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HEALTH

Alone Together: How I had an unexpected night out at a German online bar

Bars and clubs around Germany closed their doors in mid-March. But one virtual nightlife spot, led by a professional socializing coach, keeps the good times going, writes Sarah Magill.

Alone Together: How I had an unexpected night out at a German online bar
Photo: DPA

After weeks of lockdown and social isolation, on Saturday night I decided it was finally time to go out and meet some new people. So, for the first time in weeks, I went to a bar. But instead of taking a tram or a train to one of the local hotspots, I just opened my laptop.

As the little blue loading wheel spun on the hosting platform, I imagined myself pushing open the door of an unfamiliar and windowless bar in Berlin, unsure about what I would find inside. As soon as I entered, eleven new faces popped up on screen before a backdrop of a wall of liquor bottles.

Everyone stopped what they were doing to greet me and asked where I’m from – that’s never happened in Berlin.

READ ALSO: How to make the most of German culture while social distancing

Alone Together Bar opened on April 6th and is run by one-woman-show Lydia Molensky, from the Netherlands and living in Munich for four years.

In the time BC (before Corona) Molensky worked as a professional socializing coach, with her business The Catchmaker which helps people who struggle to make new social connections with one-to-one coaching. But when the Covid-19 Crisis put her business on hold, she came up with the idea of opening an online bar instead.

“I still wanted to give people in my community the opportunity to connect with each other, so I started out by organizing online drinks.” When this proved to be successful, and people from outside of her local community started to join, she decided to open Alone Together Bar

“At the moment I have one online bar open, which is open especially for internationals worldwide but depending how things develop, I would be happy to open more “local” bars and to get more hosts on board.”

Alone Together Bar founder Lydia Molensky is helping people stay connected

The bar is open every day between 8 p.m. – 12 a.m. and Molensky is present as a welcoming host and moderator, to help maintain a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. 

Having a socialising expert present in the bar is definitely a big plus, as I saw first hand on Saturday night. When I arrived, I fell straight into a game of “Truth or Dare” in which I found myself quite quickly opening up to strangers about some intimate and embarrassing truths – and feeling surprisingly at ease with it.

READ ALSO: The show must go on: How cultural life has moved online in Germany

“I try my best to give everyone a warm welcome, introduce people to each other and get the conversation going and use conversation games to keep it interactive,” explained Molensky. 

I personally found that this helped to dissolve my own shyness and made the bar a relaxed and fun environment for both introverts and extroverts alike. 

Everyone is welcome in the Alone Together Bar. Photo: DB

“No judgement” was the buzz phrase that evening, as most of us became slightly tipsier in our own homes. Another advantage of being in an online bar is that everyone can choose their own drinks and keep themselves topped up at will; the beverages of choice on Saturday included tea, wine, beer and homemade cocktails. 

By the end of the evening, I felt like I had had a proper night out and made some interesting new acquaintances, who just happened to live thousands of miles away. 

As to the future of the bar, Molensky is taking it day by day, but will certainly keep it running for as long as the Corona Crisis continues. The bar is run by donations and, at the moment, is able to host up to 12 guests at a time. If she is able to raise more money, she would like to expand and add more online bars.

 

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CULTURE

Where to celebrate Diwali 2022 in Germany

The holiday of Diwali kicks off on Monday. Here's where you can celebrate all around Germany.

Where to celebrate Diwali 2022 in Germany

With over 100,000 Indians in Germany, and over 175,000 people of Indian descent, it’s little wonder that Diwali – the famous five day Hindi festival of lights starting this year on Monday October 24th – is being celebrated all around the Bundesrepublik

READ ALSO: Indians in Germany: Who are they and where do they live?

Even the House of Parliament in Frankfurt is honouring the holiday for the first time with a special reception on October 30th.

Diwali takes its name from the clay lamps or deepa (the event is sometimes called Deepawali) that many Indians light outside their home. With the days shortening in Germany, there’s all the more reason to celebrate light — especially over lively music, traditional dance and authentically spicy Indian cuisine.

We have rounded up some of the top events to celebrate around Germany, both the week of Diwali and afterwards, stretching into mid-November. If you have an additional event to suggest, email us at [email protected]

October 24th in Heidelberg

Happen to be in Heidelberg? Then it’s not too late to head to the Sweet Home Project, which will be cooking up a storm starting at 6:30pm. The menu includes an assortment of Indian sweets and savoury dishes. The collective only asks that participants bring along a candle (and a hearty appetite).

If you miss this event, and are still craving some (really) spicy traditional cuisine, the Firebowl Heidelberg is hosting a Diwali party on October 29th, replete with lots of food and drink and Bollywood beats the whole night. 

October 29th near Frankfurt

For those who fancy a Feier with a full-buffet, this celebration in Dreieich delivers through an all-you-can-eat dinner with traditional fare. Starting at 5pm and stretching into the early hours of the morning, the festive feast includes traditional Bollywood music by Derrick Linco. There’s also a dance party for kids, who receive free admission up to seven years old and €25 up to 14 years. Normal tickets go for €40 per person.

A previous Diwali celebration of traditional dance and music in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

November 4th near Düsseldorf

On November 4th at 6pm, the Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft Düsseldorf will be hosting a family-friendly party in nearby Ratingen with classical Indian music and dance, a huge dinner and Bollywood music led by DJ SA-ONE. Tickets cost about €40 each, but children under six receive free entry. 

November 5th in Bonn 

The Indian Students Association of Bonn-Cologne will be hosting its biggest event of the year: for €10, event goers can try an array of Indian food, play classic games and tune into cultural performances. 

READ ALSO: Moving from India to Munich changed my life

November 12th in Essen 

Whether you like traditional bhajans or meditative ragas, this concert will capture many of the classic sounds of Indian music with artists such as Anubhab Tabla Ensemble, Debasish Bhattacharjee and Somnath Karmorak taking center stage. The performance starts at 5pm and costs €10. 

November 12th and 13th in Berlin

Indian food fans will get to enjoy 12 stands devoted to Indian cuisine and products, all coming from the local Indian community. The weekend-long festival will also include stand-up comedy from the Desi Vibes Comedy Group. Karaoke fans will also enjoy singing along with the Sounds of India group, followed by an after party on Saturday. All this only costs €2 at the door. 

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