The Roaring Twenties are back: with the start of the 2020s everyone’s talking about the 1920s – especially in Berlin, which was the most trend-setting city in the world back then. Not only that, but Berlin is also celebrating its birthday this year: in 1920, eight towns, 59 rural communities and 27 estate districts came together to form Greater Berlin. This kicked off a new decade in which Berlin developed into the dazzling metropolis we know today.
And to see what it looked like back then, tune into the third season of the successful TV series “Babylon Berlin”, which starts on 24 January.
So it’s time to put on your flapper dress or your knickerbockers and do the Charleston. We have eleven tips for you to dive into the lifestyle of that dazzling decade.
Tip 1: On the trail with Gedeon Rath
It’s the perfect introduction to the twenties: the successful TV series “Babylon Berlin” is a fascinating portrait of the Roaring Twenties that will catch you in its spell. Follow police inspector Gedeon Rath on his way through the urban jungle with all its perils. At visitBerlin.de you’ll find tips for the locations of the series and interesting background information.
Tip 2: Partying in legendary 20s style
Dancing on the volcano – if you’re a fan of the Moka Efti club from “Babylon Berlin”, you can celebrate Twenties-style at the glamorous Bohème Sauvage parties which take place once a month at various locations. Make sure you’re suitably dressed up.
Tip 3: experience the Roaring Twenties on stage
Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome! From July, the Kit Kat Club is back again at the Tipi am Kanzleramt, where the quintessential Berlin musical Cabaret will take you back to the glittering nightlife of those days, but also the dark shadows of the emerging National Socialism.
In February, “20 20 – The Twenties Variety Revue” opens at the Wintergarten, turning the entire theatre building into a 1920s establishment. Brecht’s Threepenny Opera with music by Kurt Weill is another fascinating portrait of that era, and is back on the programme at the Berliner Ensemble in February.
Tip 4: Browsing at vintage clothes shops
Still perfecting your wardrobe before plunging into the roaring nightlife? In Berlin’s numerous vintage clothes shops you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. There are dresses, gloves, feather boas and cigarette holders in the authentic style, for example at Le Boudoir in Friedrichshain or Mimi in Schöneberg. You can have the perfect dress tailored for you at Charming Styles while Herr von Eden is just the place for gentlemen of taste.
Tip 5: Find the perfect accessory at the Flea markets
You can find even more decoration and jewellery at Berlin’s top 11 flea markets, where you can browse for that special extra to add sparkle and elegance to your look. Every weekend on Straße des 17. Juni you can look for jewellery and accessories at Berlin’s oldest and biggest flea market.
Tip 6: Costume hire
If you only want to go back to the Twenties for one night, then you can choose the right outfit at one of Berlin’s costume hire stores. Whether you’re looking for an elegant flapper dress and feather boa or a stylish suit, you’re sure to find it at Germany’s biggest theatrical outfitters Theaterkunst in Wilmersdorf or at Bonnie & Kleid in Kreuzberg.
You can also find your inspiration for the perfect outfit at the Kunstgewerbemuseum – the Museum of Decorative Arts – with its fashion gallery of costumes from the 18th to 20th centuries.
Tip 7: 100 years of Greater Berlin
Happy Birthday Berlin! A series of exciting events and exhibitions is taking place to mark the 100th anniversary of Greater Berlin. The celebrations centre on two major exhibitions. At the Märkisches Museum the exhibition “Chaos & Awakening - Berlin 1920 | 2020” focuses on the reality of life in Berlin then and now, and is linked with a large number of individual exhibitions in the district museums around the city. The exhibition “Unfinished Metropolis. 100 Years of Urban Development for (Greater) Berlin” at the Kronprinzenpalais questions the strengths and weaknesses of the metropolis and presents specific proposals for tomorrow’s Berlin.
Tip 8: Watching Silent movies
To see what it was really like back then, watch the films of the era. “People on Sunday” follows two young couples on a trip to Wannsee. Also fascinating is “Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis”, which shows a day in Berlin in abstract picture collages.
Every Saturday at midnight, the Babylon cinema in Mitte presents silent films with live organ accompaniment and free admission. The cinema building also dates back to the 1920s which makes it the perfect setting for a journey back in time.
You can find out even more about the exciting films of the Weimar Republic and how ahead of their time they were at the Museum for Film and Television at Potsdamer Platz, where you can watch lots of fascinating film clips that make you want to see more.
Tip 9: Discover the art of the 20s
The twenties were not just about the notorious nightlife, but were also a time of blossoming culture, creating films, art, books and plays which are still an inspiration today. Modern art from Berlin that also gives an impression of life in those days can be seen in the Berlinische Galerie and the Brücke Museum. The Georg Kolbe Museum is a living testimony to the era and the only artist’s studio of the 1920s that is open to the public in Berlin. Ideas for stylish furnishing can be found at the Bröhan Museum, which exhibits Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Functionalist art, crafts, furniture and design. Just around the corner you can visit the Museum Berggruen with works by Klee and Picasso, and the Scharf-Gerstenberg collection of surrealist art.
Tip 10: Discover Berlin Modernism
Alternatively, you can go and see where modern living and working originated. Modernism had a lasting impact on the cityscape of Berlin. Six of the Berlin Modernist housing estates alone are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Shell-Haus is also definitely worth a look, as is the Mendelsohn-Bau on Kurfürstendamm, which houses the Schaubühne theatre.
Tip 11: Stay overnight in the style of a silent movie star
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a diva from times long past, visit the Hotel-Pension Funk. What was once the apartment of silent movie star Asta Nielsen is stylishly furnished in the original interior design. You’ll enjoy the decadent lifestyle at the aptly named Hotel Provocateur, where you can spend a luxurious night in the plush, mirrored rooms.