APRIL 18th, 2020 

Life in the time of Corona

Berlin is a city of extremes and community. Many Berliners are extremely passionate about their “Kiez” (Neighbourhood), some even going as far as never leaving their postcode. I’ve participated in the Berlin nightlife scene from the first moment I stepped foot here 3 years ago. People from all over the world travel here to get packed like sardines with a thousand other human beings in a sweaty hot club. The music is thumping, the walls are frequently dripping from the sheer humidity of the space. I’ve seen people hug and kiss their friends on the dance floor with such genuineness that for a moment, one might believe they’re at an airport arrival hall. It is often romanticised but true that here, people do not just go to clubs/raves to party but to also experience intimacy and human contact. 

It is also easy as a newcomer to feel alone here but the queer nightlife scene has provided me with a community closer than family. Many people who are not accepted by their families run away to find themselves falling in love with friends thicker than blood. It is no surprise that many of my friends are mostly made up of artists, writers, performers, musicians, DJs, producers, photographers etc. Everyone I knew started losing their jobs, clubs and bars started to close and club nights were cancelled. A party that I had been planning for months had been postponed, anything involving a large number of people gathering just wasn’t viable anymore. 

I’m going to come out and admit this now - I’m obsessed with social media. I spend probably 70% of my time on it or checking it. I’m not just addicted but completely intrigued by the micro-communities and subcultures on there. In a way, Corona is bringing people together, although it has also forced people to rethink their business models. People that aren’t usually into “being online” are suddenly thrown into cyberspace. It is no surprise that people from the nightlife scene have started using social media as a platform to publish and perform. Drag queens started doing entire shows on it from their bedrooms, DJs streaming from living room tables, artists giving workshops. The other day I bought a handmade professionally sewed face mask from somebody who had lost work as a costume designer for drag shows, I’ve also bought home made chilli from chefs who now have no restaurant to work in, another one of my dearest friends - a talented photographer has started to successfully read tarot online for others. I find myself being able to access all of this, just through social media. 

My parents and many skeptical people used to laugh off these platforms as something pointless. They’re the same people that dismissed the internet too, “its full of dangerous strangers!” they would say. Currently there are numerous communities on it organising and raising collective funds. Especially regarding the Berlin nightlife scene where rents still need to be paid, Corona has placed entire communities, in a dangerous and precarious situations. Especially in the queer scene, many people feared their beloved spaces would be closed down. Clubcommunity, an organisation here bridging the nightlife scene together, has started an online streaming initiative - “UnitedWeStream”. They’ve recently started a campaign using digital billboards at bus stops and underground stations telling people “we hope you do not read this, we hope you stay home”, encouraging clubbers to support the scene from their homes instead. I also see many transgender and queer communities on social media organising funds for people who can not apply for governmental help. As Governments all over the world start to give their people Corona living funds, many have also been left out due to Bureaucracy. I’ve been touched by people here signing up to help one another - going grocery shopping for those who can’t or a listening ear on the phone for the anxious. 

Before Corona, I’ve had numerous discussions defending the internet. There are many people who believe the internet is divisive but here’s my argument, the internet is a tool and it is only as divisive as you want it to be. 

We all should familiarise ourselves with it because knowledge is power and this virus is already acting as a catalyst, slingshotting us into an era of digitalisation. We can already learn from this month of mandatory isolation that community is everything and we can and should focus on that, developing tools bringing us all together instead of believing that staring at your phone will pull us apart. 

And as they say in a popular Disney movie, we’re all in this together.

what is something you'd like to do that you can't?

Throw a physical party