By C H Kwak in Berlin—
In 2001, a relatively obscure local politician named Klaus Wowereit proudly declared: “I’m gay, and it’s a good thing.” Berliners wasted no time electing him mayor, and he has been in office ever since. San Francisco may have boys with flowers in their hair, but Berlin is arguably the most gay-friendly city.
Mayor Wowereit, affectionately called “Wowi,” also popularized the phrase “poor but sexy” to describe this bankrupt city. So no wonder Berlin is a Cheapo heaven—even the high glam of gay clubs won’t set you back too much.
Here are a few resources you need for a gay ol’ time in the world’s queer capital on the cheap.
The free monthly queer mag is your one-stop resource for all things gay. You won’t need much German to read the calendar section at the back: S&M, after all, is “S&M” in German, too. You’ll see dozens of events and parties listed every day.
2. Queer Beer Thursday
Sredzkistr. 64, 10405 Berlin
Miniscule Perle in Prenzlauer Berg hosts a popular English speakers’ gathering every Thursday, where expats and tourists mingle. If you want to pick up information (and more) without affecting umlauts, this is the place to be.
Berlin’s gay scene is largely dominated by small bars. Very few clubs match SchwuZ’s longevity and diversity. Check the calendar before you go–or you might be surprised to find a gay goth night, a ladies-only gathering, or even a foam party (Yes, we’re still reliving the ’90s here. Stop judging us).
Extra cheapo tip: No one wants to be seen there too early, but the cover’s cheaper before midnight. Here’s how locals do it: Pay first, get your hand stamped, then take a seat in the popular ground floor bar for a drink before heading into the club. I repeat: stop judging us.
4. Die Busche
Warschauer Platz 18
(030) 296 08 00
No one ever admits to going here, but mysteriously the place gets packed as the night wears on. It may be the lowest rung in the hierarchy of queer establishments, but the unabashedly tacky atmosphere makes for a fun, down-to-earth evening out. (Brace yourself for top 40 hits… from a few years ago.) Also, it may be the only queer place in town where girls outnumber boys.
Alexander Straße 7
If Die Busche is low, GMF is as high as it gets–literally. The decadent Sunday party radiates thumping music from the dizzying heights of a high-rise at Alexanderplatz. By Berlin standards, the €10 cover is hefty, but if you’re planning on staying out all night, the rooftop seats are probably more plush than your hostel bed.
Also in our guide: We don’t just stop at clubs and bars; we also have great recommendations for the most affordable hotels in Berlin, all of them visited and inspected by our editors. Read our reviews (and see our photos) in our Berlin guide.