Sunday Karaoke in Berlin’s Mauerpark has become somewhat of a weekend institution. Major newspapers worldwide have written articles about the “Bearpit Karaoke” phenomenon.
Tourists have given it their TripAdvisor seal of approval. YouTube explodes with Bearpit Karaoke videos. Even Flickr groups have been created, all dedicated to spreading the word, sound, and image of something you probably won’t really enjoy until you’re right in the middle of it.
Heck, you can even find EuroCheapo’s tribute to Mauerpark’s Bearpit Karaoke here.
Unfortunately, the happening’s popularity may have ultimately led to its downfall. An estimated 50,000 people are attracted to Mauerpark every weekend, most of them foreign tourists.
Singing a sad tune
The microeconomy of refreshments which had sprung up around the Karaoke pit left inordinate piles of garbage in its wake. The beleaguered patch of parched grass, supported by a modest tax budget that provided neither toilets nor capacious trash removal services, was simply unprepared for the masses enjoying its grubby, unpretentious vibe. Neighborhood groups began to complain that they were being forced out of “their” park, that a littered field was no longer a safe place for their kids to play.
And so it’s come down to this: In order to continue having Sunday Karaoke at all, the organizer Joe Hatchiban (who is remunerated only by donations for his efforts) must receive an event permit from the local council.
The council, in its imminent wisdom, has decided that Karaoke should not have a monopoly on the space, and is therefore only granting sporadic use, in no apparent pattern (i.e. every two weeks). And even if Hatchiban has a permit for a given weekend, Sunday Karaoke only takes place in good weather.
The best way to keep abreast of whether or not there will be Sunday Karaoke during your visit is to follow the Facebook page “Sonntags Karaoke im Mauerpark,” which is regularly updated by the man himself. And the best ways to make sure Sunday Karaoke can exist in perpetuity: donate directly to Hatchiban, and pick up after yourself!
While we’re at it, here are some more places to get your sing on in Berlin: