Category Archives: Music & Films

Berlin: Giant Bear Pole Dances Around Fernsehturm

Berlin Tanzt - Photo from YouTube video from Tanzbüro Berlin

Photo: Still from YouTube video by Tanzbüro Berlin

Let’s be honest, a dancing bear is bound to get your attention.  If you’ve been in Berlin over the last month or so you will have noticed the posters for Berlin Tanzt with a bear captured mid-leap in many of the U-Bahn stations.

But when that bear appears in a video and is as tall as the Kugel of the Fernsehturm and uses it to do a pole dance you’re hooked, right?

Well check out this genius advert for Berlin Tanzt from Tanzbüro Berlin on YouTube then:

tanzcard präsentiert: BERLIN TANZT. Auf 22 Bühnen.

Berlin Tanzt is a dance festival performing on 22 stages across Berlin from 29 January to 28 February 2014.  For more details check out the Tanzraum Berlin website.

Sunday Documentary: The Tunnel

People At The Berlin Wall At Schwedter Strasse - Still From NBC Documentary - The Tunnel

Photo: Still from The Tunnel – NBC

Produced by Reuven Frank and narrated by Piers Anderton and first aired on 10 December 1962, the NBC documentary The Tunnel follows a group of West Berlin students determined to help people flee communist East Berlin.

Featuring footage shot inside the tunnel under the Berlin wall, the programme offers a unique insight into the remarkable efforts some were willing to go to in order to secure the freedom of others.

The tunnel stretched 120 to 140 metres below the border from Schönholzer Strasse 7 to Bernauer Strasse 78.

As the film points out the intention was to free many more East Germans but the tunnel flooded after 29 people had used it to cross from East to West.

The Tunnel

The documentary and the story it depicts also inspired the film Der Tunnel (2001) and the documentary Der Tunnel: Die Wahre Geschichte (1999).

Der Tunnel (auf Deutsch)

Der Tunnel: Die Wahre Geschichte

Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled for this video but you can find it here.

Berlin Songs: Parlez-vous anglais ? – Last Paradise On Earth

Parlez Vous Anglais ? - Last Paradise On Earth Promo Photo

Photo: Damien Stein

The eagle-eyed Urban Explorers amongst you may recognise the location of this promotional shot for the new song from Paris / Berlin based outfit Parlez-vous anglais ? as it’s the basketball court at Kaserne Krampnitz.

The video for Last Paradise On Earth, a catchy bit of Disco-Synth-Pop was filmed at a number of Berlin locations, including Spreepark, Eisfabrik and the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.

Parlez-vous anglais ? – Last Paradise On Earth

The new Parlez-vous anglais ? EP, Dancing On The Other Side will be released in March 2014 and they will be in Berlin for a DJ set at Intersoup on 31 January 2014 with a live show to follow at Kaffee Burger on 28 March 2014.

Parlez-vous anglais ? - Dancing On the Other Side Artwork

Artwork: Paul Roche

If like me you’re new to the band you might also like to check out their previous EP.

Parlez-vous anglais? – Sunglasses and Shirts

You can see more from Parlez-vous anglais ? on their Facebook and Soundcloud pages.

Klassiker 2014 – Elderly Germans in film poses

Cabaret - Contilia Gruppe / Werntges Studios (pensioner Martha Bajohr poses as Sally Bowles)

Photo courtesy: Contilia Gruppe / Werntges Studios

Proving that the old like to have just as much fun as the young, a group of pensioners in Germany have recreated scenes from classic films for a 2014 calendar.

Klassiker 2014 was conceived by the Contilia Gruppe, a healthcare company whose interests include a number of residential care homes in Essen, as a gift for residents and employees.

Shot in a professional photo studio (Werntges Studios) the models aged 75 to 98 struck poses from films including Blues Brothers, Saturday Night Fever and Titanic.

My personal favourite, with a Berlin connection of course, is Martha Bajohr as Sally Bowles from Cabaret.

You can read more about the project (auf Deutsch) on the Contilia website and download a pdf version of the entire calendar.

How Animals Eat Their Food (and What Does The Fox Say?)

How Animals Eat Their Food (T-Rex screen print from video)

Photo: Still from How Animals Eat Their Food by MisterEpicMann

I have reached an important turning point – my nephew is telling me about YouTube videos I should watch.

At the end of the summer, two weeks after I introduced him to Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Say?), my nephew, Owen (who was 8 at the time), told me during our fortnightly Skype call that I had to watch How Animals Eat Their Food.

He then fell off the sofa because he was laughing so much listening to me laugh at the video.

