Is Romance Dead: Banging Berlin by Mary Katharine Tramontana

About ten years ago, back when I was living in Hartford, I met a beautiful guy at a party inside an old art museum, with go-go dancers dancing from the balconies and candy girls and boys offering delectable treats from trays held sensuously by a strap around back of the neck. He was one of those people who is so good-looking that I wasn’t sure if the date that we had made was really a date. Would his boyfriend or girlfriend be carrying our blanket to the jazz in the park? Upon opening the front door to my apartment, he stood there – alone and as stunning as before- holding a bouquet of hand-picked wild flowers. The gesture was made all the more fairy-tale like when he explained his injured foot. A large wooden splinter had pierced through his flip flop while he was picking blueberries for me along the railroad tracks across from his house. Was für ein exotic creature! He even had two six packs of fancy beer. Romantic, hot, and a lush. Wow.

Today in Berlin, the practice of courtship seems as foreign a concept as good service#

Today in Berlin, the practice of courtship seems as foreign a concept as good service. “Hanging out” or having a drink seems to be the extent of many’s dating repertoire. I was so excited when a hot guy I recently met, at a performance art thing with lots of naked people (yeah!), sent me a text message inviting me to dinner. I said as long as he didn’t mind dining with a hungover person, I’d love to. He then suggested a massage and “kakao session” instead of sharing a meal. How did our civilized start to the evening take a turn toward the (new age) bed so rapidly?

Yesterday, I heard from one of those from the past who was pretty cute but nothing happened, the one where you start thinking that you had possibly missed out on something. Without speaking for weeks and with no prior greeting, his facebook message: “fuck me”. Now, I’m not the most old-fashioned person in the world when it comes to relationships and sexuality – I don’t believe in marriage, monogamy, or sexual orientation – but if you’re going to ask someone to fuck you, you could at least execute that in person right?

Is everybody in such a hurry, or just the ones I meet?

Is everybody in such a hurry, or just the ones I meet? Am I the only person who finds talking sexy? What is pleasure without longing (longing which can be satiated the same day or night, of course)?

I asked a friend who studies culture at the Free University if he thought romance was dead. “Nah, people are just more pragmatic now,” he said. “Romantic idealism is dead. Romance lives.”

Decadence over efficiency

Hmm. For me, romance isn’t about a lie that relationships should remain in a fixed state of ecstasy forever, it’s about celebrating the grand. It’s the impractical for the greater pleasure. Decadence over efficiency. Bringing real wine glasses to the picnic by the lake, because it’s more enjoyable to drink from them than the bottle. Maybe it’s not romance that’s dying in Berlin, but vulnerability and intimacy.

Perhaps it’s fitting that one of the most famous icon’s of courtly love in our society may have been an obscure 3rd century Roman martyr who was beaten to death by clubs and beheaded on February 14th.

I gotta get back to cutting out paper hearts now

So maybe you’re not spending V-day in bed with Adam Bainbridge and Eva Mendes. And maybe you’re not a fan of the one socially sanctioned relationship form, like me. You can still enjoy the day. This Valentine’s Day, forget about the one and only stuff. Don’t celebrate the couple (the real capitalistic culprit, for those anti-valentine readers). That’s already done every other day of the year. Celebrate love. I gotta get back to cutting out paper hearts now. Happy Valentine’s Day lovers.​

Banging Berlin is a new monthly column by Mary Katharine Tramontana.

Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a 'recovering musician', he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.

1 Comment

  • Reply February 15, 2015

    Ri Caragol

    I think we have fallen victims to instant gratification, maybe even involutarily. With the world accessible through our keyboards in a matter of seconds, it’s sometimes hard to remember we are still human… It is becoming harder and harder to disconnect, shut down our cellphones and dedicate time to those we love or want to try know more intimately.

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