Free Tours, Graffiti and The Hoff In Berlin

I warned you back in I Left My Heart In Berlin that I would be bombarding you with more Berlin Stories. I broke out the book as  a reminder and now I have stopped laughing at the unbelievable wit of  Salma and I, I am ready for the next one.

We figured the best way to get to see some cool places quickly and decide where we would want to spend more time would be to do one of the tours. We found some leaflets in our hostel that pointed us in the direction of a free (just tips to the tour guide) tour. I think it was called the alternative Berlin tour. Definitely a quick easy way to see lots of cool interesting places. The tour guide was friendly but as his buddy didn't turn up I think he was struggling to handle the crowd which sometime meant we missed out on the information as he seemed to have his favourites. He took us around the city showing us some cool Graffiti and night spots. As it was only our second day there it was very useful and we actually revisited a lot of the places.

I really liked RAW this is a place that apparently has some great parties it really reminded me of the custard factory in Birmingham when they have the whole street open. They had a big bus that I am guessing DJs play from. Sadly because of the snow we didn't get to go to any parties there but we wee told that in the summer it is a local hangout for artists. There are some galleries and markets around the buildings. We grabbed some sunglasses and almost got left behind. The tour guides really know what they are talking about and can tell you a lot of interesting history around some of the beautiful art.

Even if you are not a fan of street art some of the work you see here is so beautiful there is no denying the talent. The artists are from all over the world. I think this one  to the left was done by a guy from Australia.

One of my Favourites was the cowboy slipping on a banana peel as you can see below.

 Along with a few more there was wall to wall graffiti on every wall around every corner.

 RAW used to be squats at one point but was now occupied by galleries and cafes.

  This one was huge and must have taken forever to do.

The tour wasn't all graffiti the tour guide gave us lots of history about Berlin. The highlight of this for me was where we got to meet an old man who is a local legend. He built a house completely out of things he found right in the corner of where the Berlin wall originally met. He was in his garden and waved to us. The house was impressive and the story of the revolutionary protests this guy made are worth the tour alone.

Like all good history we finished the tour at the Berlin wall Eastside gallery. Some of the work on the wall is
so beautiful but there is just so much of it I will only share some of my favourite pieces at the end of the post.  We got to sign the other side of the wall and then went to hang out at YAAM a really cool and interesting youth place that had massive basketball courts, Jamaican food huts and lots of cool reggae music.Lots of open air raves and parties happen at YAAM mostly with an urban vibe we got invited to a huge hip hop party by the security guard who we randomly met at Belushi's on my birthday. Of the places we partied this had the most chilled and relaxing vibe. That was until all of a sudden the place was filled with cameras and floods of people. It turns out of all the days we chose to visit the Berlin wall so did the one and only HOFF. News crews were going mental. People were chasing him up stairs even falling over each other to squeeze through a door after he bust a sing on the steps.

We knew that we had to get a picture or nobody would believe us. He was there to sing to help protest that the city would be building apartments on the space on the other side of the Eastside gallery and to do so they would be removing parts of the wall. Although this seems slightly ironic after people fought hard to bring down the wall originally this part represents both history and art. Sadly he lost this battle but an agreement was made to put it back together after the work was finished.

After we got our picture we preferred to go sit in the bar and listen to some reggae rather than listening to the Hoff sing. Hot apple juice and rum in our hands we walked away from the Berlin wall while the sounds of the Hoff rang out in the air. These are the moments you just couldn't make up and it was kinda magical.

I will leave you with some more of the beautiful work from the wall.

I Will Always Be A Rebel Girl!

Remember when you were a teenager and your mother told you that you were just going through a phase? Much to my mothers distress I never did grow out of this 'phase' but really how bad a thing is that? From a young age I looked up to strong women who were not scared to say what was on their mind. Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist punk movement in the early 90s.

 I dragged my Dr Marten clad feet to school and constantly got told off for my ripped tights and scruffy hair but I just dragged off my patch ridden army bag and listened to my walkman. Blasting away the scream angst ridden vocals of women who cared about other women, who was angry about the issues we all face all the time and really say nothing about, women who just picked up an instrument and got on a stage. This world opened my eyes to a world where women can be anything they want to be!

Fast forward to now still in my boots (not the same pair thank god)  and I get an email that Vivid have a show on dedicated to Riot grrrl. Rebel Girl is on till Sunday and I suggest you go check it out if you have the chance. A celebration of a movement that lives on in many girls hearts. I couldn't miss out on this one.

Everyone knows that Bikini Kill were practically the queens of Riot Grrrl. Which is truly reflected in the film It changed My Life:Bikini Kill in the UK by Lucy Thane. This film sums up my teenage life. Filled with young girls filled with inspiration and passion from finally finding women that they can look up to. One rightly pointed out that through Riot Grrrl she had been introduced to amazing authors she never would have even heard of let alone read their works. This just shows that Riot Grrrl was a movement not just a music scene. Girls speak of the belonging they felt when they listened to Huggy Bear, Bikini kill, Babes in Toyland and how it helped them to accept themselves. How beautiful is it to hear another woman say that she no longer hated herself? That Riot Grrrl was a catalysis to help her get to the right place and if it only does that for women then how can it ever be wrong. This film really captures the passion created and fire of inspiration created.

