I remember my first visit to Berlin, in 1996, walking down Oranienburger Strasse, sitting in shabby little bars and being surrounded by orange Mohawks, leather trousers, washed down buildings, and protest banners. The view of the ‘Tacheles’ from those little bars is one of the most colorful pictures my brain has ever taken.
These days, Mitte consists mostly of fancy boutiques and high-end restaurants and galleries. Nice, but I can’t help feeling a certain nostalgia for years that I never lived in Berlin.
Despite all the changes, however, hints of that old Berlin can still be found. In the middle of newly renovated buildings and modern supermarkets, lives the ‘Schokoladen’ with it’s run-down walls decorated with pink paper lights and overgrown vines. Walking into the ‘hof’ is like stepping back into the roaring 90′s when it started – soon after the fall of the wall and at the beginning of that period of no limitations for a bohemian-artistic lifestyle. The walls are still a washed-down grey and the windows still haven’t been painted. During the week, the space is used as gallery space for local artists, and every weekend they hold concerts with independent bands and parties.
It’s the kind of place with crowded little smoky rooms filled with people dancing, and where stepping out for air is a necessity. As it has outlived its old neighbors, and has finally won the fight to remain a cultural center, it’s a fantastic little relic well worth the visit.