Saturday, July 21, 2012

Transgenialer Christopher Street Day: Alternative Pride in Berlin

June 23rd was Pride in Berlin and we celebrated! Berlin actually has two prides, one is Christopher Street Day, the main one, and then there is the Transgenialer Christopher Street Day, the alternative one. We decided to check out the alternative one and marched with them the whole way from Treptower Park to Heinrichplatz to a mix of techno, pop, Bikini Kill and the Butchies, which took several hours. There was a big group of us, including some visitors and a friend from my German class at Smith College who lives in Paris. We kept bumping into other people on the way.

So far I've been to Northampton, MA Pride many times, Brighton Pride in England and Long Island Pride in high school. Somehow I've never been to NYC Pride, which is silly, but will happen one day. Anyway, what is different about this pride is that it isn't commercial at all. A lot of the big prides seem to be mostly stuff like "Coca Cola!!....with rainbow flags...Mercedes!!....with rainbow flags, etc.". Here they blasted lots of music and occasionally gave speeches, which I actually didn't understand much of besides the "Bioladen Prenzlauerberg Bourgeoise", but oh well. We had fun, then we wandered around the street fest afterwards for awhile, took a short break to recharge and get coffee and warmer clothes (for me), then came back and danced in the street until they shut everything down at midnight. Except for a mishap where I was gay bashed by a thorn bush in Görlitzer Park (maybe it wasn't the best place I've ever decided to pee...), it was a fabulous day.

I think the entirety of Berlin was covered in glitter. Did I mention my new obsession with glitter? One day I spent 22 EUR on Claire's just on different types of glitter. It's an addiction.



Ready to go!

Pride is clearly the time for ridiculous outfits. Some creepy guy asked me out for coffee on the way to my friend's flat, it went something like, "Du siehst so chic aus, lassen uns eine Kaffee trinken, ich wohn einfach um die Ecke!". Possibly the most inopportune time to hit on me, a lesbian, on the way to PRIDE in a ridiculous colorful outfit, wearing huge rainbow feather earrings, covered in glitter. Someone missed the memo about what day it was. Sorry dude, wrong team.


Still excited.

Note the fantastic headband and pure unadultered excitement.

Yay gay! Unicorns! Rainbows!

If you join our group, you will get covered in glitter. Just a warning.


I'm not sure what I'm doing here, but I like it.

"Homophobia fuck you in the knee!" Indeed!

This is the moment we got tired and tried to fix it. Being excited for so long will do that to you.

Please note the rainbow feather earrings, thank you.

Street fest! Lots of people!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fahrradsternfahrt Or That Time We Biked on the Autobahn.

On June 3rd we decided to do the Fahrradsternfahrt (literally bike star drive), which ended up being one of the most fun things I've done in Berlin so far. My friends Nicole, Marion and I biked about 25km through Berlin through major roads and on the Autobahn (highway), through a tunnel and all places that were normally dominated by cars, but were shut down for us during the ride. We took the shortest route, but all the various routes led to an environmental fest in the center of Berlin by Brandenburger Tor going from the very ends of the U-bahn (subway) lines out in the country (see the map of all the routes above). There was even a very ambitious group who left at 3am and biked all the way from Poland! 

Afterwards there were a bunch of speeches and stands, where I overheard that there had been 150,000 participants and that this is currently the biggest bike demonstration in the world! I really thought it was just going to be a small critical mass type thing, but as we rode we picked up more and more people and by the end we were swarms of bikes filling up the highway in every direction! 

For those who don't know, Berlin is a very bike friendly city, so much so that I was able to overcome my fear of biking around cars, buy myself a bike and have since become bike obsessed. I'm still not hardcore enough to fix my bike myself, except for something like putting air in the tires, but I think I've become bikesexual. I've started checking out bikes instead of the people riding them. My first thought after I bought my bike, having only ever ridden a bike around my small neighborhood when I was a child, was "Oh fuck, now I have to ride it home, maybe this was a bad idea." Now I'm considering buying a guest bike so I don't have to take the U-bahn when I have guests over! 

 Anyway, while there are many bike lanes all through Berlin separated from the street, there are still areas and streets that leave something to be desired. One example was leaving the bike happiness zone of our big bike ride on the highway to being thrown into the traffic in the center of Berlin with no bike lanes and construction forcing us to share tiny single lanes with cars on the way to get Mexican food after our trek. Okay, let's get to the important! 

Nicole and I biking on the highway.

The beginning of our journey at Alt-Tempelhof!

Here is the group in the beginning.

About to bike onto the highway and into the tunnel.
We've collected more people! We had to wait like 45 minutes for them to clear the highway at this point.
Biking through the highway tunnel! Blurry, but awesome!

And back into the light!

Biking on the highway!

Marion can bike without hands. I am jealous.

Fellow highway bikers!
There you have it! This next picture was from the Environment Festival and is completely unrelated, but here is a woman milking fake udders for your enjoyment...

So come to Berlin and bike with me!