The Gay Scene
The city has several districts, each with its own unique ambiance and personality and all of them are gay friendly. Schoneberg in Nollendorfplatz is the most prolific for gay culture and nightlife while Prenzlauer Berg is complete with fashion stores and gay and lesbian parties that never seem to end.
Affectionally called Xberg, Kreuzberg remains the hippy happening and Friedrichshain keeps the younger gay and lesbian crowd happy and has a strong student population. Mitte is the trendy end and has specific gay and lesbian parties on a very regular basis.
To be fair, plenty of other big cities – including those mentioned above – have seen a trend away from gay ghetto-ization, and Berlin has a Gay Village (around Nollendorfplatz, in Schoneberg) that bears a striking resemblance to Sydney’s Oxford Street, West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard, and countless others.
Schöneberg has largely remained the same over the past decade, while the rest of Berlin has been transforming since reunification in the ’90s. But outside of this still highly charming district of campy bars and cafes festooned with rainbow flags, your ‘gaydar’ is likely to detect critical mass all over the city, in areas that fall both west of the former Berlin Wall, and east of it.
Particularly among the younger generation of queer Berliners, there’s a sense that every intersection blessed with a few sidewalk cafes and diverting boutiques qualifies as miniature anchor of gay society. And yet in the most buzz-worthy of these areas – such as Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, Schonhauser Allee in Prenzlauer Berg, and Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain – people care not a lick about one’s sexual orientation. Indeed, Berlin’s Christopher Street Day gay pride parade isn’t the only one anymore, with the Kreuzberg CSD taking place annually on the same day.
The diversity of bars, restaurants and clubs in Kreuzberg makes it easy to get around and a tourist-friendly area. The über-hip Neukolln neighborhood has become Berlin’s hotspot, often called the up-and-coming Berlin neighborhood. Even one of Berlin’s longest-running gay clubs, SchwuZ, moved from Kreuzberg to Neukölln, marking a shift eastward in the gay Berlin scene. Set in what was once the Kindl Brewery, the new SchwuZ opened a 16,000-square-foot industrial-chic megaclub with three dance floors and a massive stage. Hipster-soaked Neukölln, while still rough around the edges is definitely seeing an uptick in queer nightlife action. With other gay bars opening up in Neukölln, like the small dive bar & open-minded The Club, Neükolln is no longer up-and-coming—it’s the heart of the new gay Berlin.
And while long-running clubs such as cult-favourite Chantals House of Shame and Berghain still draw in the crowds, new bars and club nights often just pop up. Monthly techno queer parties like Pornceptual at Prince Charles and Homopatik have moved the crowds into alternative venues and neighbourhoods. The northern end of the Schöneberg district still reigns supreme as the full-on gayneighborhood of choice, with longtime queer favorites like Prinzknecht and Café Berio still going strong.