The best of Berlin in May
This month Exberliner, Berlin's leading English-language magazine, picks the best places to peruse a temporary collection of swank fashion labels, submit an order for your very own custom-designed bicycle or celebrate the state of manhood, in its many forms.
At first Raik Hoelzel, founder of the Berlin kitty-yo music label, and companion Silke Maurer were just looking for a place to sell the remainder of their little fashion label Bel Alvarado. Then they found a shop on Friedrichstraße that was available for exactly eight-and-a-half weeks. It was perfect, but way too big, so they asked a couple of designer chums to join in - and suddenly everyone got very excited at the idea of sharing a temporary showroom. Now the offbeat wares of more than 25 Berlin designers, record labels and artists are on display at 8½ Wochen: you can check out the latest collections of presque fini, Hazelnut, Dress-O-Rama, Lapàporter and Kvast, or sift through new records from the likes of bpitch control, Morr, Grand Petrol and, of course, kitty-yo. Prices range from €595 for a Xiao-Miao silk gown to €79 for a mio animo jersey dress; expensive men’s suits hang next to edgy neon-coloured t-shirts by Yackfou. The store’s slogan is “shop the pain away” (and yes, it is a nod to former kitty-yoite Peaches), so go on then: knock yourself out. /ALM
8½ Wochen, Friedrichstraße 135, Mitte, S+U-Bhf Friedrichstraße, Mon-Sat 14-21, through the middle of May, www.kitty-yo.net
Macs for cyclists
Falk Bikes style themselves as ‘just good bikes’, but in reality they are much, much more: each one is built-to-order, and you don’t just choose your colour. Seat, frame, tires, brakes - everything is up for discussion. The bikes are sorted into five types: Mountain, City, Road, Trekking and the latest ad¬dition to the Falk family, Touring, which is a hybrid of the other four. Pop by for a test drive and marvel at the smooth ride of the Road, the practicality of the City, and the stability and sheer power of the Mountain. The shop, its ethos and the bikes themselves are achingly trendy, so naturally all the bikes are made in Germany, without a carbon frame or harmful paint, and they’re all recycled at the end of their long lives. Falk has worked with charities to plant one tree for every bike purchased and with Die Arche to help Berlin kids understand environmental issues. Anja, a Falk fanatic, sums it up best: “It is a lifestyle choice.” (The prices, which start at €589, definitely are a lifestyle choice.) With its focus on simple designs, its attention to detail and its high levels of service, it’s hard not to think of Falk as the Apple of the bike world. It’s no coincidence that the place is adorned with sleek and shiny Macs as well as sleek and shiny bikes. /JB
Falk Bikes, Wörtherstr. 1, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Senefelder Platz, Tel 0800 0800 252, Tues-Fri 11-19, Sat 10-16, www.falkbikes.de
Männertag - drunken disaster day
Father’s Day in Germany - Männertag, or if you’re an Ossie, Herrentag - is celebrated on Ascension Day (Himmelfahrt; May 21 this year) and it’s a far cry from the Hallmark card bonanza celebrated in America. Originally a celebration of God our Vater, the Berlin and Brandenburg versions of Herrentag morphed into a hardcore pub crawl sometime during the 19th century.
Nowadays it’s all about spirits – of the alcoholic variety. The modern Männertag should come with a public health warning for all those crazy enough to take part. It’s a day when men bond over funny anecdotes, bitch about their women and get as drunk as humanly possible. Traditionally, it’s a meeting of all ages: the older ones initiate the young. The day starts around noon and takes the form of a walking tour from village to village, with the men pulling beer-stuffed carts or riding bicycles with baskets filled with drink. They decorate their vehicles with typical May flora and proceed from one pub to the next. But the image of pastoral male bonding on a sunny spring day is quickly replaced by the reality: groups of inebriated men haphazardly cycle through the woods, consuming schnapps until they’re too drunk to cycle any further and getting into brawls or accidents. More ambulances are called out on Männertag than on any other calendar day. So if you dare take part this year, don’t forget:
1) You must be male. Women are highly disapproved of on Männertag.
2) Kit yourself out with a suitable bike, wheelbarrow or cart for schlepping booze around.
3) Decorate your vehicle with foliage: lilacs, birch branches or anything green.
4) Fill your basket/cart with plenty of between-bar alcohol. Schnapps is good, as it doesn’t need to be chilled and gets you drunk fast.
If, by the end of the day, you find yourself in a tussle with your best mate, end up in a ditch or wake up in Emergency, just remember: you won’t have to do this again for a whole year! /JC