20.5.16

Summer Preview 2016: Time to Dance!

From the "Time To Dance" series by streetartist SOBR

Here in Berlin, it's always "Time to Dance"... even if you're just waiting at the tram stop at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, and even if you're eyeing your bank account's minus-balance on a graffiti-covered cash machine screen at midnight.  After all, just because the party's ended doesn't mean your buzz has to.

The season when it becomes most evident that the beat never stops in Berlin is in the summer, when a series of street parties and festivals acts the main stage, turning the swollen ranks of the clubbing network into mere after-party and pre-party stop-offs on the way back to the great urban outdoors.   

And now that we've gotten past the most over-hyped outdoor parade of the year (not naming any names here but it rhymes with "barnacle of vultures." Sort of. If you're drunk.) it's time for the REAL outdoor party season to begin. From now on, the only place to be, assuming you're not lying prone in the openair section of some club, is a festival, street party or parade.  Here are the best ones I've been to... I hope that you'll try them and make you feel the same way!

Zuruck Zu Den Wurzeln Festival, June 9th-12th

This festival was meant to take place in Berlin, but due to authorization probs it is now taking place near the Baltic Sea... but I've included it anyway since it should be good.  This 'secret forest' party by Berlin's longest-running, still-active free party crew should be fun, silly, beautiful and hard in equal measures.  Expect chillout, techno and psy music of all stripes.  Also, expect a family-style welcome from the crew.  And expect to not want to leave! At 85.00 Euros per camping ticket for 4 days it's pretty reasonably priced too.

Fete de la Musique/Fete de la Nuit, June 21-22nd

Fete de la Musique is a festival concept that Berlin pinched from Paris and Lille, but Berlin seems to do it just as well as its French rivals do. Basically FdlM is a one-day open-air concert on the longest day of the year that sprawls across much of the city.  Or, to be more precise, it is a series of small concerts, most of which are free,  and most of which happen in the streets.  The areas where the air will be thickest with tunage will be Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain (of course), but musicians can be found all around the city.  Check the Fete's official lineup for exact locations and times.

At night on June 21st, many clubs throw open their doors and let people in for free - an event that's known as "Fete de la Nuit."  It's an unmissable chance to sample some of the night spots that you've never seen before in Berlin.

WARNING: It's so not a good idea to show up to any party on this night without your I.D., no matter how old you may think you look.  This not-so-young writer found out the hard way that Berlin's bouncers are even more anal careful about ensuring that you meet their anal high & exacting standards during the Fete de la Nuit!

Freqs of Nature, July 7th-12th

The experimental art & music festival seems to act as an annual meet-up for everyone from the 'fringe' communities across Germany. Although it does help if you're into psychedelia and/or dream of living in a yurt, the hardcore free festival and freetekno people seem to love Freqs just as much as the hippies do.  It's a great place to expand your horizons in whichever way you want: emotional, physical, psychological or, erm, chemical.  

Christopher Street Day, July 23rd.

Berlin's gay pride event is usually about free love but this year's parade is going to be more about tough love.  'Thanks for Nothing' reads the subtitle on the web page for CSD 2016.  Apparently, 2016 will be a time for the "end of gratitude for breadcrumbs."  Damn [the] straight it will!  But hang on, is the super-commercial CSD finally getting some of its radical fighting spirit back?!  Go there if you wanna find out. If nothing else, you'll find yourself in some good company (see below). And that's always something to be thankful for.


Zug Der Liebe

The organizers of Berlin's revamped, re-radicalised 'love' parade have cast their nets wide again this year.  If last year's anarchic street party was anything to go by they'll draw up to 25,000 pax who are in favour all sorts of things, ranging from the right to stay to the right to go (naked, dancing and/or drunk) anywhere they want.  Sure, it's more of a party but it's a party that aims to emphatically tell the world what Berlin stands for, not against.  We are all in favour of that!



Hemp Parade (Hanfparade), August 13th.

This parade is for all those with a need for weed so, unsurprisingly, the majority of Berlin is usually there.  The motto this year will be "Legalization is in the air!"  Not many visitors to Berlin realize it, but the city already has a very liberal attitude regarding Mary Jane. Here, personal use and possession have been effectively decriminalized.  Many venues allow smoking on the premises and you can carry up to 5 grams without risking arrest, I think (as a non-smoker I can never recall the maximum carrying amount).  Not to mention the fact that Germany's already a 'green' nation in the ecological sense, so hemp is also well loved due to its being one of the greenest crops (fast growth rates, high  resistance to pests, versatile applications as an alternative food and medical product, what more could you want?).  With the first legal Amsterdam style head shop soon to be opened (maybe) the Hemp Parade organizers have good reason to smell the legalization in the air.  Even if you don't smell it you'll still catch a huge whiff of the fragrant herb everywhere you go... either on August 13th, or any other day!

Silent Climate Parade, August 27th 

At the Silent Parade you 'rent' wireless headphones (a returnable deposit is needed) and dance down the streets of central Berlin as DJ's broadcast live sets to you over the airwaves.  The objective?  To call attention to the issue of climate change, using the surreal spectacle of a mass of people, silently 'avin it large.  The parade is one part flashmob, one part party, and several parts protest.

The aim of the Silent Climate Parade is to create an event where you can have fun and send a serious political message about climate change at the same time.  My only question there would be, "Send a message to whom?"  The world's tiny political and corporate elite only ever achieve anything with the help of the 6 billion or so 'little' people.  Maybe then, the message that could create the biggest change in the world would be one that we digest and act upon ourselves. 

It would be great to see this year's parade focus more on demonstrating to others how they can make change happen, instead of always expecting others to do it for them.  Taking part in direct actions, like those which recently blocked carbon intensive industries world wide during Break Free 2016, is one way to do this.

But that aside, I find it hard to fault this parade.  Young they may be, but the parade's organizers are so full of idealistic energy that I can't blame them for not knowing exactly what to do with it all.

Fuck Parade, August-September ???

In theory, the Fuck Parade is an anti-gentrification protest. In practice, it tends to be more like a mobile occupation that anyone's welcome to join in, as long as they have a no-holds-barred attitude and don't intend swipe the land that the party stands on, like your average property speculator does.  Despite having no real manifesto, or even because of that, Fuck Parade still attracts a radical left wing set that practices what it preaches (vegan, freetekno, egalitarian, etc.).  You can feel a kind of well-worn, anything goes freedom in the air at this parade that to me, beats anything that I've felt at the majority of Berlin protests so far.  It may be a party first and foremost but, even without the aid droning speeches, stale slogans and so on, the Fuck Parade manages to feel like it's advancing a real cause, which would be us.

The exact date is usually announced about a week in advance, so follow the group's page for stay up to date. 



Got any more cool open air events to recommend?  Feel free to send them our way!  In the meantime enjoy the sun... and the rain... and whatever else comes.  Who cares?  It's summer. 

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Berlin, Germany
...is NOT a fashion blogger! I write about underground music, activism, social media rights. Other publications that I have written for: OpenDemocracy, Urban Challenger, Siegesaeule, Alternative Berlin and Sensanostra.