Bars, Cafés, Clubs

  • Jennifer V. Evans
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


In the 1920s, the pull of the Kurfürstendamm was unmistakable. Berliners reveled in the pageantry of the former corduroy road while émigrés and tourists, as many as 300,000 by 1923, flocked en masse to its concentration of trendy cafes, bookstores, dinner theaters, and Schnellrestaurants (quick cafeterias).1 Before the currency stabilization undercut the rouble, forcing many of the well-heeled expats to head for Paris, so many Russian aristocrats, artists, and exiles buzzed around the neighborhood haunts “like flies to a lantern” that some critics, like Soviet pamphleteer Viktor Schlovsky, claimed it felt more like “Charlottengrad” than Charlottenburg.2 Berlin’s fashionable new suburb certainly was addictive. As the writer Christian Bouchholz put it, once one had a taste of its main street, “one feels changed …and cannot do without it.”3 The view from the street during the turbulent years of Germany’s first republic was one of exuberance, youthful ambition, and opportunity — provided one had the financial means to partake in the frivolity. The Ku-Damm’s smart stores, trendy cafés, and pulsing nightspots galvanized a decades-long shift away from the old money of staid Friedrichstadt toward the flashiness of the New West, the name given to the former towns and cities to the west of the Zoo Station that were amalgamated with the greater city of Berlin in 1920.


Train Station Gender Nonconformity Dance Club Photo Credit Divided City 
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© Jennifer V. Evans 2011

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  • Jennifer V. Evans

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