After a quiet morning and a leisurely breakfast, I set about catching up on some blogging and finally, at last, chipping my way into the revisions for my proposal. I had actually defended and passed my proposal back in December of last year, but there were requests for revisions that had to be fulfilled before I could be officially ABD (all-but-dissertation); ABD is a status that qualifies you for a large number of dissertation write-up grants, so I am eager to get this taken care of. Also, I can’t really start writing my dissertation chapters if a finalized version of my proposal isn’t on file.
As you might recall if you read my rather intense catch-up post at the beginning of the month, the time between January and June of this year has been something of a panicked sprint, so nothing dissertation-related got done. On the upside, I made some decent money.
Anyway, I had a tough time getting my head back into the proposal. This was partially because my perspective on things has changed since 6 months ago, but also because I haven’t been producing academic prose for just as long. I re-read my proposal as if it were a new but uncannily familiar document, a version of me that had split off last December and drifted in another direction. I was really tempted to do a massive overhaul of the entire thing—essentially, to re-write the proposal from the ground up—but that would knock another few months out of my life, for sure.
So, I found myself acting as my own reluctant editor, grappling with ideas that no longer quite fit me, tweaking and adjusting to satisfy my committee while also making it somehow resonant with what I’m doing right now. It was tough. I started creating a new set of paragraphs on how I think my dissertation project would transform the current discourse on my topic, and found myself disagreeing with the other “me” that had written the first layer of this palimpsest half a year ago. I took a break to scan the document for typos and awkward prose, then spent another two hours hammering at the literature review section.
Relieved that I had at least made some advances after such a long hiatus, but also frustrated that it had taken me several hours to punch out the equivalent of 2 or 3 pages, I decided to treat myself to a bike ride. My roommate left me the keys to her bike while she’s in NYC, so I hopped on and made my way to the Tiergarten on the other side of Berlin. At first I had thought that a bike ride along the canal would be pleasant, but while the canal itself is lovely, most of the paths are gravel and hilly and shared with a lot of pedestrians. I would learn later that day on the way home that Urbanstraße covers the same distande and has a dedicated bike lane.
I circled around the Tiergarten at a leisurely pace until the sun began to set, and then headed home. I got a call from a guy I had met at the mutek festival in Montréal last month, who had told me that he would be in Berlin for the weekend. Fantômette had been telling me that she and her girlfriend were going to go to Watergate to see MyMy, so I told this guy about the plans and we arranged to meet at his hostel later that night to head out dancing as a group.
After a hastily-made meal of pasta and leftover ají de gallina, I headed over to meet the French-but-living-in-Québec guy at his hostel and take him out. The plan had originally been to go to the Kantine at Berghain to meet the rest of the crew, but Fantô and her GF cancelled. The two of us went nonetheless, and I invited another French friend (last seen here) to join us at the Kantine.
Part One: Kantine at Berghain
Kantine in German usually means “employee cafeteria,” and this is exactly what this structure once was. Just as Berghain was built in the remains of a DDR-era electrical plant, the Kantine (also known as the Alte Kantine, but which creates confusion with another club of the same name) was built into the small dining hall about 20 meters away from the main building. Although the converted dining hall was nothing exceptional (only the most necessary renovations had been done, nothing decorative), the biergarten / café surrounding it was lovely. There was a modernist fountain (dating, I believe, from the DDR period) at the centre of a courtyard area, with covered tables, benches, tall trees and lights hanging from the branches. Beer was as cheap as always (3€ for a Franziskaner Hefeweisen), and apparently they served food before midnight. We arrived just as the outdoor bar was about to close and the indoor one to open, so we grabbed some beers and took a minute to enjoy the patio.
Eventually, the other French dude that I had invited along showed up, and we got ourselves together and headed into the Kantine. Cover is normally 3€, but apparently it was free before midnight or something, so we got in just under the wire. The space inside was still pretty empty and the music was a bit random, but we nonetheless grabbed a couple of drinks, chatted about everything and nothing, and made use of the (surprisingly non-grungy) bathrooms.
Part Two: Watergate Club
After wandering out of the Kantine, we caught a cab and made our way to Watergate. Fantô and her GF were already inside, and there was a pretty long lineup (considering it was only 1h00 on a Wednesday). We stood in line and chatted, while the line slowly inched forwards. Ahead of us was a group of five Brazilian guys, all a little bit lit and hitting clumsily on the two British girls standing between us and them. I turned to my French-via-Québec buddy and said, “See them? They’re not getting in.” I had been explaining the Berlin door policies to him earlier, so this was a good opportunity to see it in action.
Also, there was a group of about 5 or 6 British kids behind us who weren’t likely to get in. They had at least 2 women with them, which usually would mean a clear entry into the club, but all of them were thoroughly drunk, slurring in English with heavy accents (that I couldn’t quite place). Also, they were pretty young, but I don’t think that’s as much a problem at Watergate as it would be at Berghain.
Anyway, I’ll spoil the suspense and tell you right now that neither group got in.
We were supposed to be seeing MyMy that night, which is a DJ trio, but apparently one of the members wasn’t there that night (Carsten Klemann), prompting them to shut down the upper floor. As we entered, Nick Höppner was spinning, and later Lee Jones took over the decks, both of whom are the other two members of MyMy.
Also, Exercise One took the stage for a one-hour live set around 3am, which I found OK, but not terribly exciting. The set was a bit “square” techno…it lacked some of the housey swing that I like in my microhouse-style techno.
We alternated between dancing in the lower “Waterfloor” and standing around on the deck until maybe around 5h30. This lower level has an all-glass wall that overlooks the river, so once I had been able to see the sun rise over the river while dancing, I was satisfied and headed home.