Berlin’s image: Losing its cool

A disappointing missed opportunity?

WHEN a magazine proclaims on its cover that a city is the world’s “coolest”, it is often a sign that it has peaked. Newsweek did it to London in 1996, just as the city was becoming unaffordable for many cool people. Now it is Berlin’s turn. In October Stern, a German magazine, declared the city the coolest, giving special attention to its many great clubs for partying.The party scene is thriving, drawing tourists from Tel Aviv to Stockholm who fly in for long insomniac weekends. The most famous venue, Berghain, notorious for its arbitrary bouncers, is a world hub for techno music. But true cognoscenti are nostalgic for the rougher, anarchic days just after the Berlin Wall fell, when clubs popped up in abandoned spaces along the former no-man’s-land, always several steps ahead of tedious fire regulations. A new book, “Berlin Wonderland”, documents the “wild years between 1990-96” with black-and-white photographs.Some Berliners’ nostalgia goes further back. The hottest museum exhibition is about West Berlin as a freedom-loving, libertine and yet parochial…

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