The LGBT Community in Berlin
Berlin is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities and a gay-friendly city. Queer culture here is pretense-free and very much an integral part of daily life. Instead of a dedicated ‘gayborhood’ Berlin has various stomping grounds, primarily in historical Schöneberg, alternative Kreuzberg and laid-back Prenzlauer Berg. But trendy Mitte, creative Kreuzberg and Neukölln and student neighbourhood Friedrichshain also have plenty in store for the community. The nightlife is famously liberal and devoid of snobbery, with often blurred boundaries between gay, lesbian and straight venues. From disco to techno, ballroom to darkroom, sneaker boys to leather daddies – Berlin has a scene to match everyone’s taste, 24/7.
‘Rainbow Village’ Schöneberg
The area around Nollendorfplatz has been a gay mecca since the 1920s. This is where men met at the Eldorado, a famous watering hole also favored by local gals Marlene Dietrich and Claire Waldorff. Another Schöneberg resident was Christopher Isherwood, whose novella Berlin Stories form the basis of the film and musical Cabaret. Pay homage to him at his former residence at Nollendorfstraße 17.
Rainbow flags are ubiquitous in Schöneberg where gay-owned businesses range from boutiques to restaurants and book stores. The Lesbisch-Schwules Straßenfest (Lesbigay Street Festival) is an essential event during Pride Month in June and a warm-up for Christopher Street Day. In September, Folsom Europe draws the international leather and fetish community.
Many bars and pubs in Schöneberg are considered institutions. Case in point: the retro-flavored Café Berio whose sidewalk tables are the perfect people-watching perch. HarDie’s Kneipe is another neighborhood favorite. Foodies should book a table at More a designer nosh spot that serves meals from morning to night. More rustic cuisine is on the menu at the cozy Raststätte Gnadenbrot.
Although younger gays tend to prefer other neighborhoods, Kreuzberg especially, for flirting and partying, there’s still plenty happening in Schöneberg, especially along Motzstraße and Fuggerstraße. Perennially packed places for kicking off a night on the razzle include the all-comers Hafen and the modish lounge Heile Welt. Prinzknecht gets kudos for its outrageous theme parties. Girls, meanwhile, gravitate to Begine for dance parties and cultural events.
A classic cruising spot is Tom’s Bar, which draws a good mix of locals and Berlin visitors. Connection is another crowd magnet; here patrons rock the dance floor or get lost in the giant cruising labyrinth. Mutschmanns and New Action exert their pull on the fetish crowd, which is especially strong in Schöneberg.
Berlin – the first city with a comprehensive LGTB concept
Berlin is an open-minded city and one of the leading gay travel destinations. The hotel network pink pillow Berlin Collection, which focuses specifically on queer tourists, is a unique initiative of visitBerlin and city-wide hotels. Currently more than 50 hotels in Berlin stand for gay-friendly accommodations. The pink pillow Berlin Collection will be gradually expanded by other hotels. A current overview of the participating hotels and more information can be found on pinkpillow-berlin.com.
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