Nightlife in Berlin: More than just a Clubber’s Paradise (part II)
As I explained in part I, Berlin is renowned for its never-ending parties and rowdy nightlife, a reputation which it first earned in the ‘roaring twenties’ and which still attracts millions of tourists to Berlin every year. However, in 1933 when the Nazis came to power this all came to an abrupt halt – Hitler famously hated Germany’s bohemian capital – and if it weren’t for the efforts of one man after the war, when closing hours were still strict, Berlin may well be a very different place today.
The infamous 11-month blockade against West-Berlin in 1948/9, an unstable island surrounded by hostile Soviet territory, left morale low and companies deserting. Something had to be done to make West- Berlin an attractive place to live and run a business – and Heinz Zellermayer, key figure in the local restaurant and hotel industry, was the man to do it. In June 1949, he paid a visit to the head of the American sector Frank Howley. Armed with a bottle of whiskey, Zellermayer convinced Howley to abolish pub closing hours for a trial period of 14 days. And of course, the city never looked back.
It is thanks to this that Berlin’s alternative, cultural nightlife has been able to flourish, benefitting from the pre-existing infrastructure and social attitudes. Without the nonstop public transport, 24-hour off-licences and fast food establishments, not to mention the blasé attitudes towards beginning a night well after midnight – which is almost going home time in many other big cities.
So when in Rome… if you’re visiting Berlin, try to embrace the city’s nocturnal side for an authentic experience – but make sure you have a sleep in the early evening if you want to keep up with the locals!