vendredi, mars 06, 2009

Shopping, Won-Tons, Golden Gate, PanoramaBar

After a pretty crazy week, the most delicious luxury of today was sleeping in. Mmm, slumber-gasmic!

So Florian was actually planning to leave Berlin for Holland early Saturday morning, so he had a few errands to run today. As he dashed off to take care of that, I showered, changed, “read the Internet” (a phrase I’m borrowing from Florian) and caught up a bit on correspondence and blogging. At around 13h30 or 14h00, Florian called to say that he was done with his errands, and we arranged to meet at a café called Ciao di Berlino, at the corner of Wichertstraße and Greifhagener Straße. The food was pretty decent, involving standard “healthy” German soups and pesto-heavy Italian sandwiches. I had the “organic red beet soup,” which was tasty, but it also terrified me with its clothes-staining qualities.

The décor, however, was adorable. The main seating area had a silhouette of a green landscape running around the room at eye level, with little details like lakes with ships, bridges, and so on. On the far wall, around the doorway that led to the next seating area, was a massive print of a snowy mountain peak descending into grassy hills. All of the seats had pillows with silhouettes of forest animals silk-screened onto the corner. Anyway, it was cute.


*girlish squeal*

After lunch, we hit the nearby Asian market to buy the ingredients for Vietnamese summer rolls to take to a won-ton potluck party tonight. My knowledge of Asian cuisine can be pretty spotty, but one thing I’ve come to make with some skill are those delicious non-fried rice-paper rolls. Mmm.

From there I left Florian to return home and pack his bags, while I headed out for a bit of shopping. Well actually, we both stopped in a trashy dollar-store near the U-Bahn stop first, where we found these awesome felt coasters with silhouettes of teapots and apples and wine bottles. So cute! And only 0.65€.

My plan was to just do some window-shopping, but that didn’t last. The fashion in designer shops here is a lot more modern and brightly-coloured than what I find in Paris, and the prices are generally lower (although not cheap). Anyway, I apparently left my self-control at home. I think I also managed to rationalize the minor spending spree with the fact that I’ve barely done any shopping in Paris in these past 6 months or so.

I bought a pair of jeans at Hummel that were dark denim with bright violet contrast stitching. They were the display pair, so I managed to get a 10% discount. Yay!

In the store 2 doors down, I picked up this adorable sweater that had three stripes in a V-shape across the chest. The sweater itself was powder blue, and the stripes were violet, blue and turquoise. Very hott.

Finally, I stopped in this store called O.K. that sells odd and brightly-coloured items often made from recycled materials and from developing countries (i.e., coin purses woven from candy wrappers). I got a couple of gifts for people back home (no details! They might be reading) and then decided that I better head home before I do any more damage to my financial situation.

Dinner: Won-Ton Hoedown in Charlottenburg

After getting home and showing off my stuff to Florian (who was kind enough to my approving noises) I assembled the summer rolls and we got ready to head out for the won-ton party.

We headed over to the apartment of these friends of Florian, a couple that live in a MASSIVE apartment in Charlottenburg for 400€ / month. Seriously. They had this beautiful apartment with high ceilings, an office, a parlor and a bedroom, along with a massive bathroom and a similarly large kitchen. I swear, this thing was easily 1000 sq.ft (92m2) As is usual, all of my time in Berlin is spent in rabid jealously of people’s apartments. Sigh.

Anyway, the meal was great. We fried up the wontons right there at the table, gorged ourselves on all the other dishes that people had brought, and drank a lot of wine. There was some discussion of ceviche recipes, Paris, and what goes on in darkrooms at Berghain. I plead innocence to introducing the last topic, which was actually brought up by a straight guy (or, at least, heterosexually-partnered) who had a surprisingly intimate knowledge of the sleazier side of Berghain. Hooray for Berlin.

Things a got a bit blurrier as the meal went on (there was a fair bit of wine), but I do recall that at some point someone had the great idea of making wontons filled with Nutella and bananas. Then someone tried the same thing with nectarines and blue cheese. They were pretty damn good, I must say. Well worth a try at my place one of these days…

By 1h00 or so, almost everyone else had left and I was getting messages from my Frenchy crew (Fantômette and the rest) saying that they were done dinner and heading off to a club in their area. So I made my goodbyes and wandered my way back to the S-Bahn stop to head into Kreuzberg.

André Crom @ Golden Gate (club)

On the train over to the first club, I get a call from Fantô saying that they couldn’t find the club, so instead they were going to go to Golden Gate, which just happened to be near where my train was at the moment.

So I got off and headed over to the club, which is under the S-Bahn tracks near Jannowitzbrücke. It’s actually literally built in under the tracks, which is kind of neat; I imagine that it had been a storage area or something before. The club itself was sort of small, dark, almost entirely of brick and a bit grimy. Just like I like it. It was almost like someone’s apartment, with the first room (dancefloor) sort of the size of a salon, the second room (bar) the size of a bedroom, and then some bathrooms upstairs.

There was an outdoor area for smoking and chilling out, which involved a bunch of beat-up couches and armchairs with blankets, covered by a series of tents. It was nice out there, but a bit too cold. There were a number of DJs playing that night, but the one spinning while we were there was André Crom. Good, solid techno, although also not very exciting. Fantô pointed out that the tracks that he releases are very minimal and finely wrought, while what he was doing tonight was a heavy-handed pounding techno set.

