Berlin is dynamic, tolerant and international – and that’s nowhere more true than at Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg, and has been for 100 years.
The area around Nollendorfplatz has been a magnet for gay people since the 1920s. It was where men met at the Eldorado drag bar, where Marlene Dietrich and Claire Waldoff were also regulars. And a memorial plaque at Nollendorfstraße 17 commemorates Christopher Isherwood, who also lived here in the neighbourhood. His Berlin Stories were the basis for the world-famous musical Cabaret.
Today you’ll see rainbow flags everywhere in Schöneberg. On cafés, restaurants, gyms, boutiques and bookshops, many of which cater specially for gay and lesbian customers.But as a reminder that such peaceful tolerance and co-existence was not always a given, a memorial plaque to the gay and lesbian victims of National Socialism is located at the Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station.
Every year in mid-July, the neighbourhood hosts the weekend-long gay and lesbian street festival. With over 350,000 visitors it’s one of the biggest festivals of its kind and is a fixture of the Berlin Pride Weeks that last all through July. During the Pride Weeks more than 200 political, cultural and sporting events take place. As well as the lesbian and gay street festival on Motzstraße, these also include Christopher Street Day, CSD auf der Spree and Gay Night at the Zoo, the lesbian and gay swing party at Berlin Zoo.
Over the years, some cafés and bars have become genuine institutions for the scene, such as Café Berio, for instance. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of cake while you watch what’s happening on Maaßenstraße. Enjoy a heartier kind of fare at the cosy old-fashioned Raststätte Gnadenbrot.
For a relaxed start to the evening, try the Hafen, or begin your night out at the exclusive Heile Welt. The Prinzknecht is most famous for its wild theme parties. The classic place for cruising is Tom's Bar, which is frequented by a mixture of locals and tourists. At least as popular and well-known is the Connection, where men dance to disco and house music – or disappear in the huge cruising maze (temporarily closed). Members of Schöneberg’s particularly well-developed leather and fetish scene are drawn to places like New Action. The lesbian scene meets at the Begine women’s pub, which also holds cultural events and parties.
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