Berlin Drag Scene Back in Williamsburg, Party by Ostbahnhof to Rage On

Marcus Likesit and Audrey Ropeburn at the first Party by Ostbahnhof (Photo by Nicole Disser)
(Photo by Nicole Disser)

I had high expectations when the Party by Ostbahnhof, the performance-centric circuit rager inspired by Berlin’s “trash drag” scene, kicked off in December at Verboten. Derek Marshall, ex-pat owner of The Club in Kreuzberg, was infectiously giddy upon his return to the States. And the Party was bound to be a hit if it was any bit as raucous as Olympia Bukkakis, a regular drag performer at Marshall’s underground hot spot for the arty queer scene in the Bushwick of Berlin. Which is why I’m not at all surprised to see the Party’s return to Verboten on January 15.

The first event kicked off late, as parties are apt to do, but as the intro to the late-night festivities dragged on, my threshold for being entertained was quickly turning up. Where were the drag queens? I was promised drag queens. Suddenly, the music switched and an odd mix of people– queer, hetero-bores, seasoned New Yorkers, and lost-looking tourists alike– began shuffling toward the dance floor. As Derek recalled, the avant-garde burlesque performer “Deity Delgado undressed from her Captain America onesie and threw money at the audience.”

From left, Taylor di Pasquale (aka Olympia Bukkakis) and Derek Marshall in December 2015 (Photo by Nicole Disser)
From left, Taylor di Pasquale (aka Olympia Bukkakis) and Derek Marshall in December 2015 (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Shortly after, the audience began circling around… something. At first it was hard to see, but then a bizarro scene came into view. It was bondage daddy Marcus Likesit artfully tying up his sultry submissive, Audrey Ropeburn, who dangled from a knot of ropes like a sedate insect caught in a spider’s web, a demonstration of Shibari (Japanese bondage). Ropeburn looked like she was going to burst at any moment; every bit of her body was squeezed into impossible shapes that were becoming tighter and more distorted by the moment. Ouch, I kept thinking. And though her face generally told us, “It feels good, don’t worry,” every once in a while gritted teeth betrayed, “Holy shit that hurts.” 

The tension was building– even the drunkest guy in the room stopped screaming obscenities for a minute to observe a moment of awe-filled silence. There were pops and gasps as Marcus began snuffing out the lit candles balancing in the knots of the rope cocoon, by cracking a whip into the darkness. And suddenly, Ropeburn was free. They embraced and everyone clapped. 

Olympia Bukkkakis at December's Party by Ostbahnhof (Photo by Nicole Disser)
Olympia Bukkkakis at December’s Party by Ostbahnhof (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Derek agreed that the duo, “absolutely stole the show,” and recalled they “had the room completely captivated.” If there’s a better way to start a party, count me in, but you’re likely to at least match that experience at the second Party by Ostbahnhof going down January 15 at Verboten. “Apart from some of the performers, very little will change,” Derek promised. “With the exception of the timing of the performances. We learned a lot during our first event about how we should (and should not) be timing performances and DJ sets.”

So far, the Party has confirmed a handful of participating acts: Lonshi, a New York-based musician who will perform a “progressive-tech DJ set,” and Blaenk Minds from Berlin, a multi-media duo that will present a tripped-out, live DJ/VJ performance.

Marcus Likesit and Audrey Ropeburn at the first Party by Ostbahnhof (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Marcus Likesit and Audrey Ropeburn at the first Party by Ostbahnhof (Photo: Nicole Disser)

If you missed the insanity of Olympia Bukkakis‘ Evanescence-inspired drag set at the first one, here’s your chance to see her again. In fact, the Berlin-based trash drag queen promised to top her previous performance. “Last time I whet everyone’s appetites, this time they can expect to come away soaked,” Olympia said. Derek revealed that, “Apparently, she has a highly topical show about recent conflicts like the Twitter war between Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor.”

The Party by Ostbahnhof returns to Verboten on Friday, January 15 at 10 pm, tickets: $15 pre-sale / $20 regular price

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