Berlin This Time: Nightlife

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Greeted by a sign behind the bar that read, congratulations you just left the hetereonormative sektor, I immediately felt at home. In NYC, most queer parties are monthly events, venues tend to be gaystream. Berlin manages to support several radical and activist queer spots, some of which are cooperatively run. Messy and fun, Silver Future plays riot grrl and indie music, sells zines about topics like girls with mustaches, and serves cocktails in a relaxed, mixed gender atmosphere. The bartender was charming and chatty, adding to the neighborhood feel. No photos allowed inside the space.

We also headed to Süd Block, which creates space for housing rights and social justice activism in a large outdoor patio setting. Tai chi and other workshops are offered during the day and events or parties are in the evenings. See schedule on their website.

And later, Geist im Glas, a cozy, regular bar known for their infused liquors and cocktails. This place, like so many others in Berlin, is thick with smoke, but chill and fun.

K-fetisch and Suzie Fu were closed that evening, and Roses Bar, with it’s pink faux fur walls and early morning rowdiness, seemed like too much of a commitment. I also didn’t have a chance to hit Core Tex for punk shows, but all the more reason to go back.

Mexico City: Nightlife

at Patrick Miller

at Patrick Miller

We were in DF because my friends from La Joteria (queer Latin event producers), DJ Precolumbian, and my sweetie, DJ Shomi Noise, had been invited by rappera Niña Dioz to perform. I was along for the ride. Once we got to DF, there were complications with the venue, after zealous suspensions of activities due to everything from noise violations to corruption (107 such closures in 2012, according to Time Out México. There were red “clausurado” signs all over town, and the crew had to scramble to find a new venue on short notice.

Zona Rosa, with its very gay row of bars with names like Kinky, Papi, and Touch, wasn’t the right fit for a queer vibe. (We did, however, have an adult beverage at Macho, a sausage fest of a bar with walls of full length mirrors, rainbow lights, a backroom shielded by a panel of plywood, and a smoke machine that spewed on the patrons at regular intervals.)

gay bears

gay bears

Another night we went to the long standing, steamy packed club named after it’s founding DJ, Patrick Miller. It was an 80s/90s throwback, a big, open space with a balcony wrapping around and high energy dance music, neon, and strobe lights. It reminded me of legendary Body and Soul parties in mid-90s NYC, with people sprinkling baby powder on the floor to keep from slipping, dance crews, and bodies of all types showing off their best moves. I especially enjoyed watching rotund middle age guys with beer bellies throw it down, carefree and childlike.

Ultimately, the party was held at Pulqueria Insurgentes, which had a nice vibe and good drinks. There were four floors with different music, but it felt more like a very cool house party than a big club. People danced to DJ Shomi Noise’s eclectic beats, and, as Niña Dioz put it, she kept doing something “unexpected,” playing everything from twerk and reggaeton to Mexican pop. Good times.

(l to r) DJ Shomi Noise and Niña Dioz

(l to r) DJ Shomi Noise and Niña Dioz

Pink Money: GLBT Travel Expo

After taking the red eye back from California, I met a few friends at the GLBT Travel Expo at the Kimmel Center on the NYU campus. I generally book my own travel and don’t restrict myself to gay ghettos, but it’s good to know what companies reach out to our community and won’t kick us off an airplane.

We collected schwag, snacked on candy, and signed up for multiple email lists for chances to win free trips (no such luck). We all agreed that a black tote bag from Delta airlines was the best giveaway. The exhibitors ranged from travel agents and tour operators to transportation companies and financial services. There were familiar vendors like Fun Maps and Go Magazine, and tourism commissions from popular destinations like Miami and cozy Vermont. A few surprises: Purim in Tel Aviv sounded fun, as did a safari in South Africa. And author Michael Luongo was there promoting his book Gay Travels in the Muslim World.

I was surprised that REI wasn’t there. Don’t they know that lesbians love camping? Also absent were other gay friendly travel destinations like Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Vieques, Madrid, or Sydney. And Olivia Cruises! Hopefully, as the expo expands, more vendors will join in.

LGBT buying power is estimated to be about $790 billion in the US. And homo travelers spend an average of 57% more than straights. Of course, disposable income of minorities does not signify equality or power, as this thoughtful critique of the concept of Black buying power asserts. Then again, why spend money somewhere unwelcoming or worse?

Kamprad69 via Wikimedia Commons