I arrived in wintery Berlin beaten and bruised-hearted.
I’m on my sixth month of gypsiness around the world. This is by choice, so I would never dare to complain about it, but sleeping on sofas and being jobless whilst processing a brutal breakup is getting somewhat rough.
But Berlin’s nightlife shifted my moods and softly helped me reopen to life.
I was invited to a Russian Disco themed party on Saturday night. It was organised by the tenants of a communal building, typical alternative Berlin life style. They had turned the top floor into a genuine USSR flashback. There was a body search performed by officers in uniform to access the premises. I got stamped with a red star on my left hand and got in. The event reminded me of the Brighton-based performance group Duckie. A band of fake Pussy Riots was playing. DIY Orthodox icons, ice skaters and Matrioshkas frames were hanging on the walls. Someone put a communist hat on my head and that was it, the spirit of the East was in me. I danced till 4am. God! It saved my life. I felt deeply happy and full of perspectives again for the first time in months. A guy much younger than me came to me and put a drink in my hand saying he had been watching me dancing. He was cuuuute. He flirted with me all night and I remembered that people will like me again.
I went to bed at 5am on Sunday and made my way alone to the Berghain at tea time. The Berghain is Berlin’s most mythic club. It’s located in a Stalinian building which used to be a power station near a wasteland. It’s reputed to have the best techno and electro sound in the world. It’s also famous for its entrance policy: not everyone gets in and nobody knows what the selection is based upon. The Berghain has legendary back-rooms and a very particular atmosphere inside. There’s barely no light, no mirrors in the bathrooms, no photos allowed, and the most admitted outfit is of BDSM tendency together with football socks and Doc Martens shoes.
I didn’t wear any of this but still managed to get in after queuing ten minutes, but everyone seemed to get in that day. I paid 16€ and got a stamp that said “Faggot” on my right hand. With the red star that remained on my left hand, my hands were saying “Communist Faggot”, aka “I had a great Berlin weekend”.
I only stayed couple of hours inside, I was wandering around the different floors and spaces to observe people’s style and vibe. There was a lot of charismatic creatures like I love. I felt good by myself. Only one person talked to me. He asked:
“Do you like beer?
– Do you like cocaine?
He gave up on me. I laughed and I danced alone in the small room with hundreds of strangers. The music was really great, even the Kylie Minogue remix. I was relieved that I was able to be happy alone in a crowd. I felt my heart pumping and my blood running faster.
Dancing saved my life again. When I walked out of the club, I found an authentic 70s disco ball vintage top on the street. The universe loves party girls.
Someone once said in front of me that they got a “more authentic life” once they stopped partying. What a silly thing to say. Why would partying be superficial?
I totally consider that partying can be a spiritual practice. I have never done drugs in my whole life and I don’t even drink much these days. It’s all about the human encounters and burning the dance floor in liberating outfits. You can be the quintessence of yourself for an ephemeral moment, and there’s infinite truth in that.
The dance floor is where people reveal themselves. It unlocks moments of realness. It triggers epiphanies. It’s always been my way to find redemption and feel alive again. When everything else goes wrong, I know the dance will take me back to the present moment and provide me flashes of pure joy.
At the Russian Disco, there was a guy in a wheelchair on the dance floor. He stayed for a long time. People were dancing with him. It was great to watch.
I’ll never forget one of my most beautiful dance floor moments. It was in Lisbon, in 2012. I was visiting the city alone and was living up the night life, the best I’ve experienced. I went to dance at the Finalmente, the only drag show club in Portugal. The crowd was all gay men. We were only two or three girls. I spotted a very short man in his early 50s, wearing an elegant shirt. I noticed him cause he looked like my former economy teacher in high school. I started observing him. He was dancing his heart off with closed eyes. He was so dedicated. He seemed alone in the world. He didn’t pay the slightest attention to people around him. He moved me to the core cause he was so present to himself and there was something nostalgic about him. I made up a whole story about his life in my head: he was coming from a village far from the capital and couldn’t assume his gayness till a very advanced age. People had been picking on him all his life. He finally moved to Lisbon to be himself, and was finding his way and salvation dancing every night at the Finalmente. But he was still closing his eyes not to read any judgement in people’s glances just yet. He would dance with open eyes some day soon.
I still have his expression of realness printed in my memory. This is when I realised the deep therapeutic powers of the dance floor and gained eternal respect for its benefits.
I’m leaving Berlin in two days. Spring has arrived in the meantime. I know I’ll end up living here.