By Oren Sam
London has culture and theater, Paris is the City of Lights, Rome has the charms of antiques and Christianity, but Berlin has the sexy vibe. From a people that persecuted anything that was different to a city that embraces such a “different” lifestyle, this is the story of Berlin, specifically Gay Fetish Berlin.
Outside the Nollendorfplatz underground station stands the gay memorial plaque that commemorates those destroyed by the Nazi regime. At the same spot on a lovely September Saturday, a Tsunami of gay men is leaving the station on their way to their “Mecca,” the annual Folsom Europe Fair.
Every first and second Saturday in September, thousands of fetish men—and curious onlookers—gather together to celebrate their kinkiness. It’s been a tradition since 2004 and originates in San Francisco’s Folsom Fair.So what’s on the agenda? Thousands of men dressed in leather? Check. Flogging spectacles? Check. German beer that pours like water? Check.
The weekend starts with the Perverts party on Friday, which is more fisting/dirty themed. The location changes every year, but it is usually a sleazy massive warehouse. This is not a party for the faint-hearted. The big sling area that is used for fisting sessions is the icing on the fetish cake.
Celebrations continue with the main event of the weekend: The Folsom Fair, taking place on Saturday, from the late-morning hours until early evening hours on Fugger/ Martin-Luther Streets. In the morning the shop stands (ROB, Mister B, and other brands) get organized while the people keep pouring in. The peak is between 13:00 and 16:00 hours, when probably more than 10,000 people march down the streets in their boots and fetish gear.
So what should you wear for such an event? Leather is the dominant substance. Men present their hottest gear to show off. If it’s not your first Folsom you can definitely recognize who’s new in the game and who has more leather clothing than cardigans in his closet. A beginner (or someone who wants to just show off his pecks) would put a harness on with a bracelet on his arm. An intermediate “student” would put on hot leather denim and a T-shirt. The advanced guys wouldn’t show you their own skin (as they consider what they wear their second skin): leather shirts underneath massive biker’s jackets, gloves, a cap, and a slave around their boots pulled by a collar. The last group is the majority, but don’t be surprised: It’s Berlin!
Besides leather, rubber is pretty dominant. Other fetish groups include the Skin guys (shaved heads, scribbled jeans, and a jumper) and the Bears. With all the dog wannabes on the floor, the place looks like an amazing human zoo. Where else could you find a place that allows you to do that in the middle of the day?
When the sun sets, the crowd begins to spread and leave, but this is not the end. These guys need their fetish beauty sleep (and their gear oiled) as tonight the main party of the Folsom weekend takes place: the Pig party, a more divers party than its “Perverts” dirty twin. On top of the dark areas, you also have a big dance floor and a bar.
Besides these two parties, the main fetish club is the Mutchmann’s on Fugger Street. The place opens from Wednesday until Sunday. On Folsom week every night is dedicated to a different fetish group; Thursday is leather night (heavy leather dress code) and Friday is rubber night (heavy rubber dress code). This club is more intimate than the others and offers a cozy sleazy atmosphere.
Folsom is just one week in a year full of events and parties that are designed for the big fetish community of Berlin and its tourists. There’s also the Easter week celebrations (mainly leather events), Rubber weekend in October (In which the local Mr. Rubber/ Leather is chosen), Skin weekend in November. The list goes on and on. But really, Berlin doesn’t need a weekend to celebrate its kinkiness as it is kinky all year long.
Next time you come for Folsom, you should take a look at the gay memorial plaque outside <strong>Nollendorfplatz</strong> station before you hurry to the fair. It will be an important reminder that nothing should be taken for granted, that we all should appreciate the times we live in, when not only homosexuality is accepted, but also its extreme sexual side.