The VICE Guide to Berlin 2014
The German capital is one of the planet’s great party cities, where your every dream and darkest desire has been turned into a three-story nightclub with a merciless door policy. Sadly, everybody in the world knows this, so the only thing worse than the stupid fucking lines outside the clubs are the infuriating tourists within them. Here’s how to avoid pissing off the locals and convince everyone that you’re ein Berliner.
Jump to sections by using the index below:
– WHERE TO PARTY
– WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DRUGS?
– POLITICS, PROTESTS AND JUST HOW RACIST IS EVERYONE HERE?
Legacy of the Squatters | May Day, Refugee Strikes and Neo-Nazis | Berlin’s Immigrants
– WHERE TO EAT
– WHAT DO LOCALS EAT?
– WHERE TO DRINK
– WHERE TO STAY
– LGBT BERLIN
– WHERE TO HANG OUT WHEN YOU’RE SOBER
– HOW TO AVOID GETTING RIPPED OFF AND BEATEN UP
– HOW NOT TO BE A SHITTY TOURIST
– PEOPLE AND PLACES TO AVOID
– TIPPING AND HANDY PHRASES
– A YOUTUBE PLAYLIST OF QUESTIONABLE LOCAL MUSIC
– VICE CITY MAP
The VICE Guide to Self-Esteem
Self-esteem: Everyone wants it. Industries are built around getting it and keeping it. Wars are started by people who don’t have it (or have too much of it). The secret to having self-esteem is realizing that you are already perfect. Let us show you just how incredible, special, unique, cool, intelligent, and super fucking fuckable you actually are.
No harm can come to you if you are awesome. Fortunately, you are awesome. If you’re not awesome, convince yourself that you are. Once you do, people will cling to you like moths to an awesome flame. You are that flame. Burn baby, burn.
Honorable Mentions: Abortions, America, affirmations
Photo via Flickr user J>Ro
Getting drunk is a foolproof confidence booster. It’s called “liquid courage” for a reason. Getting drunk inside a bar, surrounded by other false-confident boozers, means you’ll get talked to, hit on, and treated like royalty. You’ll feel better about yourself without actually doing anything to make you a better person, which is faster and easier than attempting to get to the root of your problems via tedious introspection.
Honorable Mentions: Birthdays, better than (as in, you’re better than everyone else), break up with your partner
Crying is usually a sign that you’ve felt something that made you feel bad. Maybe your dad skipped your dance recital. Maybe your dad showed up to your dance recital drunk. Find the nearest friend, relative, lover, or complete stranger and cry in front of them. Chances are, they will want you to stop crying so much that they’ll comfort you with a hug or some words of wisdom. Since it feels so good to be comforted, some people will actually pretend to cry just to get sympathy. We like to call these people “power users” in the MMORPG known as life.
Honorable Mentions: Charlie Sheen (king of self-esteem) Confidence, cumming hard (cumsplosion)
If self-esteem is what you seek, delusion is your best friend. There’s no such thing as failure when you’re delusional. When people are saying you can’t do something, mentally flip them off and convince yourself you can. You are the greatest—with or without actual talent.
Honorable Mentions: Dancing like no one is watching, dogs (who love you unconditionally), Donald Trump (the king of delusion)
The VICE Guide to Raving
Everyone’s a raver now. “Guitar music is dead” is the kind of thing your dad says—that’s how dead it is. Now, it’s all beats and bells and whistles. The future you glimpsed in 90s movies, when everyone’s into techno and has slime-green hair, is upon us.
But while so many of us go raving, the vast majority get it wrong. Be it the drugs, the joy, the communal toilets, or the pressure not to look like a dick, we often end up looking like dicks. We eyeball the DJ, we pump our fists, we kiss Europeans, and we piss our paychecks away on booze and drugs only to throw it all up later that night.
