Kater Holzig: A Fairy Tale

It was a cold and rainy Sunday morning and Zach and I were standing in front of Kater Holzig.

"We'll never get in," griped Zach for, like, the 12th time.

"We're not waiting to get in," I hissed. "We're waiting for someone to show up with weed."

"What do you think is gonna happen," Zach asked. "That they're just gonna just stop here and say, 'Hey, here you go, have a spliff'?"

"With a little luck," I said, forcing a smile. Zach just rolled his eyes and said, "There's nobody here." He was right. The queue held a pair of nerdy tourists, nervously eyeing the herd of bouncers that was shouldering one another by the club's gate. Eventually, the pair got up the nerve to ask the dominant bouncer when they would be able to get in. The bouncer thought about it a few seconds and then replied, "Not today." Crestfallen, the nerds meekly turned around and left. Zach held his hands over the flaming oil barrel between us, furrowing his brow like a weary protestor who was settling in for the long haul. Which gave me an idea.

"Let's Occupy Kater Holzig!"

"What?" Zach utterly failed to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

"Yeah! This place is the fucking Wall Street of the Berlin club scene. And we are the 99 percent that, er, can’t afford to get in." Zach rolled his eyes again but I could see a repressed smile behind his gloomy facade.

"Zach, listen: we'll wait until we have a big enough crowd of Kater Holzig rejects, and then... and then we can storm the club and blag free joints off everybody!" My laughter sounded over-the-top even to me, but that was because I had just spotted a bouncer reclining on the fashionable leather sofa by the club's door, reading Love in the Time of War in the rain. He seemed blissfully unaware of the uprising that was taking shape right here, in this very queue.

Zach and I continued debating (well maybe 'arguing' is the better word) about whether we should hang around in the squat-club's muddy yard any longer. He wanted to go back to the derelict beach at Kiki Blofeld, next door, where we'd been hanging out since sunrise. I argued that it was hard to get in beach-babe mode with a light drizzle falling on my head and besides, Kater Holzig had this fantastic flaming barrel to keep us warm.

After a while, I felt someone's finger tap my shoulder and heard a voice asking, in German-accented English, “Excuse me, are you waiting to go in?” I turned around and saw a line of frightened-looking clubbers stretching behind me like so many sinners awaiting Judgement Day. In their quest to look well-behaved for the bouncers, they had been queuing patiently behind me and Zach for god-only-knows how long, having assumed that we were waiting to get in. They'd probably overheard every last word of our debate, which had by now devolved into a a discussion about space dogs (don't ask).

“Em, no, we are not queuing,” I explained. “Actually, we’re here from the Occupy movement. We're occupying Kater Holzig in order to - hey, wait a minute! Where are you going?” The young man who had tapped my shoulder was hurrying past me impatiently, waving to his three friends for them to follow… and follow quickly, before our blatant inability to conform dashed their chances of getting past the bouncers.

Another 20 minutes passed. The queue grew and shrank as the door staff moderated the flow of people, trying to maintain an illusion of busyness at what sounded like a fairly dead party. At one point, the DJ played a song I liked and I started to dance, to the amusement of the door staff.

"When are you guys coming in?" one asked tiredly.

"When you let us in for free."

"Not going to happen."

"We'll just wait for the uprising, then," I smiled. The bouncer blinked at me and then shrugged, as if to say, 'suit yourselves.'

Zach started to complain about the weather, so I tried to distract him by telling him that he reminded me of one of the characters from the Wire (his favourite show). This impressed him for all of about two and a half minutes. Then it was: “I’m cold," and "What the fuck are we doing here?” all over again.

With Zach's frustration getting ever more palpable, I decided to take action: I began wandering the length the queue and asking people if they had anything to smoke. The second person I asked started to reach into his jacket but then paused.

"Are you working at the club?” When I said no, he whipped his hand back out of his jacket and shook his head brusquely. Whingeing loudly about the lack of solidarity on the front lines, I returned to Zach. I dreaded seeing the look on his face when I explained that I had come back empty-handed but lo and behold, he was deep in conversation with a woman who was also warming her hands over the flaming oil barrel. He was even laughing for a change. The woman was wearing a punky outfit and had long, wild black hair. Her state was best characterized as ‘agitated’.

When there was a break in their conversation I asked, “Who’s the new friend?”

Zach cocked an eyebrow at the woman inquisitively and burred, "Didn’t catch your name."

"Helga," the woman replied. Her expression was hovering somewhere between happiness and sheer terror so I asked if she was okay.

"I had two tickets last night," she explained.

"What are tickets?"

"Tickets to ride," she said.

"As in, taking a trip," clarified Zach.

"Ah... welcome to the club!" I said and hugged her. Helga chewed her lip piercing and grinned manically, by way of reply. She carried on: “I also had that Mandy punch at [here, she mentioned the name of another club] last night."

"No way, they had punch? We wanted to go there!" I lamented. "Zach, I told you we should have gone there!"

"No you didn't," he protested. And actually, he was right. I had only thought about telling him. (Note to self: must speak thoughts aloud in future).

"What time is it?" Helga asked suddenly.

"Um," I looked at my phone. "It's 10:15."

"Shit," Helga said. "Shit, shit, shit."

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"The bouncer who starts working at 10:00 - he hates me. He threw me out of the fucking club last week."

"Why? What did you do?"

"I was really drunk," Helga confessed.

"Aw, that’s nothing," I said, waving a hand. "I fell over last time I was inside."

"I may have kind of scratched his face, as well," added Helga. "And maybe I screamed at him a little bit, too... and punched him... kicked his chair over..." Helga was starting to sound like the ideal recruit for Occupy Kater Holzig! She was staring at the club entrance now, looking ready to bolt - whether towards the club or away from it, I couldn't tell.

"I have to try to get in," she muttered to herself, "and fast. Before he gets here." She hesitated for what seemed like 15 minutes before walking towards the club’s entrance. Just then, an enormous, dark-skinned man in a bouncer’s outfit emerged from the club and stood in front of the door.

"Shit, that’s him!" Helga squealed, skittering back towards us. "Now I can’t go inside for sure! Shit!"

"Aw, that’s a shame," I said. But secretly, I was pleased that we'd recruited our first party reject. "Say, you don’t happen to have any weed, do you?" I asked Helga. She nodded.

Zach and I beamed. The day was looking brighter already.


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