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In Berlin's Neukölln, pretty much every queer club has its own little dark room.

by Victor Clark 09 Mar 2024

In Berlin's Neukölln, pretty much every queer club has its own little dark room.This dive into Berlin's club dark rooms is gonna get even more wild, so brace yourselves for some potentially spicy visuals (though we'll keep it classy with some strategic blurring, leaving plenty to the imagination, honey).

Anyone who's partied in Berlin's queer scene knows that tucked away in some secret corner is a whole other world. These infamous "dark rooms," known abroad more formally as cruising spots, follow the same script as the ones back home. Everything that happens is totally consensual, fitting right in with the rest of society's unspoken rules. So, when you see those leather-clad queens wielding whips on some guy tied to a rack, there's no need for pitying glances (especially in Berlin's traditional queer district, "Schöneberg," where bars with cruising spots are packed, and during events like Folsom or Easter, the leather and BDSM scenes really come to life).

Schöneberg, this old-school queer neighborhood, has reportedly been Berlin's hotspot for romance and nightlife since before WWI. With gay bars, restaurants, X-rated shops, bookstores, and video stores, it's like Thailand's Silom or Japan's Shinjuku Ni-chōme, offering a one-stop service area for the queer community. But the downside of being such a classic spot is that it can feel a bit dated – the lighting, decor, and some of the faces, along with a somewhat homogenous aesthetic, can leave the younger crowd feeling a bit bored after a few visits. The same old themes of bondage, leather, and drag need a fresh twist.

Enter Neukölln, the rising star on Berlin's queer scene. Places like Ficken3000 are where the quirky, bold young queers are at. With their unique hair colors, body piercings, and a vibe that screams subculture chic, they're confident and unapologetic. Here, there's no pressure to fit into specific boxes like "twink," "bear," "Asian," "white," "macho," or "femme" – you just do you.

And what's cool about Neukölln's queer clubs is that most of them are open to all genders. You can hit the dance floor with your gal pals or trans buddies. One of my friends, a total fujoshi, begged us to take her to Ficken3000. When she saw two dudes grinding against each other, she was so excited, she started clapping like it was the best thing ever (at Ficken3000, or really, anywhere in Neukölln, people are pretty chill about being watched).

Lab.oratory is another famous club in the area. Besides a small bar and a token dance floor, the place is basically a huge dark room. How extreme is it compared to back home? Well, they host themed nights around sex and fetishes every weekend. Thursdays are for their naked parties (a nod to Berlin's nudist culture), where you're expected to strip down at the door. The sight of everyone queuing up butt-naked gives off a weirdly solemn vibe, which I'm not exactly a fan of.

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