Monday, May 12, 2014

Eden's Berlin Saloons: What Was Going On in 1966?

In my previous blog, I mentioned visiting in August 1966 the "Old Eden Saloon" on Kurfuerstendamm in Berlin. When I wrote about that, something did not seem quite right. To check the accuracy of my memory, I searched a box with papers, clippings, and mementos I collected during my time in Europe in the 1960s and early 1970s. 

I found what I was looking for, a single sheet of paper folded to make a four- page brochure. From this brochure (see below), I determined that I had visited the "New Eden Saloon," not the "Old Eden Saloon." And I confirmed, as I recalled, that Lynda Bird Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon Johnson, had been there a month earlier. I guess when you are 19 years old and are making your first trip to Europe, such things make an impression.

The Eden chain included not only the "New" and "Old" Edens, but also the "Eden Playboy Club."  I did not visit it, probably because I could not afford it; even if I could have, I'm not sure I had the chutzpah to go to such a place.  

A search of the internet yielded some surprising information about the Eden saloons. Their names were not an allusion to the Garden of Eden, which I suspected, but contained the name of the owner, Rolf Eden. Apparently, he was Germany's hedonistic Hugh Hefner in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Hefner, as recently as 2010, he, in his 80's, had a string of pretty young girls, aspiring actresses no doubt, parade with him in front of the press. In 2011, a movie was made about him in Germany.  

More about him can be found as the following website:  https://www.berlinale.de/en/archiv/jahresarchive/2011/02_programm_2011/02_Filmdatenblatt_2011_20112432.php#tab=filmStills

The following is an excerpt from that website:
In his younger days Rolf Eden ran a string of night clubs and discotheques. ‘Eden Salon’, ‘New Eden’, ‘Eden Playboy Club, ‘Cabaret Schl├╝sselloch’ and ‘Big Eden’, which he sold in 2002, were all something of an institution in West Berlin, and Eden himself is still a popular topic in Berlin’s tabloids. Fifteen thousand nights without sleep, one thousand bottles of champagne and three thousand female conquests – these are the kind of statistics that make good cover stories. And whenever he buys a new car, such as his Rolls Royce Convertible in his favourite shade of arctic white, a snap of him in his new wheels, new girlfriend in tow, duly appears in the news.
In this third part of his trilogy about ego-driven men (DER PANZERKNACKER and ACHTERBAHN being the first two) Peter D├Ârfler takes a look at the biography of Rolf Eden, a man who invented himself sixty years ago and looms large in the history of city’s colourful nightlife.
Here is the historic artifact documenting what was going on at the Eden Saloons in August 1966. Note that the last page has an advertisement for Gorbachev Vodka.  I assume the name is unrelated to the man who would become head of the Soviet Union more than twenty years later. . 




Page one has a picture with "Linda Johnson" (actually Lynda Bird Johnson, center, facing camera) visiting the New Eden Saloon. The man with her  is -- I think -- Chuck Robb, whom she married the following year. He later was elected governor of Virginia and served in the U.S. Senate. The young woman holding the large boot-glass full of beer (in honor of Texas, I suppose) is not identified.

This page shows the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and hours of operation of the three Saloons. The New Eden was open from noon to 5 a.m. 




The New Eden Saloon  offered a "Mini-Show" at 10 pm. a Las Vegas Midnight show at midnight, and a Sexy-Show at 2 a.m. The featured singer was David (The Red Sea Singer); The Shamrocks, a band from England "famous from television and records," provided the dance music.

The program says:  "Why not come at noon to the Eden Saloon!  Coffee and Food -- American grill specialties daily from noon."



This page shows what was going on at the Eden Playboy Club and the Old Eden Saloon..

The Playboy club apparently had pretty young women who waded in a swimming pool with their clothes on.  It offered "Original Super Dancing" and promised to be elegant, modern, and good value, providing exclusively for visitors:

Lord Knud, the star disk jockey
Eden Go-Go Girls
A swimming pool
Dance competitions
Table telephones
Bathing time (???)
Music movies (early MTV?)
Restaurant

The Old Eden Saloon was obviously for a different crowd. Its entertainment was provided by the Manfred Burzlaff Combo; also Fanja from Moscow played piano in the cocktail room. This saloon offered jazz, the twist, dance competitions, classic films and a cable railway (?).  
The program also announced that the Keyhole Cabaret was reopening on August 19, 1966. 




