” In some of the night clubs, men and women produced little boxes with mysterious-looking powders at which they would sniff from time to time. Their eyes would begin to sparkle, and they would behave for the rest of the evening with an almost ghostly brightness”
Crowded into the packed, densely populated streets of north Berlin were a network of after-hours ‘Dielen’ – mostly cellar bars and clubs attracting a wide variety of fun-seekers, petty criminals, drug-dealers and prostitutes.
British tour operator Cooks, ran late-night coaches to the many semi-criminal clubs in the area, presumably catering to clients for whom the wild, lesbian Toppkellar, and extravagant cross-dressing Eldorado were simply too tame.
One of the most famous of these was The Blue Stocking.
Situated at Linienstraße 140, it was slap bang in the middle of the neighbourhood that also featured Clärchens Balhaus, the vast Friedrichstadtpalast theatre and the famous Tacheles department store, now an even more famous artists squat.
(Mammen – The Blue Stocking, 1929)
Dimly-lit and with furniture as mis-matched as it’s clientele, The Blue Stocking was watched over by a fierce doorman called Karl, who sat outside on a wooden block. Only his approval would open the door to the many ‘delights’ inside.
Once inside, the visitor was greeted by a dozen bare tables and a sparse bar-counter. Rarely getting going until after 1am, the entertainment consisted of the occasional musician before the main event, Singer-Franz – who claimed he had once sung at the Komische Oper – performed a series of mostly obscene songs accompanied by topless dancers.
(George Grosz – Matrose in Nacktlocal, 1925)
As the night wore on, the many, diverse prostitutes moved in. A peculiar feature of The Blue Stocking were the presence of ‘Gravel’ or ‘Gravelstones’. These were disabled prostitutes, who either had one leg or one arm or possibly no legs at all. They were very popular with the large numbers of men who had returned from war with similar disabilities and who felt more comfortable with women like themselves.
Despite being under the strict protection of the ‘Ringvereine’ – a collection of criminal gangs – The Blue Stocking and it’s similar neighbours only lasted a further year under the ever watchful eyes of the Nazi Party. In January of 1934, Storm Troopers cordoned off almost the whole of the neighbourhood, raiding the many Dielen and arresting their owners and patrons.
As of 2009, the property is now occupied by the mitArt Bio Hotel, featuring 30 rooms over 3 floors and offering organic and specialist cuisine, massage suites and fitness rooms.