‘Cosmo Gay’: A Guide to the Berlin Mitte Gay Scene

*You are reading the Needle’s Queer Guide to Berlin

A gay scene is developing in Berlin’s Mitte, and it’s an aesthetic we haven’t seen much of in Berlin before.

Maybe you like a sleek metropolitan look, with a fancy cocktail, a polyglot professional crowd, the opportunity to dress up a little in your after-work clothes. Maybe you’d like to meet a professional gay man, maybe someone working in Berlin’s ‘Silicon Allee’, with extra euros to spend, and a tight schedule between Crossfit and team meetings. Well, the former East is definitely the right place then to hang with a decidedly younger, professional, crowd. Let’s call it a ‘cosmo gay’ atmosphere; and it’s the result of the gentrification that has swept the erstwhile arty quarter.

It now has a small number of classy gay institutions (there are not many, but they are growing, and the ones here are already well-enough established to have created something of a scene). And it’s a great place to drink a mighty awesome Dark and Stormy.

And if this all makes you want to smash corporate storefront windows, then check out our Kreuzberg-Neukölln section instead.

Are prices more expensive here than elsewhere?

It’s definitely more of a cocktail scene than beer. Cocktails will set you back around 9 EUR  a drink––which is similar to prices in Schöneberg––but you can still find reasonably-priced beer. We’re in Germany after all.

And what are some venues where I can go out here?

Berlin is traditionally a blue collar city, so this ‘professional’ scene is just getting off the ground. Get off at Hackescher Markt U-Bahn. 9 or 10pm is again a good time to go out here.

TheCoven has cocktails and beer, in a bright brick-walled space close to the S-Bahn tracks. I’m reminded a little of London bars that get the after-work crowd from the City. Then move on to…

Bar Saint Jean, in its downstairs location on Steinstraße, although the crowd in warm weather spills up into the street. They have a slick metropolitan darkened bar and you might imagine the patrons might be architects and art dealers for all the Mykita eyeglasses.

Around the corner is the much less slick and more neighbourhoody affair, Betty-F. It feels like a drinks party in a cosy basement suite.

If you didn’t manage to leave TheCoven, you can go opposite to The Liberate, a cocktail bar (mixed crowd) in the style of the 1920s. Its rather ordinary sign does not quite prepare you for the plush gold interior (with prices hovering around the 12 EUR mark for a cocktail). It’s open until the wee hours.

For clubs, you can try (on the right night), GMF on top of a skyscraper in Alexanderplatz with a roof garden, a place that attracts young people from all over the city.

If you want an extreme contrast to all this glitz, then stop by the Besenkammer (the ‘Broom Closet’). It is a very smoky oldtimer (one of the oldest bars in the city), the size of a shoebox, located––of all places––under the S-Bahn tracks in Alexanderplatz. It’s open 24/7, so you might pass it on your way to work and wonder why the men of a certain age are auto-destructing inside. A very Berlin affair, it provides a high level of Schnautze, along with a disastrous bricolage of an interior. Visitors might find the Besenkammer at turns unwelcoming and even downright disturbing. Or… just maybe it will all be a huge relief after Mitte’s poshness. Or… just maybe you’ll go running back to Bar Saint Jean for a drink served in heavy crystal with a candied caramelized orange.

What are the age-bracket like here?

Pretty much every age. Although GMF tends to be on the younger, pretty-boy, side. The bars are very mixed in age, as in most other venues in Berlin.

The changes in Mitte are a sign of the times… but you might as well drink a good cocktail as the boat sinks.

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