Among changes this year are the return of the Fetish Cruise first seen in 2015, and expansion of the German Fetish Fair to a second exhibition floor. Also promised are the launch of a Femdom dinner and a revamp of the Sweet Surrender play party.
Last but not least, The Fetishistas will be co-hosting the new official GFB Kinky Cocktails party, which kicks of the whole five-day programme at rooftop venue 260 Grad on Mercedes Platz on Wednesday May 29.
The expansion of the GFB Weekend has happened in parallel with developments in the East Side Gallery area of Berlin (roughly between the Mercedes-Benz Arena and the River Spree), which is close to most of the GFB’s traditional venues.
It’s not that long since the new Holiday Inn Berlin City East Side provided fans of the ultra-chic nhow hotel, beloved of GFB attendees, with a nearby overspill alternative of decent quality.
But a whole new quarter has now emerged around the same location, with a shopping mall and several new hotels including the Hampton and the Indigo, the latter chosen as GFB organiser Xklusiv’s official base for this year.
René of Xklusiv even thinks that in the future, the preponderance of hotels now in this area, including such kink-friendly establishments as the Moxy and the Schulz, might finally facilitate a full GFB hotel takeover in Berlin for the first time in the event’s 16-year history!
I was delighted to accept Xklusiv’s invitation for The Fetishistas to co-host the German Fetish Ball 2019 Weekend’s official launch party on May 29.
I’ve supported the GFB since its inception during my time on Skin Two. I’ve documented its evolution into the event it is today — surely the most important gathering on the international fetish calendar.
So it’s great to be offered an official place in this year’s schedule, to — as René puts it — celebrate our long-time friendship and partnership.
“The scene has seen the loss of many magazines, publishers and editors, and you taking the bold step to create a website like The Fetishistas ensured our community a quality source for information, news, reviews, etc,” he tells me. “ The scene needs a site like this!” Aw, thanks!
As some will recall, the first Kinky Cocktails parties were hosted on behalf of the GFB by Martin Pelzer of FetishGuerilla fame, who, incidentally, was also The Fetishistas’ original webmaster.
There followed a period when Xklusiv took Kinky Cocktails under its direct control, before Alex Heim of Savage Wear got joint custody of the event, hosting it first at Rooster and most recently at Badehaus.
Alex and his Berlin partners will still be hosting a Savage Wear party at Badehaus on Wednesday 29 this year. But it has now been rebadged as Savage Wear Fetish Night 2019 — Birthday Clash.
But why did René decide to move Kinky Cocktails this year? He explains:
“I always wanted to strengthen the community feel of the weekend. So we’ve tried to bring back the traditional Kinky Cocktails — back when it was an event with no DJs and no entry fee, but a nice get-together at a nice place for everyone who’d already arrived in Berlin.
“With the 260 Grad we’ve got a great rooftop bar at Mercedes Platz 1, overlooking the Spree.” (Not the rooftop bar at Hotel Indigo, he emphasises.)
“With an indoor space as well as the sundeck,” he adds, “this should be perfect for getting into the Berlin vibe and talking to people. And it’s a short walk from the hotels, so no need to rush through the city!”
Thursday afternoon sees the return of the GFB Fetish Cruise — the first of three events scheduled for this date. Despite rather chilly weather for its first outing in 2015, many people hoped this event would become a regular feature of the GFB programme.
It took a few years to reinstate, but the fact that all 90 tickets for this year’s cruise apparently sold out within a few days of being announced suggests that it was a most welcome revival — and one which may well, adds René, become a regular feature from now on.
Furthermore, since this year’s GFBW straddles the end of May and start of June when Berlin generally gets very warm, there’s every chance the weather will be perfect for a couple of hours on an open boat.
Even if isn’t, the boat has an enclosed lower deck as well as its sundeck, so enjoying the city’s sights from the river will be possible either way.
Departing from East Side Gallery moorings, the cruise welcomes fetish attire though it’s not compulsory. But since the cruise will also be the meeting point for a group photo, people might well opt for dressing to impress.
Early Thursday evening brings the debut of the GFB Femdom dinner, at Restaurant Rio Grande on the banks of the Spree — a venue known to The Fetishistas and approved of by discerning GFB folk such as Ian Dutton and Shea Hovey.
“We’ve got a group reservation for 100 people with a three-course menu and a welcome drink,” says René. “The restaurant is fetish friendly and in walking distance from the hotels and other venues.
“Dinner will be €60 per person including an aperitif. With so many great dominatrices coming from all over the world every year and with our new femdom castle party coming up, we think this might be a perfect add-on for many.”
Femdom castle party, did he say? Yes, Xklusiv has indeed added a brand new weekend for dominant woman, called Triskelion Manor, to its roster of legendary castle events.
“The basic website is up and the more expensive rooms sell quickly,” says its host. “So the risk of renting this beautiful castle for just a special theme seems to be worth it.”
The dates of the new weekend’s debut are, as it happens, exactly the same as the dates of this year’s Avantgardista Weekend in Munich. But the castle gathering is limited to just 50 couples, and is likely to appeal to a mostly different audience from Avantgardista’s target crowd.
Thursday night sees this year’s edition of the VIP reception and GFB Sonic Boom party at Matrix.
“Sonic Boom stays the way we had it last year, as a great pre-party to come to, dance, hang out and play,” says René. “And looking at the sales of VIP tickets [which include entry to the VIP reception], I can already tell that many are keen on the entire weekend experience.”
Friday is the first day of the German Fetish Fair, to be followed as usual by two events on Friday evening.
By the end of February, René had already taken bookings from 40 exhibitors thanks to this year’s addition of a second vending floor. And he was confident that all the remaining extra space would soon be taken.
