What do belly dancers and hairy gay men have in common? The Salz Club in Berlin, it turns out. Zadiel Sasmaz, my company director, was throwing a big show called “Orientalhane” for our sister company, Velvet Snake. I had to be at the show early because our dance company, Zadiraks, was doing a photo shoot at the club before the show.
Now, anyone that knows me knows that I am notoriously early for everything. It’s a habit I can’t seem to break, even though I always end up waiting around for everyone else to show up. Of course, I arrived early at the Salz Club, too. It wouldn’t have been such a problem, except that the location was very isolated. And I couldn’t find the sign for “Orientalhane”. And the only building that looked like it could be the Salz Club was crawling with big, hairy men. Big, hairy men in leather chaps and bondage and thongs. Oh my.
Gathering my nerves, I entered the gates and was very relieved to see a dancer from Velvet Snake sitting on a bench. She explained that the Salz Club has two rooms. Orientalhane would be in one, and “Bearopolis” would be in the other. Yeah, you heard me, Bearopolis. My god.
Orientalhane was great. Awesome performances by Velvet Snake and some guest stars, including Rachid- a gay belly dancer from the Netherlands. I thought Zadiel and Rachid would be excited about Bearopolis but it turns out that big, hairy men aren’t really their type.
The two rooms at the Salz Club didn’t overlap, but the outdoor area was shared. All these beautiful belly dancers in their exotic costumes mingling with men clad in leather. Somehow it worked okay. At the very least, no one seemed to mind. And the whole scene was representative of how modern a city Berlin can be- a city that is multicultural, in which old churches stand beside flashy new buildings, where taking the subway is more convenient than taking a car, and a city that embraces both its belly dancers and its bears.