed with pushing humanity sucking in air and forcing out carbon dioxide and body odor, leaving the climate as hot and steamy as any Russian bathhouse. This is how people die in panic stampedes. Yeah, I’m pretty sure of that. I’m just praying to god the broken beer bottles I’m crushing underfoot don’t kick up and slide in between my skin and my sandals.
I don’t feel like going to the ER tonight.
Once inside, bloodless and physically unscathed, I am dismayed to discover very soon that these new DJs are hell bent on playing arguably worse music. Adding insult to injury are the offensive teeny tiny hot pants the one girl is wearing, a large zipper running the length of her crotch. Bad DJs are the horrible. Bad girl DJs are the worst.
Battina and I refuse to dance in protest.
It’s 4 in the morning and the sun is coming up somewhere not too far away. The blue sky becomes less dense, the moon on the descent, moving towards the rooftops and scaffolding. I look at Jonas and pretend to nod off, a silent plea to call it a day before daybreak.
We leave the others to party until six, dancing to good music, bad music, talking to friends. Jonas and I walk out the doors and through empty streets to wait for a cab for the better part of 45 minutes, standing in the middle of Berlin on my first night/ first morning, ineffectively racing home before the sun comes up.