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Scene in Berlin

Waving a fond farewell to 2010 in Berlin

As yet another year draws to a close, it's time to sit down with a glass of hot mulled wine, draw the curtains on all that awful snow and look back at some of Berlin's highlights from 2010.

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No sooner had all the carcasses from the New Year's fireworks been cleared away - in itself worthy of a mention, given that by noon on January 1st you'd never believe "Silvester" had happened in the first place - than Berlin was bracing itself for "business as usual."

Arguably the first cultural highlight of the year was the Berlinale film festival, one of Europe's most highly regarded for those in the industry who allegedly move and/or shake (depending on personal taste, I assume).

The jewel in the crown of this year's event was the premiere of the complete version of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent classic "Metropolis."

The film, which partly tells the story of class division and the struggle of the good worker against the exploitative overlord, was nicely mirrored in real life; the glitterati sat in the warmth of the Friedrichstadtpalast to watch the film while the proles shivered in sub-zero temperatures and took in the film on an outdoor screen at the Brandenburg Gate. Nice.

Berlin Fashion Week 2010 Mode Spring/Summer 2011

Fashion in Berlin is a DIY affair: no one on the streets looks like this

Fashion clashes

Fashion Week also rolled into the city once more, an event which is truly baffling to those who don't really care about clothes. All of the established and up-and-coming designers were present and correct, but the one thing about this event that really sticks out is how utterly out of place the whole thing is in a city like Berlin.

Sure, Berliners are a fashion-conscious lot, but they express their individuality in a DIY, thrifty way, sporting eye-catching outfits cobbled together for 50 cents from the local charity store or flea market.

The sight of all of those rail-thin Stepford Wives models being chauffeured around the city in BMWs with blacked out windows was enough to have your fashion-savvy but utterly broke Mitte hipster on the verge of pelting the car with eggs.

Popkomm

Berlin has music in its heart; it's a city where you can barely walk five paces without tripping over a record store or hidden club - or perhaps even worse, some oddball busking on the street.

Popkomm, Europe's biggest music industry trade fair, rolled into town in summer bringing with it absolutely no music whatsoever. It did look nice but was a rather silent affair.

Major labels were in attendance, but, sadly, Berlin's varied and extremely interesting network of indie labels (not to mention the army of freaks who run them) were nowhere to be seen.

Musik Konzert Live Konzert Konzertpublikum

Berlin Festival 2010: tainted by the shadow of the Duisburg Love Parade

Tempelhof revival

Popkomm culminated with yet another musical highlight, the now well-established Berlin Festival featuring performances from Caribou, Atari Teenage Riot, Fever Ray and Robyn, among others.

The event, however, ended on a sour note. As arguably the first major music event since the Love Parade tragedy in Duisburg, which saw 21 people lose their lives and a further 150 injured in a tunnel crush, organizers were clearly expecting trouble and responded with a knee-jerk reaction of questionable proportions.

The collosal apron of Tempelhof airport - a space big enough to allow the free flow of a herd of wildebeest - was fenced off and control points to both of the hangars erected. Once one of the hangars was officially full enough, the barriers were closed off. The poor kids who had parted with 70 euros ($94) couldn't get in to see their favorite bands play.

But at least everyone can be pleased that the festival took place in Berlin's now-defunct Tempelhof Airport. It was nice to see the spectacular piece of architecture repeatedly pressed into service during 2010 rather than left to rot.

It's a shame the city of Berlin couldn't come up with something more imaginative to do with the acres of land attached to the terminal. Berlin now boasts the only park in the world with two huge runways cutting through it.

Junge Leute in einer Karaokebar

Believe it or not, karaoke's popularity soared during 2010

In other news...

2010 has been the year of the revival with a number of age-old pasttimes resurfacing and being repackaged by ever-inventive Berliners.

Surprise number one saw a favorite embarrassment - karoke - enjoy an enormous resurgence in popularity with bars like Monster Ronson's doing roaring trade and the now legendary Bear Pit Karaoke on Sundays in Mauerpark attracting around 10,000 visitors weekly.

More niche, but still on the up, are rollerdiscos: a craze from the 70s, which is being rediscovered by Berlin's latest generation of clubbers. In an ironic twist, while people like me who choose not to trundle around a club on wheels slowly lose the use of their legs as the night progresses, those crazy kids on rollerboots increasingly find their feet.

2010 was also the year where the district of Neukoelln suddenly became the place to be. Once upon a time, your average Berliner would sooner move to Basra than Neukoelln; now, it's hotter than, well, rollerdiscos.

Westward expansion

As the wave of gentrification forcec fashion-conscious and broke Berliners further southwest through Mitte and Kreuzberg, there was nowhere else to go but Neukoelln. Once regarded as an off-limits ghetto, the area - particularly around Weserstrasse - has been transformed into a never-ending row of galleries, cool bars and trendy shops. I am sure the people who have lived there for years are thrilled.

As 2010 draws to a close, and the city is crippled by 50 foot snow drifts and a public transport system in meltdown - yes, Berliners may have learned to smile this year but seemingly at the expense of their efficiency - we can all look back on another year packed with highs and lows.

Leichtathletik WM - Welcome Night Flash-Galerie

New Year's Eve in Berlin: always a subtle, low-key affair



And while the city gears up for another wild New Year's Eve followed by the traditional January first snowball fight, we can all brace ourselves for much more of the same in 2011.

It's just marvellous living here!

Gavin Blackburn has indeed been to all of the events listed above ... but has no intention of moving to Neukoelln.

Editor: Greg Wiser

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