So, after years of being stuck with a maximum of 30 or so vendors fitting into the lower floor, the German Fetish Fair finally gets some space to grow.
The later dates of the German Fetish Ball 2019 Weekend may mean that the Fair venue (at the ‘street end’ of the same riverside complex that houses the Ball) gets quite warm inside.
But this year’s Fair will add air conditioning. And you can be sure that, with its strong showing of fetish fashion again this year, there’ll be plenty of cool stuff — and great bargains — to make a visit worthwhile.
Friday’s first evening event is the GFB’s traditional play party, Sweet Surrender, at Matrix, which has been revamped to make it more approachable for singles and newbies.
“We have dungeon monitors and some rules (basic dungeon etiquette) installed,” reveals René, “and we’ll hand out glowing wristbands for those who want to signal interactive desires to others.
“We think this is the right way to go. Of course it is still a play party and we will keep it that way. For other types of partying, there is KitKat the same night and I am sure Martin [Pelzer] has got a great line-up.”
Indeed he has. With KitKatClub’s doors opening an hour after Sweet Surrender kicks off, Friday night’s FetishGuerilla Revolution promises to be another full-on affair mixing Berlin and London fetish clubbing styles at their most deliciously excessive!
With DJs Aline & Sune, Faray, Räubertöchtäs, Sebo, Pandemonium, Kasey Riot, Schrod, Søren and Christopher Lawrenz, the techno line-up is, says Martin, almost the same as last year “as I had the feeling it worked better than ever before”.
Shows will feature fashion from Jaded Jewall, plus performances by Amy Statik, Ayesha Hussain, Princess Tweedle Needle and Augentier.
“We will have the big floor in the back this year as the indie/rock/goth/glamour floor,” adds Martin, “with techno in the main floor and basement, I think.
“We might switch the basement and dragon floor, but we will definitely have a big non-tech floor.”
Saturday begins with the second day of shopping opportunities at the German Fetish Fair. It’s a last chance to pick up a new outfit or pimp an existing piece prior to the evening’s German Fetish Ball, the headline event of the whole weekend at Spindler & Klatt on the banks of the Spree.
“The last two years of the Ball were very strong,“ says René, “topping our always good numbers, so we reached our tolerated capacity. The venue would allow more, but while a good crowd is good for a party, too crowded would change that.
“We always open at 9pm and most people come within the first hour. But now there is a larger crowd still at the venue at 5am, after seven or eight hours of partying, and we have to kick out more and more at 6am each year!”
(This doesn’t surprise me. Especially when the weather is warm, sitting outside on the venue’s big pontoon on the river on Sunday morning and watching the sun rise over Berlin is a unique experience.)
“So numbers-wise it looks perfect,” René continues. “But this year the ticket sales started even stronger than in the past two good years. So maybe this year will be the first where we sell out before the Ball and there will be no tickets for sale on the door.”
So if you plan to attend the Ball this year, the message seems clear: get your tickets as soon as possible and don’t risk trying to buy them on the night.
The Ball programme at Spindler & Klatt will follow its now well-established structure.
The main space accommodating the stage and catwalk doubles as the main dancefloor, with electro sounds by Hedo of Wilde Orchiden, Liepzig.
At the rear (riverside entrance) end of the cavernous venue is a lounge area and a separate, smaller dance floor featuring ’80s and gothic music from DJ Alf and his personal DJane.
The fashion shows provide the main spectacle of the evening, and seven designers are currently booked. (“I always plan for six and have one extra in case someone cancels,” says René).
The 2019 line-up includes three British labels — Yummy Gummy Latex, Lady Lucie Latex and Latex 101, all making their GFB catwalk debuts.
Germany will have two designers on the catwalk: Inner Sanctum and, making his debut, the much admired ‘hobby’ latex designer/photographer Shitake – Follow the Mushroom.
The other two labels in the show are Sweden’s Maebelle Latex Design, which costumed Psylocke at last year’s Ball, and Luna’s Latex, a made-to-measure brand from the Netherlands.
“We have a very nice mix this year, despite the difficulties of choosing, as we had so many designers asking to do a show,” says René. “I wish I could have given everyone a show.”
But, he reckons, “It shows how talented the fetish fashion scene still is, and I hope it stays that strong.”
German Fetish Ball 2019 Weekend concludes with the traditional Farewell Breakfast/Brunch running from 11am at a local restaurant (venue to be announced). Even some of the people who’ve been partying until dawn at the Ball manage to attend this. One day, I’ll manage it too.
The confidence that increasing attendances have instilled in the GFB’s organisers over the past few years means that preparations for the following year start earlier each time, as René confirms:
“We’re already planning for 2020: having negotiations with the venues, checking for flyer artwork… and maybe we can announce a partner hotel with a full takeover then. So exciting times and news still ahead even after 16 years!”
And you might be interested to know that another of Xklusiv’s plans for 2020 is to launch an Easter event called Fetish Easter Weekend. No further details are available yet, but the difficulties a certain other Easter fetish weekend has experienced this year might possibly be a factor in Xklusiv’s thinking.
Xklusiv’s plans for Easter 2020 should not, however, be confused with 2019’s Easter Fetish Weekend (aka Easter Fetish Meeting), an informal holiday gathering of fetish people at Essen’s Hotel Bredeney made possible because the hotel will not be partnering with FetishEvolution this year.READ MORE QUICK LINK:
BELOW: These galleries from the GFB 2018 weekend give a sense of what to expect in Berlin this year.
TOP ROW L-R: Sonic Boom People & DutchDame show; BOTTOM ROW L-R: FetishGuerilla Revolution People & Amrita/Giada Davinci show. Click preview to view gallery; click thumbnail to start slideshow
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