Last night, we went out to a club in Mitte, the city center, called Caffe Burger. A 70’s-style groove band played what sounded like the same song over and over. The bass player was also the vocalist, and he looked just like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, only even scruffier. I report this nightlife in particular because it was the end of a typical effort at going out for us.
The magazine that tells us what’s going on (called Zitty) listed a free jazz concert at a church in the hip, gentrified neighborhood of Prenzlauerberg. Perfect. We trekked north to check it out. But, it turned out the emphasis should have been on the “in a church” part. The jazz trio was playing Oscar Peterson’s composition interpreting the ten stations of the cross, accompanied by a slide show with modern art representations of the same. We learned such vocabulary as “supper,” “denial,” and “forsaken.” The combination of jazz and Christianity was a surprise, especially performed in godless formerly-Communist Berlin. I thought the Europeans only kept their churches around for tourism and public spaces. Here we’d discovered that they also worship there. To top it off, Aaron considers Oscar Peterson’s music boring, and this band of middle aged white guys did not “swing hard,” Aaron told me, which is the only thing that ever redeems Peterson’s music. So, we left during the break, though we did make it all the way to the resurrection. I don’t know what further Christian jazz would have comprised the second half.
We met up with friends who live in Prenzlauerberg, and together we consulted Zitty and settled on Caffe Burger. This was the first concert we attended where the audience actually got up and danced. It helped that there were no seats, just an open space in front of the stage. Usually, a band may encourage dancing, but the Germans smile tightly and sit motionless. So there we were bopping along with the Berliners, and for the first time in my life, I was not the most inhibited dancer in the room. This was the dorkiest, most lackluster dancing I have ever seen. We fit right in.
There was one notable exception. A 60-year-old man with snow white Ben Franklin hair and a Santa Claus belly produced some just incredible fluttery hand movements for the entire two hours of the concert, all while swaying passionately with his eyes closed.