Despite the inexorable gentrification creep of Mitte and the laughably stupid rebranding of the area north of Torstrasse as NoTo (get it? NOrth of TOrstrasse!), it’s nice to see that some elements of 90s grunge and post-wall East Berlin squat culture manage to not only hang on but thrive in the neighborhood. We can still celebrate the Schokoladen (for a while yet) and the legendary Klub der polnischen Versager (that’s the Club of Polish Losers) on Ackerstrasse, though sadly the Ackerkeller, once underground home to Berlin’s underground homos, is long gone.
Near the Torstrasse end of Bergstrasse, a bright red neon Z helpfully marks the Z-Bar, Mitte’s home of Kunst, Kultur and Kino. The Z-Bar was born out of an empty bakery in 1993 and today it serves up cocktails, a culture program – which features Berlins Schmusetiersoap (a truly bizarre episodic soap opera with cuddly cast-off stuffed toys as actors), readings and a weekly variety show – and a truly off cinema program. Fans of bizarro cinema shouldn’t miss their selection from “the wild side of cinema” where you’ll find B-movie offerings from around the world. Whether you love home-made Japanese horror movies or budget slasher films or crappy sci-fi from the 1950s, Z-inema serves it all up with no judgment.
Best of all, the Z-inema is also available to rent. So if you don’t like their lineup, rent out the cinema, invite your friends and throw your own party!