Video: Is Berlin A Career Killer?

The way I see it, most human beings distribute their time into three categories: 1) Rest: This includes exercise, relaxation, down-time, and any other health related activity. 2) Work: Time spent producing work, thinking about work, etc. 3) Social: Dates, dancing, but most of all, simply “Paaaaaarty machen”! But what happens when you don’t have time for all three? Which one is eliminated first? A recent article in the New York Times documents the downward spiral of a group of starry-eyed Aussie musicians who came to Berlin to produce music and ended up letting the non-stop party lifestyle ruin their career prospects. So, in a city where parties go for 4 days straight and beer is cheaper than water, can a creative individual still be productive?

To the Front Lines

We took our questions to the front lines to ask real Berliners how they navigate through the minefield of temptation while still producing artistic work. We decided to choose two very different environments for our sample groups: a networking breakfast at Art Connect Berlin and an underground “hipster” club in Wedding, Panke. Expecting to see a very clear distinction between the career-driven professionals at the networking breakfast and the drunk and sweaty clubbers, we were completely shocked by the outcome. Although the responses did vary, there seemed to be a general consensus that although the Berlin lifestyle did offer many distractions, it did not generally deter from productivity. In fact, some even claimed that having a dynamic social life was an essential component of their careers. “The thing is, partying is actually what makes Berlin work,” Catherine Duquette, a performance artist at ABC told us. “It’s how collaborations are built.”


Even if some of the clubbers had some momentary trouble remembering what exactly they do, even the most inebriated party animals seemed to have exciting career prospects. From creating a new blog, to performance art, to instructing water dance, our interviewees were inventive and dedicated professionals some clocking nearly eleven hours in a work day. So how do they manage to still enjoy the Berlin nightlife? Time management? Lack of sleep? I think the technique varies for each individual. Whatever the case, our conclusion is that Berlin is NOT an environment which prevents creative production. 

Say Wha?

After reaching our surprising conclusion, my Australian coworker Hera Sparnon proclaimed begrudgingly, “Leave it to a couple of Aussie boys to come to Berlin, pick up a nasty coke habit, and blame the city for their problems.” I have to admit, I must agree. I think any situation is what you make of it, and although yes, Berlin has a lot of distractions, it is also one of the most thriving creative environments in the world. So Berliners, keeping going out there and making amazing things happen every day, then go get yourself a nice cold beer (or maybe a shot of tequila depending on the day you’re having). You deserve it. 

Article by Kirsten Hall