By Cathrin Schaer in Berlin
There are no tickets and barely any advertising. But the karaoke sessions that take place in what was once the Berlin Wall’s death strip every weekend are rapidly becoming an entertainment phenomenon. And it’s all thanks to an enterprising Irish cycle courier with a big bike and some speakers.
The skinny man in the black T-shirt and jeans faces the crowd, microphone in hand. There are around 2,000 people crowded around a small amphitheatre built into the hillside in Berlin’s Mauerpark, a recreational area located on the former path of the Berlin Wall’s death strip. They are all here on this sunny afternoon because of a regular Sunday event that is rapidly becoming an entertainment phenomenon in the German capital. No tickets are sold, barely any advertising is posted and no real money is made. Nonetheless, the Sunday afternoon outdoor karaoke sessions, held just on the edge of one of the city’s biggest flea markets in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, draws a capacity crowd. People are crouching on the hillside and flanking the small cobbled stage area where the karaoke machine has been set up. They jostle for a seat in the dust or on the concrete. And now Andre, a skinny and unprepossessing young man, is ready to perform.
To the shock, awe and ultimately delight of the crowd Andre will be doing a cover of “Hips Don’t Lie.” The music begins and somewhat unexpectedly, Andre even sounds a bit like Shakira. Even more unexpectedly, he dances like her. He high kicks, shakes, shimmies and waves his arms. His hips do not lie. And then, unashamedly, in the bright sunshine and obviously not at all intoxicated — he may be high on life, but that’s all — Andre gets down on all fours and wiggles his butt. Just like Shakira.
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