The crowd was almost exclusively local Germans, which was cool as well. It was nice to discover a new location, after many weekends of visiting the same 2 or 3 clubs recently. Even this summer, I tended to go to a certain circuit of clubs, including especially Berghain/Panorama, Watergate, Club der Visionäre and Bar25.

By approx 4h00, Fantô and crew had had enough and they split. Although they were heading home to crash, I still had plans to meet my London-based Frenchy friends, Bob and Donna over at Panorama Bar. I hung around for a little while longer, and then got my jacket and headed off. Panorama Bar isn’t too far from Golden Gate, so I headed over on foot and stopped at a gas station on the way for a bag of chips to soak up some of the alcohol.

Get Perlonized night @ Panorama Bar

I got to Panorama Bar at around 5h or 5h30, so I apparently missed the Half Hawaii (the collaborative project of Sammy Dee and Bruno Pronsato) live set. I’m fine with that, since I heard a bit of them at mutek last year and wasn’t impressed.

There wasn’t much of a line at the door and I got in pretty quickly. The American bouncer, Mike, was checking bags and he gave me a full soul handshake, including that whole shoulder-to-shoulder half-hug thing. Yay! Nobody does soul shakes in Europe, so it sort of reminded me of home in a nostalgic way. Later that night, a French girl I had just met would gush at the fact that I did the bise ritual (air kisses on both cheeks) with her before leaving. “Je me sens chez moi!” (I feel at home!) she said, complaining that Germans never do the kissy-kissy thing (not true, in my experience, but they certainly do it less).

I found Bob & Donna and we spent some time catching up and chatting. Vincent Lemieux was spinning (apparently a Canuck) whose set involved some nice minimal house, but with some vocal-house tracks that I liked less. Later in the morning, around 8 or so, Sammy Dee got on the decks for a while and kicked out an excellent series of punchy, dry and yet bass-heavy tracks.

Sometime at around 8h00 or so, I had this massive wave of nausea and I had to sit in a corner and fan myself out of a cold sweat. I’m not one to feel nauseous for nothing, so I took it seriously and got off the dance floor. Bob was nice enough to come check on me, but there wasn’t much to do other than wait for it to pass. Once it passed, I was feeling much better, but tired and with a bit of a headache.

They had finished with the renovations of the bathrooms at Pano (mentioned briefly in my last visit), which were pretty neat. They had one big set of bathrooms with plenty of stalls and new, clean-looking tiles and metal toilets and so on (of course, it didn’t stay clean very long, but the design was pretty hygiene-oriented). They lowered the ceilings on the toilets (which had been two stories, like the rest of the club) and then put in a mezzanine above it with couches for sitting around. It was a really nice idea, although Bob was right to point out that it was a mistake to break through the wall into the dance floor and put a little balcony there. While it gave a great view over the crowd, it allowed the sound to spill into the next room, which made it harder to talk there. Also, on Saturday night, I would discover that the mezzanine allows drunk/high people to spray the crowd below with their drinks.

At some point near the smoking area, I make friends with another very friendly German dude (this is something of a pattern: I walk through the Berghain smoking area, some talkative German guy makes friends with me). He starts by asking me if I have any cigarettes, and then we spend the next few minutes chatting about where we’re from, how hard it is to learn a new language, and so on. At some point, two other guys that he doesn’t seem to know pass by and ask for a lighter. In return, one of the guys passes out some Menthos candies, which made me think of those absurd “Menthos, full of life!” commercials, and that made me chuckle. I bet they weren’t thinking of Berghain at 8am when they made those commercials. Anyway, they got talking and I wanted to go dance, so I said goodbye and disappeared.

Later that evening, Bob introduced me a German friend of his, who told me that he works in music. He’s a sound engineer, but he also makes music. When I asked what kind, he told me that, although he’s straight, he’s developed a gay rapper persona that raps about gay sex in clubs in German-inflected English. I would’ve thought he was joking, if he hadn’t started freestyling for me right there. That shit cracked me the fuck up. In response, all I could say was, “Geil” (sexy). I’ll have to ask Bob for his website, because his work needs to be exposed to the world.

At around 8h30 or so, I finally decided to throw in the towel and head home. On the way out, Mike gave me another soul shake, so I felt like a bouncer-knowing, club-getting-into badass. w00t!

I stopped at the kebab place near the Ostbahnhof station and forced myself to eat a kebab, thinking that a bit of food might settle my stomach, although I was already feeling better.

The train ride home was a bit complicated, mostly due to the fact that I thought I would catch the M1 tram from Hackescher Markt, which would bring me a few blocks closer to home than the U2. However, the northbound stop for the M1 at Hackescher Markt is in a rather non-obvious place, which required walking around the neighborhood for a bit and following the tram tracks. Anyway, I got home, peeled off my clothes, and got into bed.

Oh, by the way: I was breaking in my new jeans tonight and I totally forgot that dark-wash jeans have a lot of indigo dye in them when you first buy them. Every couple of hours, I had to wash the blue dye off my hands. Hah.

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