Friday, April 3, 2009

I heart Berlin.

I didn't think I would. I have to admit that I wasn't exactly looking forward to being in Berlin. I was just excited to see Melanie, a good friend from high school. I had watched a German movie on my flight from Doha about some kids in Berlin, and it made the city look cold and empty. And it didn't help that when I arrived, it was freezing and overcast.

I had essentially written off Berlin, but on the third day, the city said to me, "Wait a minute! Ein minuten bitter!" That day, Melanie and I went to Marx-Engels Platz in former East Berlin for a demonstration and then she took me for a nice bike tour of the city, recalling interesting bits of information from her days as a tour guide. And then that night, Melanie and I and some friends of hers went to an underground (literally...four stories underground) techno dance party. We got there at 1 am and left at 9 am. It was so European, so Germany, and so much fun. It was incredibly liberating because as a white American, I'm so conditioned to thinking that I'm not a good dancer because "white people just can't dance." I'm usually super self-conscious when I'm dancing in the States, but I wasn't in Germany. And that's not because I suddenly acquired techno dancing superpowers, but rather because I realized that the Germans around me weren't any better than I was. So I let it all go. It was wonderful. I was so present, at ease, and crazy that a few people came up to me to ask for drugs. No, there's no ecstasy at work here. Just a catharsis after being repressed in the States for 25 years.

Berlin is a fascinating city because it doesn't have a unifying identity. It doesn't have the romance or charm of Paris or London or Amsterdam. Berlin has been so many things over the's been ruled by Prussians, Nazis, capitalists, and communists. Because Berlin doesn't have a single identity, Berliners are able to play an active role in reviving the city, whether that's through politics, philosophy, the arts, etc. That's why Berlin is home to so many leftist, radical groups because there really isn't a status quo to fight against.

I also loved Berlin because I love saying things with a super thick German accent. I don't know a lick of the language, but I can imitate it pretty well. Muck, muck, muck, muck, muck.

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