David Bowie’s Berlin

I write this from the Neues Ufer Cafe in Schöneberg, Berlin. David Bowie frequented the place while residing next door during his Berlin years of 1976-1978. The residential building seems nothing special. A Physiotherapy and Massage practice presently occupies the ground floor. One wouldn’t suspect anything if not for the following memorandum:

The cafe, formerly named Anderes Ufer, feels more of a bar at first glance. Slightly unconventional for me at three in the afternoon, I thought of making an exception and settling in this place in light of the historical significance. The coffee tastes rather well despite the negative remark in the “David Bowie Tour” page. A small candle illuminates the table surface in an otherwise obscure environment.

Naturally, I’m the only client at this hour. David Bowie picture frames occupy the walls. The photographs reference not so much the Berlin era but his later periods. I’m not sure why. The Berlin era produced three marvelous albums and some of my favorites: Low, Heroes, and Lodger. The listening experience is simply sensational if you disconnect and let yourself be carried along the journey. (I find the Brian Eno influence on these albums quiet apparent and the result more enjoyable than some of his solo works I’ve heard. Some music, as well as any art form, can require much time and effort to relate to, and I feel there’s more to the Brian Eno compositions.)

Upon further contemplation, Neus Ufer could pass for a cafe. It reminds me somewhat of the Den Theatre in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. The latter, a cafe in the front room and a theatre in the back, resembled something of a Victorian drawing room. The chandelier lighting, antique sofas, rustic tables, and a mixture of coffee and alcoholic beverage bar equipment left you confused of your intent upon arriving.

Neus Ufer feels not quiet Victorian, but somewhat aged in a splendor that maintains the spirit of the 70s or 80s. Short of the sloppy paint jobs, I would not be surprised if no other renovation took place over the proceeding decades. An LCD monitor over the pastry cabinet and the computerized transaction machine are the only noticeable remnants of the modern era. The speakers emit mostly 80’s tunes, which makes the atmosphere more plausible even.