By: Farah Haze
Illustration: Marta Braga
These past years I swapped hedonism for therapy. I had to. The pandemic shrunk my world. An orbit of daily stimuli dropped away. A newsfeed I couldn’t handle too much of slowly faded out. Joy got swallowed up by the void of video call technology. Until it was me, a few friends and our mood swings for entertainment. As they say, the only way out was in.
This summer, life switches on, and my friends and I don’t have the same energy reserves. All nighters with club slime turn into evenings with natural wine, talking about trauma. There is little tethering me to my old lifestyle. I spend my time floating around Neukölln hotspots, sweating out my climate anxiety. I feel morally bankrupt. I leave a pandemic tech job I’m not proud of with no clear path back into god’s light. I stare wide-eyed at the housing crisis memes from my rent-controlled altbau and I wonder how long it is until I meet my fate as an anmeldung-not-possible Neukölln slumlord.
I watch what’s going on in the world and I know we are so lucky here. One of my favourite activities this summer is ‘kiez safari’. You cycle or walk around neighborhoods, taking in people lazing out across the tree-lined streets – just the sight of it feels like a life force. But I also get the sense we are all people at brunch trying to ignore the wasps – the wasps with attitude that get in your face here as summer ends – side-eying the swarming crises and hoping they don’t sting us.
I try partying again, and I feel neutered. I don’t have the same stamina. The first night out post lockdown in autumn 2021 sets the tone: I enter an event at Funkhaus to discover that of the people packed in, the average age must be 19. I see a group of boys who can’t be older than 15, giddy, looking as surprised as I am that they made it in.
This is absolutely fine, it’s encouraged, we love to see the kids having fun. But I feel I have aged one thousand years in the past two. On this night I’m soon turning 30 and it spins me out. I glance around at the faces in the heaving tunnel and it genuinely pisses me off as I think, they don’t even know. They don’t even know how young they are.
How depressing; I’m getting old. The timeless ‘when to leave the party’ dilemma that might hit around 30 feels accelerated by the past years, where there was no smooth offboarding from the 20s lifestyle. Nearing the end of my sad girl summer, clearly I need some fun. At the very least, drugs.
I go to clubs and feel increasingly on the outside looking in, so it seems to fit the mood to swap club drugs for some psychedelic processing. I go to a hotel by a lake and munch through two grams of ‘golden teacher’ magic mushrooms. I lay down and start to experience the baggage being squeezed out of me. A long grey tube appears in my visual and I feel I’m being squeezed out along with it, the last of the mess I worked through the past years getting out of my system.
At one point the image takes on a vibrant, disco-like tone. As if it’s taking place inside the giant stalls at Hasenheide fair where you win those big teddy bears that cascade among the flashing lights. The tube is now firm and pink and glittering, and there’s a lever being pushed down the length of it by two Berlin rave fairies. They are cherubic versions of the kind of people you see at Berlin Pride. I’m vibing. They hang off the lever, cigarettes casually between their fingers, taking drags and shrugging like they’ve seen it all before. People who come to Berlin to run from something, people who find an escape from it in nightlife, people who work through it in other ways, people who don’t, people who come back to the party, people who don’t. Baggage is the great equalizer.
I haven't really found my way back to the party yet. I couldn’t even bring myself to for the purpose of this piece. Instead I go on club queue safari, cycling between the big Berlin institutions taking in the kids with their black and mesh and expectant glares. I say a little prayer for them – I know I am a ridiculous person – I hope they find what they’re looking for, the people at the start of a journey as I seem to be reaching the end of mine. Maybe like this print magazine (love you guys!) I’ll be back in some way. For now, that feels ok.