After a relatively long night of partying, I slept in until about 13h00 and then got to work. I stumbled down to the lounge in the hotel and bought a crappy coffee and a KitKat bar, and then went back up to my room. I spent the next couple of hours blogging and answering emails.
By about 17h00 I had taken care of everything and by 18h00 I was showered and changed and out walking around. Erika was also in Berlin this weekend, a friend from Canada who is in the same program as I at the University of Chicago. She was in town with her boyfriend, and the two of them were staying with a classmate of her boyfriend and his wife. All four of them were out on the town getting the girls’ hair cut, so they told me to meet them for dinner around 20h00.
I had some time to kill, so I decided to try visiting this language-learning exhibition going on in Mitte. I was starving, as it was 18h00 and I hadn’t eaten anything all day—except a KitKat bar and some coffee. So when I got off the Friedrichstraße S-Bahn stop, I decided to look for some quick food in the sizeable mall attached to the station.
I came across a Leberkäse stand, which intrigued me. “Leber” usually stands for “liver” and “Käse” stands for cheese, but as far as I could tell this Bavarian dish involved a large meatloaf. When I ordered one serving, the guy carved a huge, 1cm-thick piece of this massive meatloaf, stuffed it into a far too small bun, and then jammed some sauerkraut on top.
The Leberkäs tasted alright, but the sheer density of all that meat and sauerkraut nearly killed me. I was all sluggish and crampy, so I walked it off as I went along Friedrichstraße. I eventually found the exhibition I was looking for, only to discover that it was in the process of closing. Ah well, maybe tomorrow.
I took a tour around Gendarmenmarkt and then dropped into the nearest U-Bahn stop and headed toward Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg. From there, I walked along a main street towards Wittbergplatz and the KaDeWe department store (Kaufhaus des Westens). I reasoned that, in a city where stores tend to close very early, a large department store and tourist destination like KaDeWe was likely to stay open later.
I wandered around various sections of the store, spending a lot of time in the book sections and the food sections. Of course, I bought a ton of gourmet chocolate. I also saw the greatest thing I think I have ever seen: a Karl Lagerfeld teddy bear by Steiff. It’s 1000€ (of course), but it’s a hilariously accurate imitation of Lagerfeld’s style.
I finally got a call from Erika and her crew, and she gave me directions to the restaurant, called Manouche. It turns out that it’s a sort of crêperie / bar along Grimmstraße in the corner of Kreuzberg near my old neighborhood. I was rather glad that we were eating late (it was nearly 21h00 when we sat down), because that Leberkäs had taken a long time to digest.
Nonetheless, we all ate very well at the restaurant, each ordering a set of galettes (savoury crêpes) and dessert crêpes. The staff were entirely French in origin, it seemed, so ordering dinner involved a mixture of French, German and English. Their crêpes were all named after songs and the menu was written on music manuscript paper, with the ingredients written between the staves of music like lyrics. It was a cute idea, although a pain in the ass to read.
We also went through 3 bottles of red wine, so by the time we left the restaurant, we were all a bit buzzed. It was nearly midnight when we left and headed home, and I had a date with another friend to go to Watergate tonight at around 1h00, so I headed back to my hotel, freshened up, dropped off my shopping purchases, and then headed right back out.
Diynamic Night @ Watergate
I managed to catch a cab after walking a few blocks, and I arrived at the club while the line was relatively short. I jumped in line and fired off a text message to my friend.
She arrived a few minutes later, with two young Italians in tow. Apparently, they had stopped her on the street to ask her where Watergate was, and she just told them to come with her. Anyway, she knew the bouncer, so she considered asking the bouncer to let us directly into the library, but there were only 10 people ahead of us in line, so she decided it wasn’t worth calling in a favor to him. The group ahead of us got turned away at the door, but the same bouncer took one look at my friend, asked, “How many are you?” and then waved us all in. I don’t know if the two Italian guys that she had brought along realized that there was a good chance that they wouldn’t have made it into the club without her company.
When we first got inside, the main floor wasn’t open, so we were more than a bit disappointed. However, after about an hour of hanging out in the lower-level WaterFloor, we noticed that the dance floor suddenly cleared out and my friend saw people going upstairs. We headed up and saw that the main room was finally open. Yay! Watergate’s famous wrap-around LED panel (click on "Gallery" for pictures) is as beautiful as ever.
These two DJs are both signed to the Diynamic label (one of them is the label manager, I think) and it seemed like they were assigned to provide all of the “filler” for the evening. They started off the evening with a 3.5-hour set, then they provided 30 minutes of music between the two main live sets of the evening, and then they continued spinning after the final live set.
Their sound was pretty solid minimal, but more minimal house than minimal techno. The tempo was a bit slow for techno and had a more open, relaxed feel. It was definitely good and they made good use of the sort of rolling basslines that I am so fond of, but I was increasingly eager to hear the next act.
3h30-4h30: Isolée live
Isolée has made some very beautiful and melodic minimal techno, but his sound tends to be very atmospheric and downtempo, often blurring the boundaries between minimal techno and ambient/lounge music. All of this, in the end, makes for a lackluster live set, especially in the context of a high-intensity Berlin nightclub. It was still quite lovely music, but it felt out of place in the headliner slot at 3h30.
4h30-5h00: Solomun & H.O.S.H.
I’m not quite sure why they needed to provide 30 minutes of filler music here. I imagine the next act could’ve started at 4h30 instead of 5h00, especially since they both had their gear already set up on opposite ends of the stage / DJ booth. Nonetheless, it was a good opportunity to grab a drink and claim a better spot on the dancefloor.
So this was the guy I came here to see. I listened to the podcast he made for Resident Advisor last July and LOVED it, and then I saw him perform at the end of August and also loved it. This set was also lovely, although it wasn’t consistently solid throughout.
Stimming structured his set by “songs”—that is, by the tracks and remixes that he have released recently. Obviously, since it was a live set, he manipulated the elements from each song to create something a bit different, but nonetheless the progression live set went from one recognizable track to another.
He was smart enough to start with his strong tracks, opening with “Safari” and passing through his current hit, “Una Pena.” From there, he went through a few other tracks of his that have become well-known. He then passed through a series of tracks that were less exciting and somewhat generic-sounding. This low period in the set lasted too long, and the crowd started to thin out.
Near the end of the set, however, he (very wisely) returned to some intense and exciting tracks, finishing with a bang. The crowd went wild and demanded an encore, and so he played for another 10 minutes or so before handing it over to the next DJs. Although the pacing of the set wasn’t perfect, it was a significant improvement on his set from this past August, and it was miles better than Isolée’s set earlier tonight.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, by 2009, he’s going to be headlining on a lot of world tour destinations. This guy’s music is good, and his live performance skills are improving every time I see him.
6h30-???: Solomun and H.O.S.H.
They’re back! These two guys took over the reins again and presumably played until the end of the night, although I didn’t hang out much longer. I grabbed a drink to refresh myself, said goodbye to the folks I knew that were still straggling about, and then I headed out and caught a taxi home.