The German Fetish Ball has been one of my favourite fetish weekends since its inception, so when I learned the party had moved back to Berlin, there was no way I was going to miss it!
Luckily my good friend Rubbergirl had similar plans to revisit Berlin, determined to soak up the ambience and excitement that she'd missed in 2009, when she was accompanied by a possessive boyfriend.
For a Scandinavian, or an expat such as I living in Scandinavia, Berlin is almost too irresistible to pass up, with its sights and creative vibe, and most important: cheap drinks and meals!
Also, past GFBs in the city have always provided one of the most exhilarating weekends in the social calendar for me, because they reunite friends from around the world.
And this year was no exception, beginning almost immediately when we walked into the Friday cocktail opener, and ran into about ten friends before we even entered the bar!
I’ve missed the more international crowds that we used to see at the London Fetish Weekends (and Rubber Ball Weekends before that).
So it was heartening to run into Dante Posh and her sweet friend from NY and Austria, Bill and Andy from Atlanta, and a whole crew of UK-based partygoers from London and further north.
Of course, the only anxiety of the evening was trying to decide who to talk to next, so the hours just whizzed by, and before I knew it, Rubbergirl was dragging me away from the bar so we could make a nice day of it on Saturday.
We started off at the German Fetish Fair (part of the GFB side of this year’s combined weekend), where we ran into old friends from previous fairs, and made new ones, and checked out the nice fetishy things on display.
The fair was rather busy, and had we had more time, we would have enjoyed another hour there, and taken the free shuttle buses to local fetish businesses laid on by the organisers of the Berlin Fetish Weekend.
But beers, chatting and Korean fried chicken beckoned instead.
One annoying aspect of the weekend was that there were a number of competing events from the two main organisations and, in the run-up to the weekend, somewhat incomplete information on the German Fetish Ball site.
Consequently, many of those “doing Berlin” for the first time were quite confused trying to figure it all out in the early stages of their planning.
Most of these problems were fixed by the time the weekend arrived, but by then it was too late for those folks who had bought tickets for Saturday night's Insomnia or Dark Side parties, not realising that the most fun to be had is always at KitKatClub.
Luckily my instincts were correct again this year, as reports that came to me from Insomnia were not very good. With the average age skewed to the middle-aged, my good friend Tobias who had bought tickets to the event suspected he was one of the youngest there, and that even I would have been among the younger set!
Nor was a night of play very much fun at the Dark Side for anyone not fond of smoke-filled basements, apparently.
Around 3am, KitKat suddenly filled to the rafters, due to around 70% of Insomnia's guests scurrying away at the arrival of a local TV crew
The KitKat — venue for Saturday’s locally organised Fetish Network Party — was where the coolest crowd was, for sure, but there were plenty of seats when we arrived, so we could socialise and enjoy the night.
Around 3am the club suddenly filled to the rafters, which I learned was due to around 70 percent of Insomnia's guests scurrying away at the sign of a local television crew being let in to film the spectacle there.
We made it until four or so, when once again dear Rubbergirl dragged your rather drunk correspondent back to our hotel room. Luckily for me, Tony M was still awake to receive drunk texts, until politely begging off to sleep. Too much fun was had!
I make it a point never to miss the Sunday brunch at the Red Rooster. This year wasn’t as crowded as in years past, but it was well worth the visit to catch up with my friends from the previous night, and to meet up with dear Ian, who had flown in from NY especially for the main event!
The main event — the German Fetish Ball itself at Matrix — was initially rather confusing to me, as the entrance had been moved to what used to be the back of the club, making it challenging to find the fashion shows.
In the end, I managed to miss only two of them, which was sad for me, as I’d particularly wanted to see friends walking in HW-Design’s show. Nevertheless, the shows were varied and impressive as they always are.
The night itself was really good, but rather packed, as some of the venue's spaces were taken over for Matrix’s regular Sunday night event. There was plenty of impressive latex on display, however, as each year brings more colour and variety to the event.
I like Berlin a lot for its sheer scale and variety. What I found troubling, however, is how hostile people there seemed to be to latex in public — something I’d first discovered in 2004 during my first visit.
It was something I’d forgotten until we were out and about, and it still puzzles me in a city where almost anything seems to go. We braved the crowds and strange looks until Saturday evening, when we decided a taxi was the way to go here on out.
It was also shocking to feel the change in the crowds from the daylight hours, when everybody seems much more courteous and conscientious about public space, to the later weekend hours when the city and its underground trains team with younger drinkers. It's something I'll have to remember for next year's visit.
After the weekend, I caught up with people on Facebook, where the overall mood was euphoric, and later on, slightly melancholy, now that it was all over and real life continued. I'm already excited about next year!
I like Berlin a lot for its sheer scale and variety. What I found troubling, however, is how hostile people seemed to be to latex worn in public