Thursday, September 24, 2009

Throwing Flames

The bar scene in Berlin never ceases to surprise me. There is a strange juxtaposition going on: the streets are quiet, peaceful even, and then you enter a bar and stumble upon a whole other world. Take Café Zapata, for instance. From outside, it looks like a rundown building, a bit of an eyesore amongst the upscale restaurants that surround it. A few interesting metal sculptures entice you to go into the bar, and suddenly you find yourself in a cavernous room with a band playing full force onstage. Exiting through the back leads you to a large, sandy area with several food trailers, tables, and another stage with another band. Spooky metal sculptures of demons, devils, and various creatures lurk in corners and atop the trailers.
What struck me as more odd than the sculptures was a claw-foot bathtub filled with what I presumed was water. My partner, Wilson, and I paused at the tub for a moment before shrugging our shoulders and walking over to where the outdoor band was playing. We had come to Café Zapata specifically to see our friends, the Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band. Halfway through their set they pulled me up on stage and had me dance. My high heels, the level of alcohol in my blood, the crowded stage, and the fact that I was wearing blue jeans resulted in a terrible performance on my part. Or maybe I’m just my own worst critic, because everyone else enjoyed it and even asked for an encore. I was feeling a little too tipsy, though, so I declined.
Then I went inside to use the bathroom (which was far more frightening than the sculptures) and when I walked back outside, there was a man in fire gear waving around a flame thrower. The bathtub hadn’t been filled with water, but with gasoline. And this flame thrower guy, he was raving like a lunatic, throwing flames all over the place and shouting things in broken English.
After his performance, he went through the crowd, asking for tips. Lots of people put money in, because you should never argue with a guy who has a flame thrower.
After all the chaos, Wilson and I called it a night. As we returned to the streets of Berlin, the quiet and calm of the night almost made me think that Café Zapata had been a dream, or at the very least, a drunken hallucination.

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