So treat this as Raving for Dummies: a kind of self-help manual for people who can deal with week-long comedowns. Maybe it seems fascistic to tell people how to behave at an event that’s supposed to be about hedonistic release, but watch this video and you’ll understand that perhaps the new graduating class of rave enthusiants could use a bit of guidance.
This is imperative. Looking good is one of the fundamental cornerstones of youth culture; however, that’s not really the case when opting for board shorts and rape-culture-slogan T-shirts. Remember, this all-important sense of aesthetic belonging is what all great cultural movements were built upon.
Except now it isn’t. Some people still make a valiant effort, but really, how long can you spend angling your Night Slugs fitted cap? You aren’t Michael Alig or Sting in Quadrophenia; you’re just one of those guys who gets his fade shaped up once a week. The days of people doing their hair with eggs and glue, ironing their Mohair jackets, or pouring blue paint over their heads are consigned to the past.
Modern club fashion is, by and large, cozily utilitarian—easy to wear, machine-washable, and unlikely to get you attacked at Sunday recovery brunch session. Sure, it’d be great if someone did push the boat out a bit, but in what direction? People standing near repetitive beats have a shameful sartorial history of bleached dreadlocks and furry, flourescent legwarmers; if fashion had a Hague, everyone at Electric Daisy Carnival would stand trial for war crimes. So maybe it’s best to stick with the streetwear.
Photo by Marco Tulio Valencia
Sorry to break it to you, but they’re all awful and they’re all bastards. By now, every dealer realized that cutting corners isn’t going to put a dent in their customer base. Especially not when that same customer base strictly buys drugs when they’re drunk and happy to shell out $100 for some mix of boric acid, levamisole, and a cursory dose of whatever it is that they actually want to buy.
The VICE Guide to Being Trans
We’ve had a gay guide and a lesbian guide already, so in an effort to include the entire LGBT spectrum, we got our friend Paris (pictured above) to write a transgender guide. Bisexuals, you’re just gonna have to read the gay guide and the lesbian guide and combine them in your head. Sorry.
“Transgender” is like a really extreme form of gay. I turned gay back in 2003 just to be different, and although it upset my family, it wasn’t quite different enough, so I thought I’d get some surgery and shit to really fuck with everyone. Most people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when it comes to transgender issues, but that doesn’t stop them from talking about them, so I figured I’d weigh in and compile a list too. Oh, and this came after VICE’s gay and lesbian guides because trans people are an insignificant and embarrassing addition to the LGBT community and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’m a trans girl, BTW. So this is a guide to being a trans girl, really. Sorry trans boys, you’ll have to make your own guide. I can’t carry us all.
A - Androgyny
You know how when girls wear blouses that are clearly designed for girls but look a teeny tiny little bit boyish and the privileged twats at Vogue call it androgyny? It’s not that. Only trans people, Teletubbies, and about four 80s pop stars can really pull off androgyny. Androgyny can be a mix of male and female markers, or a lack of both. Tits and a dick? Androgyny! Referring to transsexual models like Givenchy hottie Lea T, who is now a woman, as androgynous? Not androgyny!
Honorable mentions: April Ashley (Google her); acid (the drug—it eases the pain); attention seeking; acid (like the kind in batteries that sometimes gets thrown in our faces).
B - Butt Sex
Seriously, who needs a vagina when you can just leave the back door open?
Honorable mentions: Chaz Bono; blow jobs; Birdo from Mario.
C - Cock and Cunt
Would make a great bar name. You probably wouldn’t be able to call a bar that though because it’s rude. Rude like the way people ask trans people about our cocks and our cunts as though they were fitted kitchens, or conservatories. (“Sue, tell me, have you had yours done yet?”) Though genital surgery is an important part of many people’s transitions, it’s really just a private medical matter. I wouldn’t ask you if you’re circumcized, or if your vagina is an innie or an outie. If you ask someone about their cock, you’re a cock.
Honorable mentions: Changing your outfit 20 times before you leave the house and twice outside the house; camp.
