Santa photo by Dan Century (DanCentury; Flickr CC)
If you’re planning a staycation of the holidays (either for economic reasons or mental preservation), there's no need to pretend to indulge in Christmas clichés. A lot of us here in Berlin don’t have to worry about impending familial drunken outrage (although, admit it – it can be funny) and Christmas disappointments. No, here in Berlin we deck the halls in 4/4 beats, group trips to the toilets and the occasional camera pose – all while pretending Christmas was put upon us, not the other way around.
WARM-UP FOR WEIHNACHT!
To kick off Christmas, you’re going to need a proper Christmas hangover. And who better to help with that then the Russians? Wladimir Kaminer became the guarantee for wild parties for (or against?) the Russische Seele in Berlin. On Christmas Eve the author, dramaturge, radio DJ, columnist and now also future mayor candidate Kaminer will have a reading of his works and present Byelorussian partisan songs.
After the more subdued festivities, the Christmas edition of the famous Russendisko will heat the scene. Whether Gypsy punk or klezmer ska, the Russian songs will have everyone chanting “Nasdrovia” on the dance floor of the Roter Salon. Forget the boring Glühwein, knock back the Vodka!
And everyone claims that they’re searching for a jingle bell- and mistletoe-free Christmas (Eve) party, but if you really are searching in earnest maybe you should just seek out the sleek retro of the Swingin’ Sixties. And there’s hardly a better place in town to do that then Bassy Cowboy Club in Prenzl’berg.
So put on your “too-perfect-to-be-vintage” jeans and your favorite celebration spurs and go for a barn dance. But don’t expect cowboy tunes. Everything from garage rock over smooth funk to deep soul by the Santa’s for the night, DJ team Stroko & Kammer will be played instead. The overall theme should be danceable as hell. So if you’re up for the task, fetch your horse – it might also be a safer way to explore the Berlin nightlife than by bike, especially during our flash blizzards.
During the daytime (if you’re not in bed), you can walk off that hangover by visiting some Berlin’s museums – all at regular admission price. On Christmas Day, the Pergamon Museum, Neues Museum, Altes Museum, Bode Museum, Alte Nationale Gallerie and the Friedrichswerdersche Kirche will be open with regular Saturday hours. (They’re open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, too – Sunday hours.)
Get your fill of silver and gold at the Museum of Decorative Arts or at the Bode Museum, where the current special exhibition Gold Giants displays gold coins from around the world – including “Big Phil” and “Million Dollar Coin” – the world’s largest and heaviest coins, respectively. The Pergamon Museum’s Glass, Handle with Care, an exhibition of glass craft work originating from 700 to 2010, will be closing in early January. And, of course, it’s about time you got to the Neues Museum to see the 11 recently unearthed Degenerate Art pieces.
You can find more information on the museums and where they are in our Museum Directory.
For the big, traditional Santa bag (at least in terms of Berlin) on Christmas complete with treats and beats, Alexander Ridha AKA Boys Noize, (who doesn’t really need an introduction to the Berlin Festive Youth-crowd hanging out at Maria), headlines a flamboyant Christmas rave at Maria. Besides the little Berlin-treasure, the ever-present Peaches (who has given plenty to Berlin already this year) will be there to ignite the dance floor with her electro DJ set that may even hold some surprises. Doesn’t she always?
The rest of the nine act line-up includes French electro/hip hopper Feadz from Ed Banger Records, who had something to do with getting everyone to sing along to the songs of French duo Justice some years back. He’s also been pressing buttons for Mr. Oizo and Uffie as well as working freelance for bpitchcontrol.
But Christmas changes people and maybe you’re not up for the usual. It can be the type of day where hard-edged tattooed punks stop dead in their snow tracks, fawning over Adventskränze, breaking into refrains from "O Tannenbaum" and clicking their heels in Dinner for One-fashion – “Same procedure as every year, James.” On the other hand, normally cheerful EXBERLINERs can develop a bitter demeanor, secretly waxing for the seedier side of life, something with deceit and treachery, something with a little gangster flair.
So this Christmas Tape Club’s Casino Capone Depot is really the hideout. The party starts at 21:00, providing ample time to fulfill family obligations beforehand, and making the first shot of whiskey all the more sweet. Roulette tables, poker tables and heady hands of Blackjack, played with enough animosity and intrigue to instigate a scuffle. It’s like St. Valentine’s Day (think massacre), only it’s Christmas. If anyone can create a fantasy setting, it’s Tape’s set-designers.
If none of this so far is weird enough for you or invokes the make-up and painful boots one comes to crave in the center of European international nightlife, a Happy Fucking Christmas Massacre will give you an opportunity to let that mascara run. The degenerates at Ware House are daringly putting on the second installment of their new club on Christmas, totally banking on the fact that some of us would rather that Bianca Fox be our mother than our real ones. And they're probably right.
Still very Berlin, but a bit more low-key, B-Lage, hidden in Neukölln, is the perfect way to grab on to some Berlin “post-tourist tourism” authenticity. With seating that'll send you straight back into the snug comfort of your grandparent's living-room (hopefully the ones you that didn’t make you cringe) and a crowd from across the globe.
Replacing Aunty and Bing Crosby's usual cacophony will be damo.uroc on the decks, delivering the minimal house that'll get the congregation rising like no church choir could ever dare to dream. Forget the unfinished game of the Christmas' edition of Monopoly and get in a few rounds of some of that good ol' fashioned kicker.
But if none of this stuff appeals to your inner Cindy Lou Who and you’re still feeling like a Grinch then there’s always meditating right through the holiday with the Buddhists. Das Buddhistische Haus is open on Christmas (why wouldn’t they be? They’re Buddhists.)