Berlin Folsom 2019

Mon 9 – Sun 15 Sept 2019

Back to Berlin

Berlin

Regular readers will know that I have a big soft spot for Berlin. It is so historical and cultural – a great place to chill, wander around, and just experience. Me and Dave were there for the annual Folsom Europe event. An LGBT celebration of fetish with nightclubs and street parties. It did cross my mind to give it a miss but Dave insisted we go and I am glad he did.

What is Folsom?

Think of Folsom as a big (and it’s getting bigger every year) party. You can read about visits here in 2018 and 2017 though they go much further back if you want to search my site. Like with all parties, you can choose what to dip in and out of. For many, it is a bacchanalian orgy with the opportunity to give into drink, drugs and sex. Plus the chance to wear clothes and exhibit yourself in a way that you would not normally be able to do. Indeed, some people push it to extremes in a way they probably wouldn’t do in their own home, particularly true of Americans it would seem.

Why I go to Folsom

poster of folsom

My party days are over and for me Folsom offers a chance to live in a bubble of gayness and tolerance for a short period. Yes the dressing up in sports gear, leather and rubber is fun and I partake though I find my leather stuff really uncomfortable to wear. Indeed, the ‘masculinity’ of it all is very appealing. But for me there is nothing better than simply walking around the street fair or sitting watching the beautiful people go past realising (and being relaxed) that they are out of reach of an old man like me. 🙂

Romeo und Romeo

I am so not the ‘normal’ Folsom attendee these days. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of (hot) older people and people come from all over the world. But I am not into the late night parties and drink/drug excesses nor trying desperately to be on club, bar and restaurant hot-lists to guarantee easy access. It is definitely fun to see the younger generation discovering Folsom and its craziness for the first time. For many, the liberation of being something they dream of being rather than being simply what they are day to day (but again ideally not to offensive excess such as pure nudity).

I like crashing out at night after a few drinks but getting up early to experience a city stirring and newly born. I love sitting with a coffee or glass of wine reading a book rather than standing in mega-crowded bars and clubs waiting for someone to find me attractive.

Folsom Street Fair

The atmosphere of Folsom Berlin is my thing. That’s my drug. The sight, smell, sound and feel of freedom (accompanied by the jangling sound of people spending money and businesses cashing in LOL). I love just being absorbed in a cocoon of freedom and life in a city scarred from a horrible history but now liberated.

Arriving early (and leaving late)

There is a definite advantage in flying in and leaving late from Folsom. It really is only Thurs – Sun but getting bigger every year. It is so nice to have days either side of the complete craziness just to be. We flew in on Wed after the BA strike on a flight that had been cancelled then reinstated. Some concerns about knock-on problems but it was actually one of our best ever flights to Berlin.

The rest of Wed after arrival was about finding our feet – seeing what shops had gone and what new ones had replaced them. We ate at Elephant which is a very gay friendly traditional German restaurant. Impossible to get a table there over the weekend itself. And the crowd outside Prinzknecht that night, before everything had officially begun, demonstrated how popular this weekend was going to be.

Art and Culture

Exploring Berlin

You can spend your Folsom time just in the gay village around Fuggerstrasse and Motzstrasse. Or you can also try to enjoy the amazing city that is Berlin. We chose to use our 2 days before the party really kicked in to visit some of the amazing museums and galleries we haven’t done before. Nothing wrong in doing the good ones again but there is also a wealth of great places still to go. Galleries and museums in mainland Europe generally cost around 8 Euros a go which is good in that it means you pay and appreciate one rather than dashing to fill in as many free visits as possible in a limited time.

Deutsches Historisches Museum

Thursday, me and Dave went to the Deutsches Historisches Museum – the German Historical Museum. German history from the Middle Ages to the fall of the Wall. A very full and slightly old-fashioned museum that reminded me immensely of my past studies in history. Fascinating how ‘Germany’ develops from a concept and a mass of little kingdoms into a European super-power.

The museum was particularly interesting on the post-WW1 period where there is no denial the horror of Nazi totalitarianism after the fall of liberal Weimar. If only England could deal with its history (i.e. around the atrocities committed in the empire) so even handed rather than treating it like a nostalgia masturbation festival.

Judisches Museum

Friday it was to the Judisches Museum – Jewish Museum. We were going to be visiting this on a trip to Berlin previously, however halfway there I realised I was wearing my culturally inappropriate ‘Piggly Wiggly’ t-shirt. Sadly the main collection is being revamped and so can’t be viewed until Spring 2020. Also sadly there is no reduction in the charge to see half the museum.

However, it was still very good with a fascinating building that tries to give the feeling of what it is to be Jewish particularly in the 20th century (lots of slopes, corridors, and angles – no ‘normal’ rectangular rooms). The Garden of Exile particularly impacted me. A room-size piece of sculpture you walk around and which makes you feel sick and dizzy as it is meant to. Modern art that actually does what it sets out to do.

Health and Efficiency

Gym and jog-run

Only 2 days to fit in any exercise before I went to Berlin. Mon morning, it was the gym – my first trip in about a week. A good all-over workout. And I definitely could feel my muscles being worked. Sometimes a rest is what you need.

Then Tues morning it was a 5K jog-run. An OK time of just over 30 mins and 30 seconds. The fact I had not run for a week and a half took its toll. Shows that having a rest with some exercise can also put you back. My next jog-run will hopefully be a 10K a week on Sat once we are back from Berlin.

Weight

lose weight now

I tried to keep my food intake under control in Berlin sticking to my ‘don’t eat breakfast’ mantra. But holiday time it is hard to not treat yourself with cakes and nice meals. Plus all the alcohol. Sort of traded against with lots of walking but not sure that is going to be enough to mitigate a slight weight rise next week.

Books and Reading

‘Lies Sleeping’ by Ben Aaronovitch

Only one book completed last week. The latest in the series of adventures of policeman-wizard Peter Grant. Enormously silly and with nods in many directions including Harry Potter, Terry Pratchett, and Bryant & May (Chris Fowler). But great fun and easy to read. Another one of those series of books that I turn to every so often to make myself feel good about life. The continuing battle by the inhabitants of The Folly and the Met Police against The Faceless Man and Lesley – good cop turned bad.

Currently reading 2 books whilst on holiday. First is my kindle one, ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles. Sort of a novel about imprisonment albeit in a very civilised form. The other is the sci-fi giant ‘Helliconia’ by Brian Aldiss. A huge planet history space opera. Magnificent but daunting and needing to be dealt with piece by piece.

The Week Ahead

  • One final day to chill around Berlin before back to mad Brexit Britain – what have we become? Nobody envies us or wants to copy what we have done. 🙁
  • Work on Wed, Thurs, Fri though with a twist. Wed afternoon I am up to Liverpool and showing an MP around projects on Thurs
  • Exercise plan is gym on Fri and Sun morning with a 10K jog-run on Sat. Not expecting a good time for the latter.
  • My friends Emma and Trish arrive from Australia this week, so looking forward to seeing them 🙂
  • Back to the language apps and keeping my emails under control. For the latter I am simply deleting ones I have not got time to read – sentencing them to oblivion where ultimately we all end up. It’s very liberating. 🙂
  • Hopefully will finish my shorter kindle book this week but I think the giant ‘Helliconia’ is going to take more time.

And Finally…

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