Berliners all have their favorite park.
And any given weekend, if the weather is at all tolerable, that is where you will find them.
Well…if the weather is super nice, maybe the Strandbad, as I’ve reported before…but that, of course, is rare. This is Germany were talking. And if the weather isn’t nice, you will find them boozing it up in the club, pub, bar or Kneipe.
Sure…then there is the folks with their Ruderverein (rowing clubs,) car or motorcycle clubs, their medieval and Native American reenactment clubs, their shopping malls and their fitness centers, but such douchbags exist in every city, we’re not talking about them here. Screw them.
One fine park in the north of the city is the Mauerpark (the Wall park) so named because the Berlin Wall used to run down one side. Mauerpark is rather notorious for it riots and rather nutty behaviour at times, but in general, at least on a nice sunny saturday or sunday, the park is just about as pleasant a place as one could imagine.
Indeed, a few weeks ago the city was graced with one of those cloudless and golden Indian summer days where a person just wants to linger…holding on to the summer-almost-gone until the very last second possible, and I was lucky enough to find myself at Mauerpark.
And it was just a typical Mauerpark sunny-weather weekend. Nothing more.
The flea market was in full swing.
Youth were playing soccer and basketball.
The old folks were strolling.
The grills were a-grillin’. Kiddies were yelping, giggling and crying.
Jugglers were playing with knives and fire.
This ingenious American guy had set up his portable Karaoke bandstand at the amphitheater in the park…at least several hundred people cheered, booed and laughed their asses off.
Hippies were playing their guitars. There was a drum line 20 people long.
A one man band played songs from Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire and the Flaming Lips.
A four piece brazilian drum troop hammered out beats that had half the park dancing.
Their was a folk singer girl and an accordion player.
Two drunks/junkies rocking out their electric guitars.
A seriously good time was had by all.
And none of it was produced, managed, paid for (beyond passing a hat around), or in any way sponsored by Coca Cola or the local beer company. It was spontaneous, organic and what humans just do when you leave it up to humans.
Free entertainment…except for the couple of Euros I tossed in a hat and a guitar case.
And that…is quality of life.
Not fitness centers, not shopping malls, not where the nearest McFatass is. Corporate Free.
Free of The Man.
Sure a few police officers wandered through at intervals…but they gave no one that I saw any tickets, hassled no one for selling beers illegally (as several small entrepreneurs did) they stressed no one about grilling (even though it’s Verboten in parks).
Obviously they were enjoying the sunny day, too.
And it continued long into the night.
Several bands and dozens of people sat about in the dark watching the moon rise.
But at some point it was time for us to go get tacos and head home.
So we did.
And on Sunday…the next day…we went to Görlitzer Park…and it was pretty much the same there…and we enjoyed ourselves all over again.
(most photos here taken by N. Flohr-Spence)