Exploring Berlin has been truly exciting for all three years. Secret venues, old theatres at midnight, weird parks, abandoned spy stations, life under the ground, inspiring personalities were found and met within this time, but only three summers later I’ve visited Clärchens Ballhaus. Built in 1895, the once-grand building has been through a lot. On September 13th 1913 Fritz Bühler opened the dance hall „Bühlers Ballhaus“
(Bühler’s Ballroom) in the back of Auguststrasse 24/25, which now ended up in the touristic center full of stylish onlookers and happy locals. It became known as Clärchens Ballhaus after Bühler was killed in WWI and his widow, Clara, took over the business.
During the peak, there were some 900 dancing establishments inBerlin, then already known for its nightlife, though just a few have survived. With such fierce competition, Clärchen’s dance hall on Auguststrasse in the city center had to find creative ways to attract customers. After the war ended in 1918, “Aunt Clärchen”, as many called her, held events for widows, who danced with each other because men were scarce. Meanwhile, the opulent upstairs ballroom was rented out for outlawed sword fights that often left the floor covered in blood.
Now the place is still holding the old dancing like: swing, cha-cha-cha, tango etc. And if you’ve never done it before, they will teach you. Ground floor has a bar and a kitchen, the lush gardens are buzzing with people sitting among various bushes and grape trees. Regular concerts and dancing make it the Ball House for what it stands. The famous Mirror Room can be rented for private events, and it’s probably the most impressive open space in the entire building. Quentin Tarantino used Clärchens as a location for his film Inglorious Bastards.
Lona Jakob is the oldest Ball House visitor, informed Spiegel in 2013. At a spry 91 years old, she is the oldest regular guest at Clärchens Ballhaus. It’s where the former ballerina met her late husband in the 1940s, and where she returned late in life after his death to rediscover her love of dancing. Now, she dresses up in sequins and heels (despite breaking her leg not long ago) to come dancing here with friends and her daughter every Sunday. And now, as then, she always waits to be asked to dance.
There are tons of stories in the walls of these building, most of them we will never know, but we can feel the spirit and enjoy it until it lasts. Breath it in.
If you want to have a coffee with me there, feel free to drop a line.