D - Drag
Drag is a gateway drug, kids. So be careful when you’re planning your next hilarious shenanigans. One minute you’re having the time of your life, dancing around in a cheap party wig—the next your snorting estrogen off the back of a toilet seat. Seriously, it happened to me.
Honorable mentions: Dicks, daddy issues, drama, Dana International.
E - Everything Is So Fucking Hard, Even Buying Milk and Snickers Bars and Chewing Gum
Let’s face it, life is tough. And everything’s worse when you’re trans. EVERYTHING. If you don’t believe me, fellas, try cross-dressing and heading out to work. On the subway. Followed by dinner. If you’re lucky, you’ll just get laughed at all day. If you’re unlucky, maybe you’ll get raped or beaten or murdered. Maybe all three, as is way, WAY too common for those of us who don’t “pass.” Statistically, trans-folk are way likelier to be homeless, sex workers, mentally ill, and to commit suicide, too. Which is a pretty big bummer.
There’s one thing worse than being a transsexual, and that’s being an old transsexual. Avoid it. Many trans people transition in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s and beyond after a lifetime of trying to conform. These people are legends and deserve Really Sticking with it When You Really Don’t Want to Awards. Which should definitely be a thing.
Honorable mentions: Es, ear piercings.
F - Faking It
As we tend to have a few tricks up our sleeves when it comes to making our bodies appear how we feel inside (ie jelly boobs), trans ladies are seen as deceptive. Which is kind of harsh, considering the lies that are told about us. It seems the majority of the general population thinks of trans people as being monsters. No smiling at kids on buses for you, trans lady. The idea that all trans people are perverts gets us banned from top jobs like rape counselling or working with children, but really it’s US who should be afraid of YOU, non-trans people! Seriously, stop harassing us by lifting our skirts up in public, pulling our tops down, grabbing our crotches, and trying to find out what bits we’ve got.
And if you feel uncomfortable around us, the stats show that we’re way, way more likely to be killed by you than you are by us. So let’s not get it twisted.
Honorable mentions: Fannies; foofs; fuck-holes; family; fear of aging.
G - Gossip
You’re in a bar. One minute you’re chatting to the man of your dreams (Man A), and the next he’s got some guy (Man B) whispering in his ear: “Man, you know that girl? She used to be a guy!” I have seen two responses to this; the first is Man A telling Man B to fuck off and that it’s none of his business (unlikely). This leaves you feeling irked, but all-in-all, triumphant. The second is when Man A thanks Man B profusely (even if he knew anyway, cunt) and joins him for a drink to jointly laugh at you from the other side of the bar. Which leaves you feeling, all-in-all, like a speck of shit (way more likely).
Honorable mentions: gays, gal pals.
H - Harry Benjamin Disorder Sufferers
Transsexualism was first classified as a medical condition by a surgeon called Harry Benjamin. Today, rather than calling it plain old transsexualism, some trans women like to tell people that they are suffering from Harry Benjamin Disorder. These “classic” transsexuals see themselves as special; better and more female than other trans women, and more female than anyone, actually. They will kill you if you try to shelter them under your cozy transgender umbrella. So make sure to leave them out in the rain.
Honorable mentions: Hope; hermaphrodites; Honor Blackman; hormone therapy.
The VICE Guide to Fat People
If you’re fat, your life probably went something like mine:
Once upon a time you were eight years old. Your parents got divorced. You moved schools. You didn’t talk to anyone for a few weeks. But then, magically, you got over it. How did you get over it? Spaghetti hoops and sausages in a can, no exercise, and Hostess Fruit Pies. Your journey had begun.
By the time you were ten, the world was laughing at you. And why not? You looked like a condom full of Play-Doh that came alive and grew some hair. Your parents fitted plastic locks on all the food cupboards, but you destroyed them easily with your massive hands. Your friends became bullies and your teachers became friends. How did you try to fix the situation? Chicken nuggets and milkshakes x 1000.
