Throughout March, Berlin has its own Chinatown and it’s a kitsch, neon success.
After seeing their nebulous, hipsterific teaser campaign on social media, I wasn’t sure how ‘Berlin’s new Chinatown’ was going to work. But, after visiting the opening night at their Spreewaldplatz location, I’m sold on their kitsch Chinatown aesthetic, innovative use of space, excellent cocktails and noodle soups.
Walk down those steps into the old Kleine Reise club and you’re transported into an opium-smoke world of neon Chinese characters, colourful paper lanterns and bizarre little rooms, each with their own kitsch life inside.
Authentic it is not, a well-meaning parody maybe, but Chinachinatown has succeeded in creating one of Berlin’s most audaciously fun and surprising venues in recent times.
It follows the trend that’s swept through Berlin in the last few years of interactive events where participation and imagination are crucial, nodding at least one hat to things like House of the Red Doors. Only their fetish is Chinatown kitsch.
But why Chinatown? The organisers explained to me that, ignoring all historical and cultural reasons why, it’s odd that Berlin doesn’t have a Chinatown. So they decided to create one.
They’ve taken their experiences from famous Chinatowns around the world (London, New York, L.A…. Beijing, Shanghai… all the rest) and distilled the space in the old Kleine Reise location into an absorbing Chinatown replica.
And they have succeeded. It does feel like a town. There’s a Chinese cocktail bar, a smoky neon-signed street front area, a noodle bar and Chinese convenience store, a karaoke lounge and even a Chinese garden and panda sanctuary. Everything’s been put together with a DIY charm and just enough cheap plastic tat that is reminiscent of every self-respecting Chinatown.
On top of the planned mayhem, there are also many accidental quirks which make the place complete, like the cocktail menu which was produced by someone who never spell-checked their own work. It’s full of typos, creating accidental cocktail classics like the ‘Fark and Stormy’, made with ‘Krum’ and slices of ‘cumuber’. 100% authenticity.
Also, I found my dream cocktail. It’s called the Hong Kong Phuey and contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila, melon liqueur, green chartreuse, lime cordial and juice. That’s a lot of alcohol.
Chinachinatown is open every night from 17Uhr (except Mondays) up until April 7th. After that they are planning on returning in the autumn to a larger venue to expand their immersive experience. Make sure you check it out before it leaves us.