In reality it´s just a very friendly place for alternative people (mainly punks, but not only) to drink some underpriced beers, see (and arrange) a gig for minimum to no money and just enjoy yourself without anyone telling you what to do and how to do it.
Every squat is of course inhabited, and the people living there are those who also either organize stuff or help out with the bar and food. You can also have delicious vegan food in squats almost every day, and it´s ridiculously cheap!
After hanging out mostly in these kind of places (and ditching the whole commercial goth clubs/ parties which we were so stoked about back in Israel) I have noticed a few characters which happen to appear in squat bars quite often. An opportunity for a fun post which an observer like me could never ignore.
Of course there is a difference between visiting squats than living in them, so a more involved punker would state otherwise or mention other types, but these are the ones I have seen in almost every squat in Berlin, bringing the subject of squats from a stranger´s point of view.
1. The nice crusty girl or guy at the bar
They are mostly on the other side of the bar giving you drinks to enjoy and feel like home. They are super nice and always smile at you, even when you are stumbling with your German. Maybe they live in the squat, maybe not, but they seem to always have a friend at the bar who just sits there with them to chat. A mohawk of dirty dreads, patched clothes, tattoos, huge flesh tunnels... they have it all.
2. The one homeless guy
He is just a homeless guy, has nothing to do with the scene but nevertheless is always given food for free whenever the kitchen is open. He then just sits there by himself and eats, but if he talks to someone he is always very polite. A fine example of the positive side of the punk scene.
Köpi, where we mostly go to concerts. It was also the first ever squat we´ve been to in Berlin, which at the time also held the first event we´ve visited right after moving. The place is a lot more colorful from the outside at the moment and a lot more interesting on the inside, but taking pictures at squats is prohibited, since the places allegedly serve for society beneficial purposes, and if someone finds out what is really going on there (aka alcohol, parties, and well- drugs) it would be shut down with no trace of "democracy" as an excuse.
3. The group of tourists
They´ve stumbled in by mistake, and quickly realized what a local treasure they have found. Holding themselves from taking pictures and eyeing every piece of alternativeness they can find, the tourists are slightly annoying, but as long as they don´t use their mobile phones to document the place they are not bothering anyone. Needless to say I was one of them until I got used to the place.
4. The junkie / the drunk
Mostly seen in an event where there´s loud music, the drunk is not as bad as the junkie, since he would stumble here and there with his beer, shout something to no one and probably will pass out somewhere.
The junkie however is clingy, and if not dancing himself away in his own world he will start talking with you about nonsense only he understands (the term Kopfkino has never been so appropriate). Get away from him, you don´t need his shit right now, unless you came to the squat not for the alcohol... don´t
overdo drugs, be careful. Every body live their own lives and make their own choices, and this is perhaps the more stereotypical side of squats.
5. The people who come with numerous dogs
There´s always this group of people who bring 2 other friends and about 5 more dogs. It´s a nice thing to be sitting with a bunch of dogs playing around you, but not so nice if the music is very loud and the dogs must bear it. Some places ask not to bring dogs inside, but a lot of people still bring them in even when there´s a concert, which is not that cool in my opinion.
There are a lot more, for example: the group of foreigners who get really drunk and blabber really loudly in their own language;
or- the one 100 year old person who has been in the scene forever and probably has established the squat himself somewhere in the 80s or something;
possibly a single black person who doesn´t speak the local language and is maybe a refuge, or just hanging out there and is always very nice and fun;
or even- the couple of hipsters who evidently have nothing to do with the diy scene and are probably going to an electro party afterwards but who are still occupying the chairs minding nobody, and the list goes on and on...
The nice part is that you don´t have to look a certain way to enjoy these places, no one will raise an eyebrow at you (well, unless you look like a nazi). There are different kinds of people in every squat, but the general impression is always very positive.
That´s about it for now, as a lot can be said about the jem which the diy scene in Berlin really is. I am of course romanticizing things since I could have never written this post while living in Israel, where squats are illegal. At any rate, when I think of Berlin I think of the squats and the diverse layers of the alternative scene which are unlikely to be seen anywhere else in such great number. The squats is what fascinates me, this is Berlin for me.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!