Another piece in the show that I loved was the beautifully unique Riot Grrrl Alchemy film By Jennifer west. A lost art of working with real film. Jennifer West takes 16mm black and white and colour film footage of her and a friend having a food fight and makes it unrecogniseable by dancing on it, smearing it with cherry tomatoes, cinnamon, candy bars and more to display a beautiful image. She was inspired by the lyrics of  Bikini Kill , Le Tigre, and Sleater Kinney. The imagery from this piece is fascinating I could have watched it over and over. I will be keeping an eye out for more of her work.

There is even a chance to have a look through some Fanzines! If you do not know what a fanzine is keep track of my posts as I have one coming up about them.

Tonight there is a talk from Cazz Blase which sadly I can't make it to but I imagine will be both awesome and nostalgic. Just because the riot grrrl scene is no longer as big as it once was doesn't mean it is dead. For as long as there are inspirational, outspoken, proactive women there will always be a place for riot Grrl.

I will leave you with the song this show was named after make sure you you sing along riot not quiet ;)

Sushi it up until you can't eat anymore!

Munching Out At Woktastic Birmingham

I was first introduced to the wonderful world of unlimited sushi by the lovely Cherry. As she is a vegan when we dine we are limited so it is always good when we find somewhere like this. Go check out her blog for some great vegan suggestions and recipes. She even covers baby vegan issues.

We have been going to Woktastic for a good few years even before Cherry had her little one which only really dawned on us as we sat waiting for a table to come up. Usually this place is really easy to get a table especially if you do not mind sitting on the belt counters. We prefer the big tables near the counter though. You get a view of outside and easy access to all the sushi. Personally I find the counter too impersonal and cramped. We like to have a good natter. The owner is really friendly and recognised us hopefully for good reasons. A very bright and kooky decorated restaurant.I love the pictures all around the restaurant kinda with a toki doki vibe about them.

The sushi belt has such good variation considering that it is all you can eat. There are lots of different yummy California rolls, Seattle rolls and other yummy varieties. On the belt you can also get tempura, soup, veggies, noodles and this time there was even chicken. One of the reasons we go though is because there is a wide range of vegetarian and Vegan options. For 13.99 it is a total bargain. Drinks are pricey 2.00 for a can of coke but to be expected. If you go for a green tea you can have unlimited amounts. Lunch time all you can eat is cheaper too so get in before 4!

If sushi isn't your thing you can order a wide variety of japanese dishes off the normal menu. I have had the green curry before which was nice but I much prefer the sushi. I love loading them with ginger and wasabi.

Recently they have even added deserts onto the belt. I had some delicious cheesecake.

Sadly as Birmingham are on the quest to redevelop the whole of the city this place may not be about in it's current location so get in there and enjoy it while it is. No doubt as it it is very popular it will relocate.

Be warned though you will not leave hungry.

Her Ladys Pleasure

Sharing orgasms is no strange thing on a Friday night in Birmingham. When I received my beautiful invitation in the post to 'Her Lady's Pleasure" I didn't quite know what was in store for me, as  leading up to the event  besides the information on the invitation and the whiff of teasing photos everything was kept secret .I knew I just couldn't miss out.

I raved about Kate Spence's work before in one of my old blogs but since you guys missed that one I get to do it all over again. Kate is a very talented performance artist who pushes the boundaries and gets her audience thinking and interacting. This time round she joined forces with Temp0rary to bring this new venture together.

Greeted at the doors of The wig in Ladywood by a cloaked and masked figure I was ushered into a waiting area and presented with a gift. Surrounded by beautifully dressed people I suddenly wished I had followed the decedent dress code instead of rushing in from work red faced with a newspaper just in case it rained. I know the picture of glamour aren't I? The suspense built as we waited until the red cloaked figure politely asked us to follow them up the stairs. I could tell everyone was slightly nervous but excited about what lay ahead.

Slowly we were leaked into a darkened room. Presented with an elegant mask we stumbled our way in silence into an amazing sight. In front of us was a room adorned with flowers as if we had been tempted into the secret garden by the creatures from eyes wide shut. behind a transparent screen was a huge swing with trails of flowers and an elegantly dressed woman (Kate Spence herself) swinging as if completely unaware that of the voyeur on her experience.

While served tea and waited on by these polite masked people all eyes were on the swing. A projection of images, spoken word and music played added to the surreal experience. Never have I seen someone so happy as my fellow masked guest when the cake arrived.Amazing cake it was too. I missed the fact that there were sensors that guests were touching to alter the mood of the music and projections.

Ont he way out we were given a detailed letter explaining the journey we had just embarked on and it all became more of a reality. I really enjoyed this performance and I urge you all to keep an eye out for future shows.

 I felt like I had stepped into the bubble in the labyrinth when David Bowie takes Sarah to a masked ball a delightfully surreal experience.