The Game

Berlin 1933

In the ’20s Europe, the real action had been here, in Berlin. If ever a historical era blurred into one continuous, manic party, it was Berlin during the Weimar years. The most creative minds of Eastern Europe converged on the city to take advantage of its boundless freedom. Through the bar smoke you might spot Vladimir Nabokov, Marc Chagall, Marlene Dietrich, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht, Lotte Lenya, or Kurt Weill. At least 150 venues called themselves cabarets – their shows were made up of five to 10 minute sets of singing, stand-up comedy, dances, theatrical skits, poetry readings, and political satires. They were hosted, as in the film Cabaret, by a witty master of ceremonies.

But all of this is now crumbling. Hitler has ascended to power with unparalleled swiftness, and the process is accompanied by a wave of terror against political opponents, the liberal elite, the Jewish population and other ‘undesirable’ groups. Essential basic rights and the legal order are invalidated, trade unions disbanded, and political parties and social organisations are in the process of becoming outlawed or forced to shut down.

The Real Silhouette

The larp takes place at the Club Silhouette. The real Silhouette was a Kabarettclub in Berlin. It was one of the very few Weimar-era clubs where both male and female cross-dressing was encouraged. It opened in 1926, on the corner of Geisbergstraße and Kulmbachstraße at the border of Schöneberg and Charlottenburg. Seemingly always under a blue haze of cigarette and cigar smoke, the club attracted film stars, cabaret artists and some very wealthy nobility. Conrad Veidt, Maria Orska, Anita Berber, Hilde Hildebrand and a young Marlene Dietrich were regulars alongside Princes, Counts and Barons. Men and women in smoking jackets and smart suits could be seen alongside other men and women in sequined evening gowns and jewels.

The bar area to the front was long and narrow and featured very low lighting and Japanese lanterns. The bar was furnished with many comfortable armchairs. Past the bar, you would enter a smaller room at the rear with a carpeted dance floor and some raised booth seating for more intimate encounters. A small orchestra kept the dancing going, with occasional performances throughout the night from female and male drag acts. Partying until dawn was the norm. The club, like so many others, closed in 1933. Today it is an unremarkable residential corner.

For the sake of the larp we assume that it persisted into May. We envision a Silhouette that has flown under the radar so far, but its clientèle is dwindling and the situation is rapidly becoming untenable, politically as well as economically. It is no longer possible to imagine that things will continue the way they were.

If you want to know more

The larp is loosely based on the movie ‘Cabaret’ and the book ‘Goodbye to Berlin‘ by Christopher Isherwood.

This blog contains excellent information about people from the cultural scene in Berlin during the Weimar republic. Wether assimilated by the nazi regime, resisting it, or fleeing it, you can find inspiration for your characters’ fate here.

This blog will teach you how to dress and party in Berlin the 1920'ies.