So now you’re a grown-up fat person. Congratulations, you are part of the most successful and fastest growing (LOL) demographic in the world. You’re also using up more resources than necessary, contributing disproportionately to global warming by expelling more gases than cattle, and indirectly murdering millions of starving children in Third World countries across the planet. Give yourself a round of applause!
But, as all daytime talk show enthusiasts know, life’s not always such a peach for the rotund. In fact, sometimes, it’s pretty damn shitty. So, for all you who, like me, are proud, First World fatties, here are some gems of advice to help you through your significantly shortened lives.
FACIAL HAIR ♂ / MAKEUP ♀
When you’re a child, disguising the fact that your neck long ago enveloped your jawline is not easy. However, sexual maturity offers you a get out of jail. Careful grooming of a beard (an actual beard, not soul patches or those bullshit pencil-thin Jersey Shorelines) not only creates the illusion of a jaw, but also lends a sense of masculinity to a blotched, swollen face which, frankly, belongs on a pregnant alcoholic. Ladies, unhappy you can’t beard up like your pudgy brothers? You can achieve similar effects by using subtle shadings of blusher and foundation to draw on a chin somewhere in that pile of flesh that goes from your shoulders to your lips.
If you believe television, then you think fat people seek each other out romantically. Obviously, this is not the case. Just because you’re fat, it doesn’t mean you fancy other fat people—you’re fat, not a chubby chaser. Fat people fancy the same people as everyone else: Ryan Gosling and Rihanna, we just have even less of a chance of actually sleeping with them. Fat people tend to settle for other fat people; and then we compliment each other, we feel good about ourselves, and the world inches towards being a better place.
You might be a looker. Fuck, you might be David JFK Clooney Beckham, but no one will ever know, because your face is hidden behind two inches of meat. The average person doesn’t want to make out with a plate of sausage filling. But, hopefully you’ve been paying attention to the hilarious insults everyone’s been throwing at you since year dot, because you’re going to need to be funny. Charming as well. Seriously, you have to be twice as charming as Hugh Grant, because he’s really skinny. But get it right, and you’ll be able to fuck right out of your comfort zone. Sixes. You can get sixes. Which, let’s face it, is great news.
Alternatively, if you’re gay, you lucked out. Hot, skinny lesbians, who—on planet hetero-norm—would be screwing Jared Leto, LOVE big girls. And if you’re a fat gay guy? Well, things couldn’t be easier; walk into any bear bar and prepare to feel all those years of feeling unattractive washed away in a sea of jizzum.
As a large person, a lot of your life is spent trying to avoid breaking a sweat or running out of breath. Sadly, you’re gonna fall short of this ambition several times a day, every time you see a flight of stairs, in fact. Unless you live in an air-conditioned elevator wonderland, you’re going to have to deal with stairs ALMOST CONSTANTLY. Toilets, bedrooms, balconies, viewing platforms—all of these bastard things are upstairs and by the time you get there, you’re going to smell so bad the paramedics will probably refuse to treat the enormous heart attack going on behind your fat ribs. Also, the temperature in your crotch will go up by about 15 degrees in under 60 seconds. Fucking stairs.
How to Speak Like a Maritimer
While Americans look to the south for unintelligible slang and quaint accents, Canadians look to the east. People speak so fucking weirdly in Canada’s Maritime Provinces that you practically need special Robocop-style eyewear to translate the toothless fisherman-ese into intelligible subtitles. But even though you might have trouble understanding what they say, the fact that they’re friendly as fuck comes across loud and clear. After some time, their garbled fast-paced accents and abuse of English grammar grows on you to the point where you find yourself back in the big city going, “Holee Jesus cocksuckin’ Murphy, she was some fuckin’ cold and a pocketful of fuck yester’ night, I’ll tell ya right now.”
