The things you can do in Berlin - a sea of options. Hundreds of events every night. Culture, music, art, fine dining, cheap dining, wineries, international bars, local bars, posh bars, museums, art galleries, concerts, cabarets, theaters, clubs (or should I say discos - I have been informed recently that the term "club" is out). An overwhelming choice of entertainment at more than affordable prices. I guess that is what makes Berlin so popular.
However, this won´t be a story about how great Berlin is. This is a story about what I did last Friday. Considering all these places that I could have visited last weekend, I ended up going to Dr Pong with my friends Steve and Christian. A fascinating way to spend Friday night in a cultural hub like Berlin.
Dr Pong is not a disco as such
. It´s also not a bar or anything similar offering good drinks, good music and a funky vibe. It´s a run down apartment - it must have been a shop once - on the ground floor of an old filthy building on Eberswalder Strasse, one of the main but not nicest streets in Prenzlauer Berg. The window front that opens to the main street has been covered with huge posters from the inside and graffiti from the outside, thus blocking any view a
pedestrian might have from the outside. All in all, it looks like a forgotten and dirty place that urgently needs a new owner or at least a clean. Since there is no front door or any sign hanging outside you wouldn´t even notice the place when passing it. Just like so many venues in Berlin.
Once you enter Dr Pong from a side door, you feel like you are back in school. Young, foolish and easygoing. What awaits you inside is absolutely unexpected: a large room with bare and grey walls and a ping pong table in the middle. That´s it. The dim lighting and the cigarette smoke add some ambiance to the grey, seemingly windowless space and there are some chairs lined up along the wall but they are of no interest to the 30 or 40 guests. They didn´t come for drinks, ambiance or chatting. They came to play ping pong while sipping beer. On a Friday evening. As simple as that. Why care about the world of entertainment and consumption when you can have fun without worrying about dress codes or money. Wearing your favorite sneakers, jeans, a sweater, hitting a ping pong ball and running around the table with 30 others seemed like a very attractive and bonding way of socializing on a cold evening in Berlin. The only concern you have is staying on the table - if you miss a ball or have a bad hit you get thrown out and have to wait till the next round. But if you make it to the 1:1 final you are the star of Dr Pong. There was foosball for those who got tired of ping pong.
I loved it and stayed for hours. This is exactly what I needed after living in the glitz and glamour of Dubai for 3 years. What an uncomplicated way of spending Friday night. No hassles with dress codes, queuing, bouncers, guest lists, entry fees, expensive drinks, overcrowded bars and dance floors. Dr Pong had everything I needed. The bar was a 2 meter counter manned by an American guy, the drink selection was sufficient and the music was entertaining (two lesbian looking girls, dressed in some ridiculous looking 80s outfits, standing behind a table with speakers on top playing some random 80s and 90s hits from CDs). No one was dancing but no one would have cared if I did.
The greatness of a place lies in its simplicity I guess. Entertainment and fun in its purest form - not to everyone´s liking. But then again, who wants to be like everyone.