30 November 2015

What I Learned From The Berlin Goth/ Alternative Scene

January will mark 3 years of accomplishing our dream and moving to Berlin. There is so much to tell about the life here, but I have decided to share some observations and lessons learned from the alternative/ goth scene, since it´s basically what we came here for.

Ever so varied and absolutely nothing like in Israel (or anywhere else), this is what Berlin´s squats, parties and gigs have taught me:

1. Reminder: you have 20 events coming up this weekend

Berlin is exhausting. Good luck choosing from 5 different parties, 3 gigs, 2 birthdays, 4 other possibly cultural events every. damn. weekend!
And don´t be surprised you don´t see you friends regularly.
And bring a gas mask because each pub or club has no ventilation whatsoever so you either learn how to convert cigarette smoke into oxygen, or die, or go home. But the third one is not an option!!

2. Nobody gives a damn about your appearance

I thought WGT is already behind us, because you are not impressing anyone with your hair extensions, shaved eyebrows, latex corset and New Rock boots (unless they are stomped out completely and are the only shoes you possess, along with an obligatory torn band t-shirt, which is ok, gives you that post-gothapocalypse look).
Consequently from nr. 1 on this list, nobody has the time or energy to doll themselves up too much for each party. Most people will wear basic clothes, with some stockings max.
Of course, there will always be some Deathrockers  who would sport a head-to-toe old school look, but they are rare and travel in packs (if they are not late to the concert already from all the prepping-up).
Basic clothes include:

  • Band t-shirt, preferably falling to pieces
  • Combat boots, new or old, it doesn´t matter, You have them- the dancefloor is yours.
  • A vintage piece, thanks to Humana, a chain of super cheap second hand stores we all love.
  • A really cool hair due that goes well with everything and needs little to no styling.
  • A belt, but no more than 2 in one outfit.
  • Some type of gothy makeup, but one that doesn´t look like you´ve been sweating over it.
picture by Krousky Pictures
3. If a party costs more than 5 euros, it´s not worth it

Not to mention squat prices (3-5 euro mostly). Everybody is broke in Berlin, and so are you, or you can pretend to be. Parties for 10 euros? Ok, how about putting me on the guestlist for that one.
As well as:

4. Knowing the good and bad venues

How to tell if a venue is good? Here are some positive-venue-experience qualities:

  • You can sneak your own drinks in, without having to buy an overpriced, disgusting beer (like Berliner or Becks, lord have mercy on us)
  • They have mexikaner shots, preferably for 1 euro/ shot.
  • No incidents of harassment, stealing, sexism, racism, homo/ transphobia occure (with a bunch of stickers on the bathroom doors to remind you how to behave).
  • Gender neutral bathrooms are always a plus

5. Here come the snotty hipster goths

Perhaps my favorite part in the Berlin goth scene is the diversity of events and happenings, making the subculture seemingly broad, or at least various.
Which is why with a bit of time and hanging out, one can easily orientate between a number of "layers" the scene has to offer. This include: 
  • Fancy mainstream goth parties
  • Cheap squats with gigs and cheaper beer
  • Expensive fetish parties
  • Minimal synth parties with music that seems likable in Berlin but sounds absolutely horrific
  • 80s parties where old people are likely to be seen
  • 80s parties where younger people are likely to be seen
  • Post punk gigs
  • Post punk gigs with bands claiming they play something else but end up sounding like Post Punk or worse
  • Snobbish hipster goth parties with a love for trendy Tumblr music and Tumblr people
  • Queer goth parties with wonderful music and atmosphere
  • Some more minimal synth/ minimal wave parties leaving you thirsty for guitar music that will never come
and the list goes on, depending on your music tastes, budget, hangeout, morals or lack thereof.

6. have we met before?

To shatter your and mine provincial expectations, despite the wonderful things listed above, the scene in Berlin is actually not big at all. Sure, there are a lot of possibilities to do your thing, more than 2 people that will come to your gig or party and stores or flea markets where you can expand your rare record collection. But you probably know most people, or at least you see familiar faces in different hangouts; everybody dj-s at everyone else´s party, everybody plays in everybody else´s bands, etc etc. 
Expecting that the scene would be an engine to get your career moving is a no go as well.
And you realize that even in other European countries there will always be the same people who organize parties, festivals, gigs, etc.
So speaking form a more global perspective, the goth scene is indeed small, but we might just enjoy it as it is, contribute as consumers, artists, creators and friends, and not save on the hairspray.

I hope you have enjoyed this post! You are welcome to share your experience with subcultures in big cities you know, or share your own expectations of places famous for their alternative style.

N. Finsternis


  1. hi !
    I really like your blog, is diferent and interesting, I like the band hidden pleasures
    and all band goth 80's like the cure.
    I hope u never stop writing here
    My name is Anna my from is Venezuela, my spirit is goth but my look is a little pin up jajajaja.

    Happy day :D

    1. Hey Anna! Thanks so much for the feedback, it´s exciting to hear!!! I will definitely continue writing!
      Going to check your blog out :)

  2. Oh my god, you got me at "minimal synth parties with music that seems likable in Berlin but sound absolutely horrific" - soo true!! I live in Berlin now for about seven years and I personally think the "scene" is devouring itself, I'd love to see some innovative concepts, but still though, enough places to go and expolre in Berlin :)


    1. woah, seven years is a long time! They say you get sick of the city at some point, want to leave, but end up staying anyway hehe.
      I am desperate for something more refreshing, that´s why I´m kind of into other scenes right now, the the drag and queer scene and garage. I love the fact that you have so many different things to enjoy, especially live gigs of different bands.