Babylon Berlin: the real 1920s superclub behind Weimar-era thriller

The original venue that inspired the TV series’ flamboyant dance scenes was even wilder than the TV producers imagined

The nightclub at the heart of Babylon Berlin, the Weimar Republic-era TV drama that premiered on Sky UK this month, may share period features with the Kit Kat Klub where Liza Minelli once cocked her bowler hat in Cabaret. But the frantic flurry of sweaty limbs on its dance floor could equally be inside one of Berlin’s modern-day temples of thumping techno.

In an extraordinary 11-minute song-and-dance sequence in the show’s second episode, an ashen-faced Russian woman in tails performs a Marlene-Dietrich-meets-Kraftwerk routine flanked by semi-naked dancers in banana skirts while an ecstatic crowd jerks in sync to stabbing jazz rhythms: a generation half-reeling, half-dancing on the edge of the abyss.

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