Solveig Steinhardt strolled around Savignyplatz for a glimpse of West Berlin nightlife in the 1980s.
Explore Savignyplatz's cafés and clubs for a glimpse into the nightlife of former West Berlin.
In a city where each neighborhood caters to a different nightlife personality – from partyland Friedrichshain to alternative Kreuzberg, laid- back Schöneberg to hipster Mitte – it’s easy to forget about the existence of the after- dark scene around Savignyplatz, in Charlottenburg. Yet, this was one of former West Berlin’s most popular nightlife destinations, especially among intellectuals and students from the nearby Technische Universität.
The area’s persona, however, has always been a mixed one, what with luxurious, late-1800s buildings housing elegant cafés and restaurants, in contrast with nearby Kantstraße and its cheap electronics outlets and sex shops. It may be hard to believe today, but up until the early 1990s, the Platz also housed a few legal brothels, with prostitutes on street corners inviting clients upstairs.
Savignyplatz’s reputation has vastly improved, and today Kantstraße is a varied mix of designer furniture stores and Asian restaurants, representing Berlin’s pared- down version of a Chinatown. Many of the nightlife staples of yore remain, the most famous being Schwarzes Café (p. 60), which provides an excellent example of bohemian Berlin around the clock (they only close for three hours on Tuesday nights for cleaning). Another institution is Dicke Wirtin (p. 59), a German Kneipe serving delicious beers along with hearty meals. For flamenco and vinotinto, head to El Borriquito ( Wielandstr. 6), which has been serving Iberian cuisine for more than 40 years and features walls crammed with memorabilia from the Spanish countryside and lively guitar performances to entertain guests until early morning. Hep cats should visit A-Trane (p. 55), which boasts a program packed with local and international jazz performances, or Quasimodo (p. 56), where jazz and rock gigs resound from the cellar while you sip potent drinks on the terrace. For a sophisticated night out, step into Il Calice ( Walter- Benjamin- Platz 4), a Venetian enoteca specializing in Italian wines and pairings geared toward real connoisseurs.
"Savignyplatz was one of West Berlin's most popular nightlife destinations."