This is going to be the first of many such posts, I hope, where I review an event or location that I hope will be of interest to fisters and kinksters. I was hoping to do this first for the venues I regularly attend in Berlin, but as I just came back from Cologne it made sense to start with a venue that’s completely new to me while it’s fresh in my mind: Pullermanns in central Cologne, Germany. I visited on a Sunday, which fortunately happened to be their monthly FF night (fourth Sunday – not the last Sunday, make sure you don’t make that mistake on months with five Sundays). The party is pretty early, starting at 2pm, which to my Berlin standards seemed incredible, but it means they can clean up after the FF portion of the day and reopen for the less specialised clientele. Other themed Sundays include WS and sports gear, with the same hours. Mondays are naked day. Other than that, it seems to operate as a cruising bar without a dresscode or agenda, rather than as an SM bar specifically.

Located pretty close to the centre of the city, and not far from where many of the gay bars and businesses are, Pullermanns seems to be Cologne’s kinkiest and cruisiest option. Essentially it consists of a very large, well lit, and casual bar area, and a rather dark play area that includes an actual darkroom portion (basically a long corridor, not used by anyone while I was there). The play area has some standard playroom features, including two slings (both of which behind “bars” that can be closed for a look but don’t touch arrangement), one or two cages, a cross (as far as I remember there were no restraints attached, so bring your own), a long “fuck bench” that could fit three bottoms for fisting (including two places for the tops to kneel which I found really comfortable, especially for rimming), and a couple of more private booths. It’s quite small, literally just one space with things arranged along the walls and a large “cell” in the middle with a sling in it. The lighting could be better, but I guess my taste would be too much light for most people. I don’t know whether they have the flexibility to provide more lighting on more “technical” nights, like fisting, and then bring the lights back down for their cruisier nights. Among Berlin locations it feels the most like Club Culture Houze. It’s basically a setup that seems to encourage voyeurism.

The system is pretty simple – you give the bartender your name when you enter, he starts a tab for you, and gives you an IKEA shopping bag (yes, really) to put your unnecessary clothes in. You pay for all of your drinks at the end, and the bartender somehow manages to remember everyone by name. On the FF night what people were wearing varied a lot, but in general the tops kept most of their clothes on. Bottoms generally wore fetish gear with various degrees of nudity. I think you will feel quite comfortable regardless of what you choose to wear. Other than Mondays they really don’t have a dresscode at all. The clothing made it pretty clear who was a top and who was a bottom, fortunately.

The FF event itself was quite different from what you get in Berlin on the regular FF nights. As I will probably get to complain eventually, places like Böse Buben in Berlin very much have the culture of “everyone’s versatile, we take turns servicing each other”, which really doesn’t work for me. To me two versatile guys playing together is a waste of two bottoms. Anyway, this was not the case here, or at least I don’t remember much switching going on. People were also a lot more forthcoming and eager than in Berlin, where bottoms especially wait to be courted and never ask for what they want. The downside of this, is there were some uninvited participants, who were a bit too eager to get involved with someone else’s scene. Fortunately the bottom that I was with was assertive enough to put a stop to it, because I have to confess I’m a bit of a pussy when it comes to these things, especially when I don’t the culture of the place.There was a pretty good mix of people  in all senses – age, ethnicity, looks, and experience levels – but it was definitely not a massive party. However the playroom felt quite full at times, and everyone who was there was there to play, not to look or pose. It got quieter pretty rapidly around 6, though there were some dedicated players still at it until they turned the lights up around 8 and started cleaning the playroom for the evening.

Personally, I found the early start and end quite welcome, though I didn’t get there till about 4. It makes sense for a Sunday, and it lets people who have to travel come here relatively early on a “schoolnight”. I’m not sure it would work in a city like Berlin, but as a person who finds all-nighters exhausting a party that starts at 2pm is a much better idea to me than one that starts at 2am. I was tempted to stay on and see what the bar was like when there is no official theme on, after 9pm, but since I was going to be driving the whole of Monday I decided against it. For me this is the type of event where, if I was a local, I would be more likely to go if I knew one of my regulars was going, rather than taking the chance of meeting someone there. Most people seem to know each other – and the bartender clearly knew everyone! – but it didn’t have the cliquey feel that similar places in Berlin have. Perhaps because there’s not as many tourists as in Berlin, the fresh meat factor works much better.

The best thing about Pullermanns, and what I found very surprising, is that they charge no cover – and as far as I remember even the coatcheck is free (and not only for your coat, naturally). I’m not quite sure how they stay in business, because the drinks were not expensive and the bartender, a very sexy bear with giant nipple rings, was pretty generous with the complimentary shots. It’s a fairly new business but they just celebrated their third year so they must be doing something right. In any case, since there is no cover, there is no reason not to give this place a try even if you are not certain it’s your thing, whether you are there on one of the themes Sundays, a naked Monday, or a regular evening out.