Information since posted on the official German Fetish Ball website confirms the outline of the programme we assembled from various sources at the start of this year.
René of Xklusiv has also provided us with a glimpse into the organisational challenges of this year’s GFB Weekend — generally considered to be the most prestigious international event in the fetish calendar.
As we revealed in January, the official programme begins on Thursday April 27 with Savage Wear’s Kinky Cocktails party at new venue Badehaus Berlin, and ends on Monday May 1 with the traditional GFB Brunch at Cayetano.
KARI BERG is GFB 2017’s Mistress of Ceremonies and also presenter of our GFB 2016 video below (photo: Nikdesign)
Between these two dates the programme packs in the two-day German Fetish Fair at Magazin in der Heeresbäckerei, FetishGuerilla Revolution party at KitKatClub, and German Fetish Ball itself at Spindler & Klatt.
Also in the GFB 2017 Weekend line-up are the GFB VIP Reception/Play Night and GFB Play Into May parties, both at DarkSide, and Sonic Boom, a new Sunday event at Matrix, the old Ball venue.
You can see full details of all this year’s events including full venue addresses and ticket prices on page 2, along with a map of the venue locations and other useful info.
As we explained in our January piece, this year’s GFB Weekend has moved forward from its originally advertised slot on the last weekend in May — the result of once again aiming to avoid clashes with other major perv-fests.
In earlier years the Berlin event was held over Whitsun weekend to take advantage of the holiday Monday in Germany. But that meant it always clashed with Wave Gothic Treffen in Leipzig — not ideal given the overlap of business and pleasure interests in the goth and fetish communities.
To resolve this clash, the GFB has more recently settled on the earlier Ascension Day Weekend, which also allows the headlining Ball, previously lumbered with a Sunday night slot, to be staged on a Saturday.
“When we had the chance to get a regular Saturday venue, we found that Ascension Day weekend works better for most people,” René explains. “So we changed to this date a few years ago, and increasing numbers and the feedback of our guests proved it to be a good move.”
Ascension Day (another movable feast) is on May 25 this year, so the dates for the GFB 2017 Weekend were initially announced for the last weekend in May.
This immediately brought it into conflict with the Fetish Factory Anniversary celebrations in Florida, which are always on the last weekend in May.
“We already had a number of US and Canadian guests who were sad that they would have to miss one of their two favourite events,” says René.
“Then surprisingly, BoundCon announced their BDSM expo in Munich for the same weekend. And some vendors in our German Fetish Fair who usually do both shows were not very happy about that.”
MISS ERIS, model and rope artist, will bring her aerial self-bondage show to this year’s Ball (photo: Tony Mitchell)
Neither, unsurprisingly, was the organiser of SubRosaDictum, the BoundCon after-party – who, like Fetish Factory’s organiser, is a personal friend of René’s.
“Usually that would have been it — filed under ‘bad timing’ but not to be changed,” René admits.
“But fortunately this year, May 1 is a Monday and a national holiday not only in Germany but many other countries, giving us another holiday weekend to hold a party.”
Next year, adds René, the GFB will return to Ascension Day Weekend, which won’t make it easy to retain the new Sonic Boom event in the 2018 programme.
So now you know from the horse’s mouth why events in Berlin this year will be kicking off a little earlier than usual.
True, Berlin over May Day weekend will not be quite as warm as when the GFB is held in late May or early June, when heatwaves are not unknown.
But this year’s GFB Weekend is actually only one week earlier than last year’s. So if you were at the 2016 GFB, you probably won’t notice much difference in the weather. Certainly you can expect temperatures more comfortable for clubbing in latex than when the GFB takes place in June!
And of course, the City of Berlin offers a fantastic range of cultural and touristic experiences at relatively modest prices whatever time of year you visit — although Brits will probably not find it quite such a bargain since the Brexit vote.
So there’s little chance that the 2017 Berlin weekend will not maintain the GFB’s reputation as Europe’s top choice for combining pervery aplenty with pleasures of a more conventional kind.
The numerous attractions of Berlin mean that people tend to arrange their visits not just for the five days over which the GFB takes place, but will also very often add on days at either end of the programme to ensure they have some time to enjoy the German capital’s many other delights.
The relaxed vibe that normally characterises the city — albeit horribly interrupted by the Christmas Market attack — will hopefully have been fully restored by the time we all descend on Berlin in late April.
Having said that, I should mention that on May 1 (and the night before), the streets of Berlin — especially Kreuzberg — traditionally come alive with all kinds of organised and spontaneous public activity.
Some of it is positive and celebratory, like the street festivals veterans of the GFB’s Whit Weekend years will be familiar with.
However, it is also a time for various political demonstrations, and some of these can end up in quite extensive clashes with the police.
Don’t be surprised, therefore, if you notice a substantial police presence on the streets during this period.
LOLALICIOUS, a late addition to the Ball line-up, boosts the total number of latex labels on this year’s catwalk to seven
Berlin is particularly renowned for the abundance and good value of its bars and restaurants — something which makes dining out a real pleasure that doesn’t have to break the bank.
The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area on either side of the River Spree, where most of the GFB events take place, is brimming with good places to discover.
On the accommodation front, there is a good choice of hotels to suit all budgets, and many of those close to the GFB venues are listed on the official GFB website.
The coolest place to stay for the past few years has been the relatively new nhow, which is on the east bank of the Spree, a short walk from Matrix and also walkable from the Fair and Ball venues.
Though it’s relatively expensive, the nhow’s metrosexual/musician-friendly ambience (it’s next door to the headquarters of Universal Music) has made it very popular with GFB visitors, and the rooms tend to sell out quite early.
If the nhow is full, an even newer hotel, the Holiday Inn Berlin City East Side, is a good alternative of similar quality, though lacking the nhow’s eye-catching design features.
Adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Arena (previously the o2) and a short walk from Warschauer Strasse station, it’s even closer to Matrix and about the same distance from the other venues.
This Holiday Inn has been open for just three years, so it has only just made it onto the hotels list on the GFB website.
Apartment rentals have become an increasingly popular alternative to hotels for GFB visitors in recent years, especially since Airbnb took off.
It’s understandable: groups of friends can occupy a multi-room apartment for the same total cost (or less) per night than the price of a nice hotel room for one person.
You may have heard that this became such a problem for Berlin’s city government that it enacted legislation last May to make Airbnb lets in the city illegal.
This is correct, but it doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the market yet. I just checked and there are plenty of Berlin apartments available through Airbnb and other rental platforms for the dates of this year’s GFB Weekend.READ MORE QUICK LINK:
BELOW: SIX GFB 2017 FASHION SHOWS, top row L-R: Am Statik, Blacklickorish Latex and House of Harlot. Bottom row L-R: HW-Design, Inner Sanctum and Pandora Deluxe
BELOW: 2016 WEEKEND pictures from FetishGuerilla Revolution and German Fetish Fair. Click any preview to view gallery thumbnails; click any thumbnail to start slideshow. More 2016 pix on Page 2!
BELOW: WATCH OUR VIDEO REPORT from the German Fetish Ball 2016 Weekend in Berlin, shot for us by Nikdesign, with commentary GFB 2017 Mistress of Ceremonies Kari Berg
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