Maritimers communicate with one another like young twins that invent gibberish language: They say what they want, how they want to say it. Communication is successful through a combination of inflections, contexts, and an instinctive mutual understanding that stems from living for decades in the same small boring coastal town. Here are a few tips if you ever want to try and converse with someone from Tatamagouche.
TALK REALLY, REALLY FAST
For starters, Maritimers speak at a speed that can only be compared to an episode of Gilmore Girls cast with leprechauns on crank. When in doubt, the rule of thumb is: Fake it till you make it. No fisherman is going to dissect the minutiae of what you’re trying to say, so if you’re stuck casually throw in a few nonsensical nautical-sounding phrases like “flipper dipper” or “thar she blows!” Keep up with the pace and no one will second-guess you. If you find yourself utterly speechless, stuff your face full of donair and they’ll think your dad was the mayor of Memramcook.
SPEAK LIKE A PIRATE
The whole living-by-the-sea thing has given everyone a kind of “arrr matey!” lilt. So words like “our” are pronounced “are,” “car” sounds like “currh,” and you’ll regularly hear things like, “Come on, Terry. Get in the currh (car) we’re going to the burrh (bar). Oh it’s not too furrh (far).”
“WHAT’RE YOU SAYIN’?”
This saying translates simply into “What’s up?” and it will get you confused looks anywhere east of New Brunswick. Maritimers prefer to ask what someone is “saying” rather than “doing,” because most of them come from small towns where everyone gossips and nobody actually does anything.
THE VICE GUIDE TO ADULTHOOD
We are so sick of you full-grown babies running around aimlessly—with your shoes untied and overdraft-fee receipts falling out of your pockets and grease stains on your cut-offs and employment-repellant skillsets and inability to party and go to work the next morning—that we’ve gone ahead and figured it all out for you.
In the early 2000s, 20- and even 30-somethings could eek out a passable existence as abhorrent, unabashedly selfish, microwave-dependent, and wholly unproductive members of society. Today, somewhat due to the grievous irresponsibility’s of our baby boomer parents, we know that such behavior can only heap insurmountable debt being foisted upon future generations, and, if you really give it your all, the slaughter of millions of innocent civilians worldwide and other atrocities.
Chances are your parents were selfish and didn’t raise you correctly. Like, at least one-third of the people reading this have no idea how to fold a T-shirt. What the fuck is wrong with you? Did you just not show up to that day of life? But it’s OK. We will show you the way.
It is quite possible that your parents didn’t teach you certain things about hygiene while you were growing up. It’s quite possible that you didn’t even have parents, and were perhaps born from a turd similar to the ones you continuously leave in the bowl without flushing after visiting a public restroom, like a DNA stink-abortion for the next person to discover. Hate to break the news to you, pal, but if you haven’t managed to tackle how to properly deal with your fecal waste, everything else in life is going to seem like an insurmountable challenge.
PAY YOUR DEBTS
Hardly anyone has a credit card in Germany because the word for “credit card” there literally means “debt.” The Germans, culturally, do not live beyond their means, mostly because they tried that once and a lot of bad things happened. That’s sort of like America and Europe now, don’t you think? The only difference is that instead of Hitler we get a bunch of religious extremists who bunker down in the worst places in the world and figure out how they’re going to kill us over here. Bad things are happening, for sure, and a lot of it is fueled and funded by people (the West) living well beyond their means. Start by doing simple stuff like, you know, paying $100 a month above the interest owed on your credit card instead of buying drugs twice in one week.
You’re probably OK with pot and mushrooms and some psychedelics, but the reason you’re able to buy coke and heroin and most of the other shit (especially in the States) is because a lot of people are dying in Mexico because of it. And not just drug lords—entire families of innocent people who happened to live in the wrong town, and increasingly lots of children. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, but if you feel like you might have a bad drug problem coming on, subscribe to a few Mexican newspapers so you can look at crime scene photos of piles of body parts and headless corpses the next time you feel like taking a bump or plunging a needle in your arm.