Decadence Lite, Berlin Edition

Caroline’s Old Fashioned

Last night Caroline and I engaged in some decadence-lite by visiting the Berlin nightspot Bellboy. Of course, when you think of Berlin, you think decadence, cabarets, drag queens, leather, and donuts. In the movie version of our escapade, Emil Jannings would play me, and of course, Marelene Dietrich would play Caroline.

Emil and Marlene

Bellboy pretends to be a speakeasy. There are no signs anywhere, not one outdoors announcing its existence, nor are the doors to the toilet marked. Caroline and I sat at the bar behind which mixologists put on quite a show, pouring liquids from container to container, creating rope-like streams, shaking concoctions in ice filled metal containers like Cuban percussionists. Waiters took your orders, slipping up behind you, and rarely did you encounter the same one consecutively. Anyway, when my beer arrived, it was sheathed in a brown paper bag. Ragtime jazz pulsated from the speakers. Otherwise, the crowd looked like your run-of-the-mill German Büroarbeiters.[1] No one sported chaps with the butt-baring cuttouts or conical bras fashioned from poptoptabs.

On nice touch, I thought, were bowls shaped like hippopotami bearing condoms positioned every few feet on the bar. We noticed a bartender placing a condom in one ridiculously elaborate drink he was constructing. I asked, “Did you just put a condom in that drink?” and he answered, “of course,” as if I were some kind of rube, so for the rest of the night, whenever I engaged the staff in conversation, I laid my Dr. John rap on them, letting them know the oysters were “mos scocious,” and the beer “desitively bonnaroo.” 

Going to the toilet ended up being a Hitchcockian adventure/nightmare. I asked for directions, and the fellow led me to an elevator. He said, “Go to the second level, go straight, it’s on your left.” Once I entered the elevator car, it went dark except for a strobing red light. It was too dark to see the buttons, so I demanded Siri to turn on the flashlight, which she did; however, when I pressed button 2, the elevator didn’t move, but another door opened. I tried pushing the button a couple of times but gave up and walked around the corner to find myself back at the entrance where three young ladies greeted in-coming guests. I dropped MC Escher’s name, and they showed me an alternative route. The next time I had to go, I was sent to an entirely different location, a series of incense-infused pink rooms. There were no signs, as I’ve mentioned, but I saw some urinals, so I went on in. On one wall, the urinals were way too tall, as if I had stumbled into an NBA lockerroom. However, I found on another wall, standard urinals. As I was leaving, I saw through a glass window, two women preening in front of a mirror, smiling, laughing, having a good ol’ time. I’m not quite sure if they were real or a movie. Anyway, they looked real.

So, all in all, it was a rather disorienting evening. We were out of there by ten, and the staff, whom I generously tipped, seemed genuinely sad to see us depart.


[1] Officeworkers (Note, I’ve started Germanificating my English by mashing words together). 

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