We were standing on the subway platform, beers in hand. “Trust me: it’s going to be good,” I said. I didn’t think it would be so hard to convince my friends to go out to a dance party — especially one with an incredibly easy dress code.
Like most nights out in Berlin, this one started with a few beers and no real plans. Live music (of the bearded hipster variety) at an Australian-owned café led to cocktails across the street at one of Berlin’s best gin bars. There, in the smoky back room, we decided it was time for the next step of the night.
“It’s this party — happens every couple of months, sometimes Berlin, sometimes London. I think it’s been to Istanbul and Buenos Aires, too,” I said. I know everything about this party — I’ve read up on it, I’ve followed its blog. But I didn’t want to seem too eager to convince my new friends to come out tonight.
“You see, it’s a typical Berlin club night. Few rules, sexy hipsters, very gay, kind of queer, but not necessarily. There won’t be much trouble at the door, either.”
“One thing, though. There may be naked people.”
There was a short pause in the conversation. Then I had to explain: “It’s called Pornceptual. Entrance is regularly 12 euros, but if you take off your clothes, like your pants or your top, you get in for a reduced price. And if you go completely naked, it’s only 3 euros.”
I don’t know what I had been worried about: I had my friends’ complete attention. We were definitely going. The thrill of dancing without pants — who doesn’t enjoy that?!
• • •
We’re at the entrance to Prince Charles when the line isn’t long — just four or five groups ahead of us. We make our way past the bouncer and into the long hall. There’s a coat check before the point of payment. Ahead of me, guys are taking off their pants. The small French girl behind me took off her bra but keeps on her denim jacket. A guy who just paid walks past — he’s only wearing a pair of gold sneakers. And then there’s the moment: what am I going to do?
The pants come off.
And that’s when I stop and think for a second: what about my phone? My wallet? My money? It all gets stuffed between my Nike sneakers and my friend’s purse. Of my group of friends, I’m the only one down to my underwear. No biggie.
We approach the guy taking payment and he assesses each of us to determine how much we have to pay. I get in with a reduced rate, stuffing the rest of my cash into my left shoe.
• • •
The Prince Charles club is a popular one, and I’d been here on other club nights before. Tonight, the entire venue isn’t fully open, but over the next hour, the place fills with a big crowd. It’s a lot of gay guys and topless girls. It’s impossible to say if it’s mostly gay or mostly straight, because no one really cares. The music is good and the crowd on the dance floor is going strong. There are a handful of fully naked guys on the dance floor.
While the dance floor is definitely alive, a lot of the action is happening by the toilets, and there’s a constant shuffle of people moving back and forth. No one is bothered by the varying degrees of nudity. The outfits vary from fully nude to fetish clothes. As the night gets darker, there are more and more guys showing up in leather harnesses.
After a while, I start to get bored. The novelty is wearing off. Sure, the music is good and the crowd is fun. There’s a makeshift dark room in the corner, behind a curtain with a printed out sign designating the spot. It’s the size of a broom closet, but there must be quite a few guys in there — it’s quite easy to hear voices.
My friends and I mostly spend our time at the outdoor garden area and the patio at the front of the club. Here, it seems easy to meet new people and new friends. Outside, I turn around and bump into a guy I met on Grindr once — in Stockholm, of all places. Is every gay guy I know in Europe here tonight? We chat for a few minutes, but he goes back inside to be with his friends.
• • •
Leaving the club at 4am, I get into a taxi that’s queued up outside and head home — alone. It feels a bit funny wearing pants again. In Germany, nudity never seems to be a problem — whether it’s dancing in a club, sunbathing at a public park or swimming in a lake. As a foreigner living here,this was shocking at first, but I’m over it. In fact, Pornceptual was pretty tame. Friends have called it a “sex club for beginners,” but I’m not even sure I would call it a sex club. The idea is pretty novel, but in reality, it was just like every other Berlin club night: powerful music, drugs in the bathroom and a little bit of sex on the dance floor.
God, I love Berlin.
For more info, visit pornceptual.com.