Photo by Karolina Spolniewski
“When Germans meet Poles, there is tension. But when you meet Polish losers, it’s relaxed,” laughs Piotr Mordel. Fifteen years ago nearly to this day (September 2001), the 55-year-old co-founded Mitte’s Club der Polnischen Versager (“Polish losers’ club”) along with a group of Polish friends who, like him, had no experience running a bar. “We were six people. We weren’t successful, we had no jobs.” He’s overstating that a bit – since fleeing communist Poland for Berlin in 1988, Mordel had already started a German-Polish publishing company, Mordellus Press, and a short-lived literary journal, Kolano. But he still felt like an outsider here, and wanted a space where fellow misfits and layabouts would feel welcome.
Apparently, so did everyone else in Mitte at the time. The ramshackle club became a staple of the early-2000s Torstraße nightlife scene, along with neighbouring Kaffee Burger’s “Russendisko” nights. Though originally Mordel thought only Poles would attend, he estimates some 20,000 people from all over the world have visited the club over its illustrious history, which he and cofounder Adam Gusowski commemorated in their 2012 book Club der Polnischen Versager.
Now relocated to Ackerstraße in the same building as ex-squat Schokoladen, the club continues to host Polish concerts, film screenings and reading nights along with, well, whatever – a recent Saturday night saw a gathering of the Japanese queer scene. They’re currently trying to crowdfund some renovations (sorely needed, as anyone who’s visited the caving-in downstairs smoking room can attest) and gearing up for their 15th birthday blowout on September 3.
Celebrate Club der Polnischen Versager’s 15th anniversary on Saturday, Sep 3 at 20:00!