Saturday, December 25, 2010

Berliner Raucher Kneipe

The kneipe is a special place in Berlin where you can find a few locals crammed together in corners watching sports on the telly and drinking cheap beer in small glasses.  The wiki translation of 'kneipe' is 'pub,' but this isn't exactly accurate.  To me, a pub is a place where large groups of English or Irish people gather together and drink ales and stouts from LARGE mugs and watch sports on the telly.

Most of the Berliner Kneipe are raucher, or smoking pubs.  Most European pubs have followed the popular trend of banning smoking; England, Ireland and Germany all share the same laws concerning smoking in bars. To whit:  it is not allowed.  In Berlin, however, people just plain don't give a fuck.  They smoke in bars anyway.  Technically, this is illegal, but if a kneipe owner scrawls the word 'raucher' in crayon on a bar napkin and duct tapes it to the door of his establishment, alles in ordnung.

"So, db, why in the hell do you go to the raucher kneipe if you don't like smoke, you California beeotch?"

Glad you asked.  Two words:  CHEAP BEER.  Sure, the beer is crappy, mostly warm off-brands that nobody has ever heard of outside of Berlin.  But I'll be god damned if I'll ever be caught DEAD in the typical over-lit, over-priced, bistro-slash-faggy-slash-dancy cafe-slash-bar-slash-fuckers-I-don't-like-SLASH-em-ALL!!!

Ahem, excuse me.  I prefer dark corners and dark people.  I don't mean the local African watering holes per se, but those would be welcome as well.  I mean, normal people who have no problem with the dual stigmas of being butt suckers and alcoholics.  The lungs and the livers are shot, but these people are REAL.

FALLING DOWN is my local raucher kneipe.  It is practically right across the street from me, which makes it an easy stagger home.  I suppose the name of the place, in the immortal words of Bukowski, 'sort of fondled my scrotum.'  It's not normal to have an English name on a German bar.  And this bar is all German, mostly Prenzlauer Bergers of the old sort: unemployed, hard drinking, DDR-raised people who like cigarettes and beer more than life itself.  The bar is owned by a man of Mediterranean origin.  His name is 'Shefki,' which he told me means 'happy man' in Arabic.  It's true:  the man is happy.  Even when his bar is dead empty, he just smiles and asks me 'where are the people do you suppose?'  Then he rips open a bag of chips and brings the darts out for a game or two.

He opened the pub on Christmas Day "for the lonely people who don't have Christmas today."  I thanked him profusely by eating his chips, drinking his beer and throwing his darts.  I had to ask him about the decision to name the bar 'Falling Down.'  Was it about the gambling machines tucked in the corner?  Does 'Falling Down' mean the falling of coins?  Or is it about the more unfortunate patrons who can't handle the new uber-Captialist economy and the heavy amount of alcohol one must consume to deal with the aforementioned regime change?

To which Shefki replied:  "I think it is the last place people go in the neighborhood.  After they have gone to all the other kneipe in the neighborhood, they come here last and fall down."

Don't be scared.  Please visit Falling Down on Paul-Robeson-str. today.  Sure, your lungs may fall out of your ass from the smoke, but Shefki is a happy man who plays a mean game of darts and peddles a cheap bottle of beer.  Tell him the big American sent you.


  1. Grand. I know where I'll meet you the next time we pretend to exchange cultural waffle over a beer or 16. Looking forward to it! Hope you had a good Christmas, despite it being Christmas.
    Nollaig shona duit.

  2. You too! Hopefully you weren't too much of an xmas consumer...unless it was BOOZE! Hopefully you got a chance to listen to the Pogue's xmas song. If not, head on over to my fb page and click away...


  3. Dunkin' Berliner your website is great. Thanks to you I fully understand kneipe now so thank you. If you get a chance you should check out my blog, I'm also living in Berlin.

  4. No problem, Relle... that's my job: eating the donuts, drinking the warm beer and sucking down the kneipe smoke to inform YOU, my adoring masses, so you can avoid the diabetes, alcoholism and lung cancer.



  5. I moved to Germany a year ago and would really love any and all suggestions (if you are feeling up to it) as to where I might find some "English friendly" places. Although I have been here a year now, I know very little still of Berlin and what possible areas are good to visit. I am sure at some point I am able to make a friend here right? :P

    P.S. I am having "blog" if this was already posted, or something similar, just blame it on my blonde hair (which is actually red :P)

  6. I dunno...who needs friends when you have bier, donuts and raucher kneipe? Just kidding. I'm fairly domesticated and don't get out much, but scroll up and click on the wee leprechaun called 'Irish Berliner.' That dude is a Berlin expert. Don't worry about his seedy stories about Devil worshipers or couch surfing gone wild; he's actually forced to write that stuff by a fascist publication. In real life he is a helpful lad with a lot of info on Berlin. Tell him the Donut Man sent ye! Also check out Toytown Germany/Berlin forum/events and meetups. Loads of English-speakers with even more loads of drinking money to spend.

    Good luck!