I realise that as this was the most popular YouTube video in the UK in 2013 and has almost 94 million hits at the time of writing that it is likely that you have seen this already but just in case…I hope you find it as funny as Owen did.

How Animals Eat Their Food

Now, with over 334 million hits, it is even more likely that you have seen the video that inspired his suggestion - Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!

Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Say?)

Berlin Songs: Sam Smith – Berlin

Sam Smith - Berlin (Radio 1 Live Lounge) - image courtesy of BBC

Photo: Courtesy of BBC

BBC Sound of 2014 winner Sam Smith chose to cover RY X’s Berlin on a recent visit to the Radio 1 Live Lounge.

BBC Sound of 2014 was compiled from the three choices of 170 DJs, critics and bloggers of the acts to watch out for in 2014.  Past winners include Adele, Ellie Goulding and 50 Cent and last year’s winner Michael Kiwanuka featured in my A Year in the Life of Berlin post as the video for his song Tell Me A Tale was filmed in Berlin.

The Longlist, the 15 most hotly-tipped acts, can be found on the BBC website and I’d recommend checking it out.  You’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of some of the names on it over the next year.

Sam Smith – Berlin (Cover Version)

For anyone not familiar with the song, here is the original version.

RY X – Berlin

Sunday Documentary: UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin

UNLIKE U - Trainwriting in Berlin (screenshot from the film)

The documentary UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin follows a group of graffiti artists spraying trains in Berlin and explores their motivations and experiences through interviews.

The film was originally banned from cinemas after complaints from Deutsche Bahn but the makers recently won an appeal against this decision.

Unfortunately, though the film is available in full on Vimeo it can’t be embedded but you can find it by following this link: UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin.

Berlin Summer Rave 2013

Neon at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Last night I went to my first Berlin Summer Rave at the disused Tempelhof Airport – a great location despite the distinctly un-summer-y weather.

I went with Summer Rave veterans Steffi, Bine and Olli and after a few short queues in the Berlin rain we could feel the bass even before we entered the building.

After a quick look around we made our way to the Planet Bass Hangar to see Lady Waks followed by Westbam.

Lights at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Dancer at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Taking Photos at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Westbam as GIF (with a hard G)

http://picasion.com/i/1TFBQ/

And if you’re wondering what it all sounded like here’s a little taster of the Lady Waks set.

Lady Waks at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Ohrwurm: Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind (screenshot from YouTube video)

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind has been playing on repeat in my head since I heard it when I walked into a Berlin clothes shop last week.  I first heard the song when it featured in the BBC Sound of 2012 list but hadn’t thought of it since.

This unofficial video (the official video won’t play in Germany because of GEMA) features the acrobatics of Mouvance – trapeze artists Helen Turcotte and Luc Martin – which really matches the mood of the track for me.

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind

Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1960s

Berlin in the 1960s - an escape attempt (screenshot from The Wall)

The 1960s was a decade of great social and technological advances and Berlin, as the main flashpoint between the ideologies of capitalism and socialism, saw more changes than most cities.

The loss of skilled workers to the West, as referred to in my Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1950s post led the government of East Germany to take the extraordinary step of sealing its borders.  Officially referred to as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart the Berlin Wall was built to halt an exodus that threatened to de-stabilise the fledgling state.

In 1963 the eyes of the world were on Berlin when the President of the United States of America, John F Kennedy, stood in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg and, in a show of solidarity with the people of West Berlin declared “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

“Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” – Walter Ubricht (1961)

At a press conference on 15 June 1961 in response to a question from a West German journalist, Walter Ulbricht, the leader of East Germany, uttered the now immortal words, “Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” – in English, ‘No one has any intention to erect a wall’.

The Wall – US Propaganda Film – Berlin Wall 1962

Less than two months later, in the night of 13 August 1961, East German soldiers began the process of marking out the border and rolling out barbed wire to prevent unauthorised movement between East and West Berlin.

The US propaganda film, The Wall, from 1962 includes some of the most iconic footage of the recently divided city – the scene at 6:23 where a woman runs into the barbed wire at the border makes me wince every time I watch it but is a clear indication of the desperation to leave.

A Royal Day in Berlin (1965)

Queen Elizabeth II travels to West Berlin in 1965, the first visit of a British monarch to Germany for more than half a century.

Berlin in Bildern – Hauptstadt der DDR (1968)

This clip from Das war die DDR shows Berlin in 1968 and includes footage of the Rotes Rathaus, the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park and most notably the Fernsehturm still under construction.

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin “Counter-Intelligence Special Operations” (1969)

Taken from a US Army training film this footage from 1969 shows Checkpoint Charlie and other notable Berlin sights and outlines procedures for observing East Germans and other potential threats in Berlin.