Gay culture and nightlife has been central to Berlin for decades. Immortalised in music, cinema and literature, the gay scene is synonymous with the city's characteristically liberal and tolerant atmosphere. This being Berlin, pedestrians will tut themselves into apoplexy should you cross the street whilst the little red man is flashing, but if a parade of six-foot drag queens wish to strut down the Ku'damm in full regalia on a busy Saturday shopping afternoon, be prepared for no one to bat an eyelid. As a tribute to Berlin's ultimate and unpredictable gay scene we've rounded up our exclusive picks of Berlin's best gay, lesbian, transexual, drag and bisexual parties.
Gay pop-up parties in Berlin
Pet Shop Bears
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a gay party night called Pet Shop Bears would be packed out with hirsute gentlemen of impressive stature – but no, bears don’t pack out these woods. Instead, PSB’s parties attract a wide cross-section of chaps mainly under 30, communing with the groove at this insanely friendly and easy-going monthly bash. Regular DJs/promoters Justin Case and Open Mike keep things nice and bubbly all night long.
Luscious vibes, deep house, smiling faces, great atmosphere – one of the friendliest parties in town is monthly warehouse bash Cocktail D'Amore, courtesy of the cocktail combo of Berghain’s Boris and Italian duo Discodromo. The capacity crowds up for a memorable night out and if you’re a bear-fancier, then there’s even more reason to get yourself along to the next party...
Recommended LGBT nightlife
A relatively new addition to Berlin’s sauna scene, Kreuzberg’s Der Boiler is a local favourite, renowned for its lively steam room and maze-like cruising area. Cabins, saunas and chillout areas all combine to provide a pretty opulent experience and the guests are always a variable mix. Clean, cool and contemporary interiors make this the ideal spot to hunt down some steamy action.
Tiny, tasteful and terribly nice, this mini bar caters to an upscale Mitte crowd mainly pouring in for a post-work cocktail or two. Proprietor Johann Courgibet has lovingly created a homage to his hometown (hence the name) using details such as the boat planks piled atop eachother to create the distinctive central bar. Often crowded in early evenings, so get there in good time, or be really late.
It was over a century ago that the queers of the Wilhelmine period would congregate around bars and cafés of Mitte’s Mulackstrasse. Today, as one of the few gay bars in Mitte, Betty F*** remains a favourite for trannies, gays, hipsters and fashionistas looking for a kickstart to the evening.
Local legend Nina Queer runs ‘Zum Schmutzigen Hobby’ as part of her sprawling Berlin empire and a trashy, schlocky-fabulous place it is too, where an up-for-it crowd congregate nightly for hi jinks and low-down boogie. You’ll find the cream of the Berli queer scene here, as well as the occasional international celeb slumming it in style – Rupert Everett and uh, Tara Reid have all been spotted here. It’s in Friedrichshain on Revaler Strasse and whilst perhaps a little alarming at first, offers a very friendly, easygoing atmosphere for trannies, gays, lost tourists and local bohos and hipsters. Get down for a wild night out – but this being Berlin, Sunday nights are devoted to screenings of national crime serial ‘Tatort’.
A former beer-slinger from Möbel-Olfe opened this bar for Kreuzberg’s increasingly large gay population in 2010. Located under the round- about housing development at Kottbusser Tor, the mixed (but girl-heavy) crowd enjoy nightly drinks and dancing, as well as many one-off rock parties. The Kottywood party is a popular go-to for gays and lesbians looking to cap a Friday night grinding to Latin, retro and pop music. Südblock also serves food, ranging from breakfast to midnight snacks.