The concept of space has always intrigued me. That, I, as a marginalised moving mass of blood, flesh and bones can occupy all the invisibility around and above me within the rational boundaries of my community and the environment. The Oxford dictionary defines space as a continuous area or expanse that is free, available and/or unoccupied. Walking around in a black femme-queer body has limited the number of spaces I can occupy and feel safe in. A friend of mine (who I shall not name drop) introduced me to the concept of ‘safer space’ which dissimilar to the mythical ‘safe space’ is not promising total reprieve but instead gives a more transparent picture of your surroundings and in turn builds your internal self-awareness on what to expect in certain spaces. It is in this spirit of safer spaces that I ask you to take a gander with me down this beautiful city called Berlin where once upon a time (1884-1885 to be exact) the land of our fathers was scrambled over but this is not about that. It can be about that. If you want it to be. Safer spaces remember? Keep up.
In the true nature of scrambles you are probably scrambling out of bed after a night of god-knows-who-did-what-now. You are looking to find yourself some Ethiopian espresso, wifi and scrambled eggs. Preferably in that order. In the fashion of Berlin breakfasts which usually start at five to lunch Two and Two opens its doors at ten o’clock serving brunch and light snacks until six o’clock. It is the perfect place to hog wifi while you answer Facebook quizzes in the disguise of ‘I have an important email to answer…’
Focusing on their Franco-Japanese background the owners Eri and Tose hand make every item of their delicate menu which ranges from baguettes with yummy fillings, and generous portions of cake. While content with your ahem ‘e-mail sending’ you can browse through the cafe’s stationary booth which features Japanese stationary from cult brands such as ombow, Ohto, United Bees, Midori, Hamada Notes, Delfonics, Mark’s, and much more.
Your stomach is heated and while your mind is still alert from that Ethiopian Espresso I implore you to get up, kindred, before the itis sets in. Pick up your bag of Japanese stationary (I know you splurged you lavish being you). All roads lead to Maybachufer but before you leave that glorious free wifi please go to your social media and search for Black Brown Berlin in case you need some solidarity on your travels.Now that that is out of the way, get up and out the door. Our next stop is the channel.
Nobody I know describes Maybachufer as a safe space. Now why would I be luring you to this unsafe space you might ask. If you are anything like me you must love people watching or if you have other kinks (like maybe you love people watching you) either way at Maybachufer you will get the opportunity to do just that. Bring a drank from one of the many Späti’s you will pass on your way there and find a spot to watch both water and human. If you are lucky you might also catch the Neukölln market that runs on the channel on Tuesdays, Fridays and some Saturdays. You will most certainly catch a busker or street musician so keep your coinage ready if you are into that sort of philanthropy.
Scrambled eggs long digested I suppose you are feeling a bit hangry from all the people watching and knowing Berliners they didn’t disappoint. Gather yourself fellow sojourner and Hop on the M29 bus near by in the direction of Roseneck. Now before you think I am leading you to some abandoned buildings. Stay with me. Kreuzberg is like one large abandoned building. Stay with me. You will like this abandoned building. Görlitzerbahnhof would be your stop and as you stumble out of the bus keep your hand on your fanny pack. I know you are wearing one because you are sensible. Take the 11 minute walk to Admiral Strasse after bumping shoulders with Berlins finest you will arrive at Südblock.
An irrefutably significant queer space Südblock attracts and holds space for people from all walks of life and experiences. Offering a cafe, bar and party venue in a contrasting space that does not tolerate violence towards difference.Smile and pat yourself on the back. You are safer here. You know you are home. There are fries here. There are queer people and you are hangry. Take a seat and eat your fries one at a time.
Someone has the glazed eyes of those who indulge in too many fries but we are not judging. This is Berlin and you are living your best queer life. A ten minute walk easily turns into a thirty minute walk when one has spent an afternoon indulging in fried tubers slathered in a paste of red pulpy fruit.A few stone throws away from you is a monument dedicated to someone who just like you had dreams of the Berlin you now saunter about. I know it is not perfect. You get weird looks and the tension for your survival still keeps you on edge but hear me out. May-Ayim. Say her name. Mumble it under your breath if the stares get too many. I swear it works like a magical cloak of invisibility if you say it three times. Now they see you. Now they don’t. At your own will.
Taking the U1 two stops until SchlesischesTor gets you to May-Ayim Ufer for a little bit of Afro-German history. May-Ayim was an Afro-German poet, educator and activist. A founding figure of resistance against German racism and cultural microaggressions that kept black women in the margins of German society. Through her work, especially poetry and thesis May themized and probelimetized the issues faced by black women living in Germany. Fourteen years after her death a street, formerly named after a colonialist was renamed in her honour making it the first time in German history where someone who resisted colonialism took over a name of someone who propelled it. Say her name, remember that you can today breathe and walk down channels because May-Ayim was here.
The day is coming to a close and you my weary traveller must put down your (I am sure quite heavy bag) Japanese stationery and pore on your day’s voyages. There is no better place to do so over aa cold rum-punch than at Rosa Caleta.
The restaurant describes its concept as; ‘a space for people to enjoy quality food in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere and meet other people from a wide international network.’ Inspired by the flavours of Jamaican cuisine the menu fuses together Carribean influences with European technique and ingredients gifting your palette with a taste to savour for life.
I am going to leave you here. In the safer hands of Troy Lopez and his very capable staff. I don’t know how you are getting home. I don’t even know where you live.
* * *
Contributed by Goitseone Montsho