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  • Editor at large: Jonny’s October culture report


Editor at large: Jonny’s October culture report

Our Editor-in-Chief gets around. This month he hit up a ballroom extravaganza, vegetarian fine dining, and the Champions League.

Luna TikTok. Photo: Pinky Promise

Union Berlin at Olympiastadion

Photo: IMAGO / Beautiful Sports

A few months ago, on the way back from the lake in Kaulsdorf, I boarded a train that  was absolutely packed with 1. FC Union Berlin fans, singing at the top of their lungs. They were the most vocal fans I’d ever encountered. The atmosphere was infectious, and I had a massive grin the whole way to Warschauer Straße. We published an Exberliner feature about how special the fans and the club are, but this was the first time I had experienced it first-hand, and it really made me want to go see a game to find out what that was like. Fast forward a few weeks, and my friend Mario Heller asked me if I wanted to go to the Champions League game at Olympiastadion between 1. FC Union Berlin and Braga.

They sang relentlessly at the top of their lungs

What an honour! Nothing really prepared me for how more than 70,000 Union fans in one place would sound. It was wild. They sang relentlessly at the top of their lungs, created a sea of waving scarves and were the most vociferous and enthusiastic supporters you could imagine. The game was a thriller. Union went 2-0 up, before Braga scored to make it 2-1 at halftime. Braga equalised in the second half and the game looked destined to be a draw – right up until the fourth minute of stoppage time when Braga squeaked in a winning goal. It was an absolutely heartbreaking end, but it was still an amazing experience overall, and I’m dying to attend more matches now.  

The Aftermath Ball

Photo: Jenkins Jenkins

With well-curated concerts and performances, the event series TingelTangel im Theater des Westens has been breathing new life and freshness into the historic venue. This is down in no small part to the drive and involvement of Pansy, who has used her Midas touch to draw new audiences across the venue doors. The strongest evidence for this might come from the ‘10s Across the Board’ and the ‘Aftermath Ball’ events. To see the grandiose and decadent space filled with the beautiful ballroom community was an absolute joy to behold. I made it to the Aftermath Ball, and it was jammed.

The beautiful ballroom community was an absolute joy to behold

If you’ve never been to a Ballroom event, imagine a runway show, but instead of it being a regular catwalk with stone-faced models, it’s flamboyant and fabulous members of the queer community expressing themselves and competing with each other. Categories that people can compete in include vogue performances, fashion, body and sex, and drag realness. The atmosphere was incredible, and to see the queer, trans and drag communities being celebrated in this space was really amazing.

Cookies Cream 15th anniversary event

Photo: Julia Zoooi

Before I moved to Berlin, I visited regularly, and on every trip I made, I would make sure to pay a visit to the vegetarian fine dining restaurant Cookies Cream. The food there is hands down the best I have ever eaten and just on a whole other level. As is sometimes the way, once I lived in Berlin permanently I started taking Cookies Cream for granted and didn’t eat there as regularly. I won’t be taking it for granted ever again.

The food there is hands down the best I have ever eaten

In October, the restaurant announced its first new chef in 14 years, and we were invited along to experience the new seven-course menu. I’m not a real foodie or critic, but holy shit it was so good. Every dish was bursting with flavour, and the ways in which vegetables were inventively and creatively brought to life was pure pleasure. It was one of the best vegetarian meals I’ve had the treat of eating, and I hereby vow to never neglect the restaurant again.

Pinky Promise World

Photo: Pinky Promise

I finally made it to a Pinky Promise event at Club Ost. This party series aims to differentiate itself from other sex positive events by creating a soft and welcoming environment where people can celebrate and explore themselves freely. The programming includes workshops and cabaret performances as part of the programming, as well as a lineup of DJs. For this edition, the theme was ‘Golden Paradise’, and the workshops included topics such as the power of pleasure and a guide to anti-oppressive touch and communication. It was really good to see such a big turnout for these workshops in the early part of the evening.

A soft and welcoming environment where people can celebrate and explore themselves freely

The cabaret section was a roaring success. There was something different and unusual about managing to get hundreds of people to sit down on a club floor to enjoy the performances. After the cabaret, it was back to the DJ action and more standard club vibes. There was a large main room with a big dancefloor, a smaller room upstairs, and some breakout spaces. There wasn’t too much in the way of open expressions of sexuality, but the crowd was very friendly and fun. If you’re looking for a friendly entry point to Berlin’s sex-positive party scene, Pinky Promise could be the gateway club for you.


Photo: Nicole Pfister

During the lockdowns, I watched the whole of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks for the first time. I loved the style and spectacle of the show, even though I didn’t fully understand it. That’s also how I felt about HopeMe, Swiss performance artist Anna Anderegg’s piece that she presented at Mahalla. As far as venues go, Mahalla was a perfect choice. The cavernous open space made for an ideal backdrop and provided ample room for Anderegg’s physical performance. The piece opens with Anderegg slowly walking to the centre of the space, clad in fitness gear. Around her are six separate video screens. She then moves around the stage, throwing poses.

It’s a relentless physical performance

On each screen, videos of her replicating the poses are displayed. After a while, a throbbing electronic soundtrack blasts through the speakers. Anderegg proceeds to perform an intense fitness workout, while a voiceover gives instructions and encouragement. It’s a relentless physical performance, with her movements once again duplicated on the screens. The piece culminates with Anderegg removing one of the screens from its stand. The screen is showing another video of her, and she proceeds to interact with it in a variety of ways. It’s an interesting effect and a very clever use of the technology. I read the description of what the piece meant, and to be honest it didn’t help me understand it that much, but I was happy to enjoy it for what it was.

Tip Food Festival

Photo: Makar Artemev

In October, the Tip Food Festival returned in full form for the first time since before the pandemic. The main event took place in Clärchens Ballhaus, and the theme was Italian cuisine. In the front of the venue and in the garden area there were numerous stalls of vendors offering fine Italian food to sample.

I’ll be honest, I made my way around every single stall

Most vendors had travelled from Italy to take part in the event, and it was really nice to meet the people behind the products and to hear their stories. I made my way around every single stall and enjoyed some delicious risotto, excellent pasta and plenty of tasty desserts. I also managed to get to one of the talks upstairs about the future of farming and food production, which was fascinating. I’m not sure if the goal of the festival was to inspire attendees to cook Italian food with quality ingredients, but that’s the feeling I left with.

Normally I round every month off by going to Critical Mass, but it turns out I’m a fairweather cyclist who doesn’t like biking in the rain, so to my shame I skipped the October edition. Fingers crossed we’ll get a dry November and I can take to the streets again!