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Jan
15

Doing Berlin Bowie-Style

Yesterday was a big day. David Bowie released his first single in ten years. Ten years. When I listened to the song I cried. Just to hear that voice I’d been so obsessively in love with all of my life come back after such a long silence was epic. The DJ said that crying was common- his voice sounded older, more frail and tat was exactly as it should be. Bowie was too good to ever try to strap on a silly outfit, get a spray tan and try to look half his age. My man.  He was more than just a singer, he was a centerpiece of the seventies, a poet.

Mr. David Bowie

Mr. David Bowie

So what does this have to do with travel? Two words. Bowie Berlin. They’re so similar, aren’t they? Berlin is this incredibly vibrant, smart, forward-thinking city stuck in the conservative and tidy German Republic. And strangely his new song is all about his time in Berlin.

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Bowie lived there in the 70’s for three years, at the peak of his career playing in the city and working on three albums.  The recording was called the ‘Berlin Trilogy’.

Can you imagine how amazing it would have been to have walked in his footsteps? Take a look at what Ziggy Stardust did back in the day in a city just as amorphous as he was.

Hansa Studio Tour

Hansa Studio

Hansa Studio

Bowie recorded at the famous Hansa Studios, not far from the reconstructed Potsdamer Platz, which he mentions in his new song. The studio – which used to overlook the Wall – is operational and it is very cool about letting people visit. Tours will take you into Tonstudio 2, where Bowie recorded Low and Heroes, and produced The Idiot for Iggy Pop. You are invited into a back room to examine a book of newspaper cuttings and to chat with the staff. The place is no museum, however. It’s a working recording studio: Supergrass recorded there last year and Snow Patrol too.

Where to stay

ellington hotel

ellington hotel

If these walls could talk. Built in the 1920s it has hosted a Weimar-era nightclub, was a Nazi hot spot, and has been bombed more than Bowie.

Since 1949, however, this has been Berlin’s version of Studio 54, replete with female bouncers (who once turned away Sly Stallone) and a regular clientele that included Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and, more until it finally closed in 1993. The Ellington re-opened as a design hotel with many of the art deco features like the green and white tile staircase. And best of all its stayed true to its roots—make sure to catch a jazz concert while you’re there,

Where to hang

Berlin Kreuzberg

Berlin Kreuzberg

Believe it or not S036 is still a happening place. In fact, little has changed since the days of Bowie.  This legendary club in Kreuzberg is still one of the finest new-wave venues in the world and does its part in championing new artists and helping them get ahead.

If you take a walk down to Oranienstrasse, east of Moritzplatz and down towards Kottbusser Tor, you’ll catch a glimpse of what it might have been like back when Kreuzberg was a Turkish enclave behind the Wall. Graffiti sits alongside designer shops and there’s a lack of the corporate, thank God. I don’t know how they’ve managed with the high prices these days but there’s still old fishmongers, button stores and punks with political slogans, God bless them.

Where to go drink

luzia's

luzia's

In Kreuzberg Most have coffee at Luzia, (Oranienstrasse 34), a converted butcher’s shop, where you can eat croissants and listen to Iggy Pop and Bowie.

But  aside from the old Iggy records, it’s got aDJs and live acts. The musical program crosses techno, bluegrass and indie.And the furnishings are more like Portobello Rd. than anything else you’ll see. it’s coy, chic and oh, so cool.

Where to eat

Question is where did Bowie eat?

paris bar

paris bar

Iggy and Bowie were not into fine dining which is so bourgeois. But when they did eat, it was at the Paris Bar, a French cafe in upscale Charlottenburg. If you remember, the restaurant was once made famous  because of  a Rolling Stone interview whereIggy got so drunk he ended up rolling around in the ice outside. The place still has that bohemian vibe. There’s the art collection is donated by Martin Kippenberger.

Browsing Vinyl

rock steady

rock steady


Nothing sounds better than vinyl—all music lovers know that. And For Bowie-era records, there’s no better place than  Charlottenburg’s Rock Steady Records and its archive of over 10,000 vinyl LPs. It’s just two blocks from the Ellington.

If yo like techno, Kreuzberg’s Hardwax is the place and also has a huge back catalogue of Chicago house and dub reggae. On Oranienstrasse, Core Tex’s got the  punk sounds coming out of S036, while the more boutique Downbeat Reggae Store offers an excellent selection of rare groove and mixed tapes.

Clubbing

Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz

The clubs may have changed but the city’s hopping like never before. And the selection is more amazing than in Bowie’s heyday. But you have to know where to go. Berlin’s not showy, which is obviously very cool.  The best club at the moment has no neon lights, no red velvet rope, no carpet outside. It’s called Weekend, and you’ll barely find in on the 15th-floor atop an anonymous office block in Alexanderplatz, the Soviet-era square in the center of the former east. What you will see is a small line at ground level leading to elevators. Follow that trail and you will be whisked up 15 floors to a massive dance floor.  On the 17th floor is a roof terrace overlooking Alexanderplatz and the TV tower.

anhalter bahnhof berlin

anhalter bahnhof berlin

On the western side is the more lounge-like Solar, a 15th floor restaurant and club with panoramic views over the floodlit ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof: once the largest train station in Europe. But it’s hidden down a side courtyard it sits above an apartment block.

Here in Berlin, you just can’t shake the feeling of the rock and roll that went on here. The vibe remains because no matter how much teh rich want to gentrify it, the people won’t let it go. Thank God for that.

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I do advise my mock interview clients to https://www.goldessayclub.com/ dress appropriately for our mock interview and for their phone or in-person interview

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