Now that is a good title. Sounds like a band name, right?!
Okay, play this while you read the opening paragraph for ambiance:
Hello! And welcome to another funky edition of…
To jog your memories, here’s the story so far:
Our hero, Dan, visited Berlin in the summer of 2016. He fell in love with the city, and saved his money to escape his work/sleep cycle in England for adventures on the continent! Flying out on the 4th of October, he lived in hostels, crashed at friends, and finally found a flat! Between dozens of zany adventures, he has also now found a cushy job. It looks like everything might just work out okay for him! Or… will it?
Last Friday it was Vic’s birthday night out. To mark the occasion we headed to Liquidrom, a big ol’ German spa. When arranging it earlier that day, a panicked Victoria messaged me saying she’d heard a co-worker say it was a nude spa. I’m pretty cool with public nudity after a couple of months here. There are just knobs and tits everywhere. It’s a fact of Berlin life. Vic said she didn’t want to go if she had to be naked, however. I checked it out, and apparently it was only the saunas and steam rooms that had a strict no-clothes policy.
Our usual crowd headed down there, and paid the hefty entry of €19. Turns out this is a legitimate health spa, not some hipster Kreuzberg aquatic party den. The décor reeked of tranquillity and incense, and fat yellow candles flickered at intervals down the dreamy corridors. The changing rooms were mixed, so you’re immediately socked in the face with the full spectrum of the human form when you enter. We changed and wandered through the complex, past sunbeds in front of a giant window facing the stars, past a long bar with a singer on a stool crooning softly into a microphone, and past a few bollock naked old women chatting amiably over margaritas.
The main room is a huge salt pool under a low, arched ceiling that funnels up towards its centre. Gentle, coloured lights around the outside cast trippy projections onto the walls, and the water’s natural glittering fills the room with dancing reflections. Music is piped in softly through hidden speakers, both above and under the water. It feels like what I imagine being swallowed by a big happy whale would feel like. Except, you know, without all the teeth and krill and the gigantic flopping tongue and corrosive stomach acids and whatnot.
We waded into the pool, chatting. I was surprised to find that the shape of the room makes for an astonishing echo chamber. If you speak in the centre of the pool, the vaulted ceiling carries it effortlessly to every corner of the room. We all separated in order to float alone in complete relaxation. I was quite enjoying the sensation of floating so easily, and was playing with my breathing to test the effect. I got into a little game with myself – breath in, bob up, breath out, sink, breath in, bob up, breath out, sink. I was a happy, playful otter.
After the salt pool we tried the hot tub, in an outside section decorated with exotic plants and zen rockeries. Approaching it, I glanced over to discover it was occupied by a few naked women, one of whom was probably in her late 20’s, as opposed to the majority of older nudies. I daintily stepped inside, and the naked women shuffled over to make room. It’s interesting, public nudity. Something that it really accentuates is the difference between nudity and sex. Take lust out of the equation, and clothes become irrelevant. On or off, it’s just a human being. A naked body isn’t automatically a sexual entity – that’s why all this is possible. For some reason, that thought never occurred to me before Berlin.
The naked young woman climbed out of the pool and strode across the decking to her towel, heading inside without bothering to wrap it round her body. As I watched the nude people inside, Klara spotted me gazing. She said it seemed I was too aware of/amazed by all the nudity, and that I should just ignore it and relax. I think this is a silly attitude to have. Ignoring something that is obviously unusual in an attempt to seem mature is, to me, infinitely less so. It fascinates me what there is to be learned. Seeing other nude members of your gender does wonders for your own comfort with your body. All I’ve ever seen of naked men, all my knowledge of the male body besides my own, comes from either Hollywood films or pornography – and both are infamous for projecting skewed standards of how people look.
In the spa, I felt happy watching all the shapes and sizes of people walking around in complete comfort. To me, nudity isn’t something to be ignored in an effort to seem bohemian; it’s something to be delighted by, and to learn from. So, I joined them. I left the tub, ditched my trunks, and tested out a few steam rooms and saunas, wandering in the buff from one to the other. No one looked at me. No reaction at all. When everyone is naked, no one is. I sat in the hottest sauna, the air stinging my lungs as I breathed in, sweat dripping from my nose, a dozen people around me, and I felt totally and completely comfortable. It was lovely.
I re-joined the others after my ass-out odyssey. The girls had been chatting to a couple of beefy Spaniards with doctorates in the hot tub. We left the spa, and after all the floating and sweating and relaxing, I didn’t really speak for the next 20 minutes from sheer exhaustion.
We got the U Bahn to a bar that Vic had heard of, called Klo. As we approached, we saw a girl enter with her boyfriend. She opened the door, and immediately recoiled and screamed; a wondrous first impression.We tentatively inched the door open and crowded inside, and as one we were suddenly doused in a squirt of cold water to our faces from a hidden water pistol, hooked up to the door. A jet of water went right in my mouth, which was open, mid sentence. It was unpleasant. Similar to Szimpla Kert in Budapest (but less awesome) Klo is a jangling, claustrophic collection of nightmare bric-a-brac, paint chipped sex dolls, camo netting, eyelash batting mannequins, stuffed gorillas, and everything in between.
Our walk through the bar was like entering the Temple of Doom, with us tripping unseen sensors every few feet, setting off new traps and pranks. As I passed a tall, stoic mannequin wearing sunglasses and a long overcoat, I must have crossed a hidden motion detector, because the mannequin flung open his coat and a giant, spring loaded dildo leapt up, waggling at me while the statue cackled. No one else even bloody noticed, they’d already found a table and were getting sat down while I was being sexually harassed and mocked by an evil doll. I sat down with them, dazed and baffled and dehydrated, asking if they’d seen the giant cock that meatslapped me. Nope. Great.
All the seating is odd. People were sat on various toilets dotted around, eating their evening meal. One group of friends were perched on two coffins, laid out as benches. If the aim of the bar was to push boundaries and evoke a general feeling of revulsion, they nailed it. Everywhere I looked there was some macabre object. A couple of TV screens were playing cartoons. They were animated in the same style as Loony Tunes, and had similar adventures, except that they all had giant, erect cocks, and occasionally humped each other. This is what I mean: there is just no escaping dicks in Berlin.
We only had one drink as it was pricey, then whizzed back to Kotbusser Tor for a pint at the much more normal Café Kotti, and chilli cheese fries at the always-incredible Burgermeister, before I bought the world’s most unnecessary kebab (despite the others telling me I was a fool and would never finish it), couldn’t finish it, and headed home.
Beers swilled – 6
Takeaways consumed – 2
Tits witnessed – 13
Dicks observed – 10
Revelations about the nature of sexuality – 1
Violated by a statue – 1