Lady of the Night

I first heard about Madame Claude, a club in Berlin, because a band I like mentioned playing there. Something about the name suggested the decadence of the Weimar Republic. I was going to visit a friend who was living in Berlin so I thought I would visit Madame Claude too.

A sign outside the plain façade asks people not to line-up after 10pm. This didn’t make me feel good. Inside, the club had a more old-fashioned style entrance, with a wide desk and many coats hanging neatly behind the woman working there. Entrance was by donation of at least 1 euro plus 1 euro for the coat check. Feeling generous I handed over seven. It seemed a reasonable price for a night out.

“What time does this place close?” I asked her.

“Around two-thirty. It depends on the people,” she said

The bar was already full. You could hear people speaking both English and German. A clock on the wall was hanging upside down and the tip request sign was too. The whole room was designed to be upside down with furniture stuck to the ceiling. I felt at home.

If something ‘escapes’ you, you can’t remember it. ‘That woman used to work in my office, but her name escapes me now.’

Soon, we were invited to go downstairs to listen to the music. The act was a Belgian-Canadian-Swedish hip-hop ensemble. Hip-hop isn’t my most favorite genre, but I don’t think this was the right group for the other people there either. The act – whose name escapes me now – put on a good show and were having fun. It was the first time I’d ever seen a DJ try and scratch a record with his foot.

A ‘b-line’ is when you head straight for something, quickly and without stopping. ‘As soon as the shop opened, Shirley made a b-line to the dress department.’

I decided to go back upstairs, but the bar had gotten much more crowded. Surprisingly, my stool at the bar was still free. I made a b-line. It was where I was going to sit for the rest of the evening. Maybe into the morning.

I left fairly early. As much as I enjoyed the bar, I felt like an impostor from another time. Youth now belonged to other people. It was theirs to enjoy, along with the night. I was off to my friend’s flat, for a hot drink and maybe read a chapter in my book.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Lady of the Night Quiz: Medium

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I first heard about Madame Claude, a club in Berlin, because a band I like played there. I was going to visit a friend who was living in Berlin so I thought I would visit Madame Claude too.

A sign outside the plain façade asked people not to line-up after 10pm. Inside, the club was more old-fashioned. Entrance was by donation of at least 1 euro plus 1 euro for the coat check. I felt generous and paid 7 euros. It seemed like a good price for a whole night.

“What time does this place close?” I asked the coat lady.

“Around two-thirty. It depends on the people,” she said.

The bar was already full. You could hear people speaking both English and German. A clock on the wall was hanging upside down and the tip request sign was too. The whole room was designed to be upside down with furniture stuck to the ceiling. I felt at home.

Soon, we were invited to go downstairs to listen to the music. The act was a Belgian-Canadian-Swedish hip-hop ensemble. Hip-hop isn’t my most favorite genre, but I don’t think this was the right group for the other people there either. But it was the first time I’d ever seen a DJ try and scratch a record with his foot.

A ‘b-line’ is when you head straight for something, quickly and without stopping. ‘As soon as the shop opened, Shirley made a b-line to the dress department.’

I decided to go back upstairs, but the bar had gotten much more crowded. Surprisingly, my stool at the bar was still free. I made a b-line. It was where I was going to sit for the rest of the evening. Maybe into the morning.

I left pretty early. I enjoyed the bar, but felt like an impostor from another time. Youth now belonged to other people. It was theirs to enjoy, along with the night. I went to my friend’s flat, for a hot drink and maybe read a chapter in my book.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Lady of the Night Quiz: Mild

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I first heard about Madame Claude, a club in Berlin, because a band I like mentioned playing there. Something about the name suggested the decadence of the Weimar Republic. Around the time I found out about the club, I was going to visit a friend who was living in the city, so I thought I would swing by and check it out.

The club is in Berlin’s hip and happening Kreuzberg district, a place I have visited a few times, and with its many bars and cafes, a place I am immensely fond of. Part of the appeal is that Kreuzberg is part of musical history, but it is also a place where you are guaranteed to find somewhere to have a drink or grab a late-night bite – not always easy in the German capital. In fact parts of Germany have quite strict noise rules, or so I have heard, but in Kreuzberg, it is different.

A sign outside the rather non-descript façade asks patrons not to line-up after 10pm. This did not bode well. Inside, the club had a more old-fashioned style entrance, with a broad desk and racks of coats, hanging orderly and patiently behind the woman working there. The kohl under her eyes had been applied thickly. She really pushed it on. Her thin shoulder straps revealed tattoos in equally dark ink.

Entrance was by donation of at least 1 euro plus 1 euro for the coat check. Feeling generous I handed over seven. It seemed a reasonable price for a night out.

“What time does this place close?” I asked her as I handed over my coat.

“Around two-thirty. It depends on the people,” she said and handed me a docket, which I put in my back pocket. I never use my back pocket so there was little chance of the paper slipping out. My wallet was a no-go. It’s always too crammed with random pieces of paper. The docket would become lost and with it, my one protection from the chilly November night.

The bar was already full. English and German chatter shared the space equally. A clock on the wall was hanging upside down, so six o’clock was at the top. The tip request sign was also inverted. The whole room was designed to be upside down with furniture stuck to the ceiling. I felt at home.

I had only had a mouthful of my first beer when we were invited, almost shepherded into the basement. Maybe it was the reserved manner of the guy who made the announcement, but I felt like I was on a school excursion to a museum. Weirdly, it didn’t detract from the enjoyment.

If something is ‘wasted’ on someone, they don’t understand it.

The act in the basement was a Belgian-Canadian-Swedish hip-hop ensemble. Hip-hop isn’t my most favorite genre, but I think these guys were a little wasted on the crowd who could broadly fall into the category of hipster. A few heads swayed but mostly people took thoughtful swigs of beer as though the guys were as static as paintings when they were anything but. The act – whose name escapes me now – put on a good show regardless. It was the first time I’d ever seen a DJ try and scratch a record with his foot. They weren’t exactly street, but they were clearly having a lot of fun. But I was getting thirsty and the walls of the basement were closing in. I wanted to be top-side, back in the upside down room.

A ‘b-line’ is when you head straight for something, quickly and without stopping. ‘As soon as the shop opened, Shirley made a b-line to the dress department.’

The crowd who had disappeared downstairs had been replaced by a crowd two or three times as big. Surprisingly, my stool at the bar was still free. I made a b-line. It was where I was going to park myself for the rest of the evening. Maybe into the morning.

Another beer and I found myself chatting to a young Englishman who ran a small record label. He had heard about the place from a friend and was really impressed with what he saw. Given what was on offer in his homeland I have to say that was quite a compliment for Madame Claude. The conversation quickly segued into music. I realized how out of touch I was. The young man and I chatted a little longer and he disappeared to check out the hip-hop act in the basement.

It was well before 2:30 before I left. As much as I enjoyed the bar, I felt like an interloper from another time. Youth now belonged to other people. It was theirs to enjoy, along with the night, while I was off to my friend’s flat, for a hot drink and maybe a chapter of the book I was reading.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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Lady of the Night Quiz: Spicy

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