Risiko used to exist at Yorckstrasse 48 from 1981 to 1986. Today, in the same place, a travel agency that specializes in train tickets called Kopfbahnhof occupies the room.
I was there a couple of days ago for the pictures you can see here, and the gateway to hedonism that used to be Risiko didn’t leave any traces. Everything is different, but the stories remain.
Maria Zastrow worked in the bar in 1983 when she was 18 years old. In an article from Tip Berlin, she describes Risiko as an insane and unclassifiable mix that made it different from any other bar in the world. It didn’t have a closing time, and you would have speed until you couldn’t take it anymore. Anyone important in the punk and alternative scene would come to Berlin would be there.
Nick Cave, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Christiane F. were some of the people that used to frequent the bar, and, in its prime, Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzenden Neubauten worked behind the counter.
If you have watched B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin, Mark Reeder shows the bar, and you can get a glimpse of how it used to be.
Open drug use and heavy drinking were the norms, and it wasn’t just for the bar customers. Alex Kögler, the owner from 1983 until the final days of the bar, used to get so high at Risiko that the staff would hide some of the money from him before he could buy heroin so the bar could continue functioning correctly. He died in 2014, and his life story is pretty impressive.
On April 30, 1986, Risiko opened for the last time, and Uli M Schueppel did a short movie about it. I’m glad this piece of Berlin’s nightlife can still be watched and preserved.
Before I moved to Berlin, if I had to think about the city, I would create a town with the images from the movies and documentaries I watched about it.
For me, Berlin was a mixture of Run Lola Run, the Berlin Wall, Atari Teenage Riot, and the drug scene of the 1980s in West Berlin. This is why I loved the Last Morning of Risiko; it shows a city that still exists in my mind even though it doesn’t make much sense it.
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