Tips of our Tongues
Berlin Summers and House Parties
Lyz Pfister and Bianca Sanon
Berlin lives outdoors in the summer. No surprise, since the winters we endure are long and full of what seems like incommensurate suffering. When the heat hits, one of my favorite spots to spend a lazy afternoon is Thai Park, a pockmarked stretch of no special beauty out in the west of Berlin where every weekend, Thai families, mostly women, set up tiny cooking stations complete with portable gas stove and a mise en place of plastic buckets. By now I’ve got my favorites – there’s the woman who makes a killer green papaya salad, each one made to order in a giant mortar with funky dried shrimp, hot chili, and lime. There’s the green tapioca pudding with slivers of fresh coconut topped with coconut cream. There are fried plantains in crispy coconut-flaked batter, Thai iced coffee, and pan-fried dumplings doused in vinegar and chili. The setups are makeshift, tucked under colorful umbrellas, and certainly illegal – in fact, the city has been waffling between turning a blind eye and trying to shut it down for years. But at this point, it’s kind of an institution, and even though it’s name isn’t really Thai Park at all, it’s become so known by its adopted moniker that Google Maps will even send you to the right place if you search for it. And while that might sound like the beginning of the end of legitness, I have yet to see a hint of curated cool or a heaping plate of food that costs more than 5 euros. So until death by hipster or law, you’ll find me here on a blanket under the tree, book in one hand, deep fried chicken wing in the other.
Once perceived as high school nostalgia, serving no other purpose than to make myself feel old, house parties have recently been just a really good excuse to dance.
And dance freely. For hours. With people I love. There’s been something so honest about these late night summer gatherings, and it has been encouraging this burning need to move with each other and without inhibition, which seems almost masochistic when we think about how damn hot it’s been.
I recently read an older piece in the NY Times about “The Death of the Party”, how people in their twenties don’t really go to house parties anymore, possibly due to “technological, economic, and cultural reasons”. While I can believe that to be absolutely true, my friends and I came to realize how easy it would be to just turn the lights off, play all of the jams, tell people to come over and watch the magic happen. And sometimes it boils down to this idea of not being able to make time for a big event, but what if it’s not even like that? What if we decided that house parties are just a 3-4 hour break to dance away adulthood stresses, negative thoughts, unnecessary drama? We can make time for that. Make time for that. For me, this summer has been one of gathering and getting together, and truly there is nothing more intoxicating than feeling the energies of others uplifting my own.