The final page is an advertisement for Gorbachev Vodka from West Berlin. It is "pure like fresh snow."

This brochure provides an interesting glimpse at a little slice of life in Berlin in 1966.

20 comments:

  1. Dan, just found this . I was stationed in Berlin with the army from 1965-67. Spent many many nights at the Old Eden. Your post brought back memories, almost all good. Went to the New Eden once then found the Ole Eden and never left, for a homesick G.I. the American female tourists in the summer was heaven. If you missed the Old Eden you missed something truly unique. Thanks for the memories, John

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    1. Thanks for your note. I am sure that being stationed in Berlin during this period had both its advantages and scary moments. Sorry I didn't make it to Old Eden, but the New Eden was an adventure for this boy making his first trip to Europe.

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  2. I went there also ait the years 1970_72

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  3. I first visited West Berlin in May 1967 with English pop singer David Garrick who had a massive No-1 German hit with a record titled "Dear Mrs Applebe". At Eden's invitation we visited the Old Eden, New Eden and the Eden Playboy which I loved. The following day David appeared in concert at the Duetschlandhalle with The Beach Boys. After the gig we returned that night to the Playboy. The following day we flew back to England with happy memories of my first visit to West Berlin.
    Then I was delighted to hear David had been contracted to star in rock musical 'Robinson 2000' at the Theater des Westerns which was due to rehearse for two months prior to its run. We stayed at the Bristol Kempinski Hotel where one evening I had cocktails in the bar with American movie actress Rosalind Russell star of the movie 'Gypsy'.
    During our long stay in West Berlin I visited the Playboy every night, during that time I became friendly with all Eden's go-go girls and still have happy memories of Uta, Doris, Annelie, Margie, Sylvie, Carmen and Regina etc. Uta was my favourite and she shared DJ duties with resident DJ Pedro, great times were had by all. A few months later Iwhen the musical closed I actually worked for Eden and introduced Flower Power to West Berlin (possibly West Germany) via a series of Flower Parties which were covered by BBC Television also the Herald Tribune.
    There are many times I have wanted to turn the clock back and be in The Playboy again with its go-go girls, a bottle of Johnny Walker for DM65, tables with telephones, bath-time in the swimming pool and bopping to the latest pop records courtsey of Pedro and the wonderful Uta. Great memories!

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    1. Great bit of personal history. I'm envious: hanging out with the go-go girls at the Eden Playboy. No doubt a "groovy" time and great scene, as we would say in the 60s.

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    2. I was dating Margie in67 I play records upstairs in the old eden. (The school room).we just about lived in the old eden 1966to 1968 a time in my life I will never forget ..

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    3. Great story, great memories. You had some enviable experiences at the Old Eden Saloon. The latter years of the 60s were an exciting time; Berlin was a unique city; and no doubt the Old Eden provided some remarkable moments.

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    4. Gosh - I was a go-go girl in 1969 or thereabouts. I was friends with a Margie! Could it have been the same Margie! Wow!

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  4. was there hanging out at old eden and danced in several movies for rolf eden. I was a regular. was with security service out of templehoff. also danced upstairs in school room and downstairs. our little entourage wore a gold berlin bear around our necks. thanks for memories

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    1. Thanks for the comment! Its great to hear about the experiences of the folks who were part of the Old Eden and have rich memories of it.

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    2. Hey I still have my bear and door pass , my son took my boot to California my Nick name was shrouder.I'm on face book . Would be good to hear from you still get cards from Tina. Anonymous go go girl Margie I went out with is the one and the same ,beautiful with long black hair with bangs.

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    3. Did any of you know the regular crew of Air force guys that hung out in the eden 66 to 68. Please respond

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    4. Did any one know some of the regular GI,s that hung at the old eden. 1066 _1968 ?.

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    5. I was in the Air Force at Templehof Dec.65/Oct.68 Old Eden was my favorite hang-out, but Casanova Bar sold more 50 pfennig beer to me as it was a stones throw from the base. The only AF friend I remember spending every free moment at the Old Eden was Wayne Baker. He was a very good dancer and was from West Virginia.
      Any chance any of the Edens are still open in Berlin?

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  5. Unbelievable as this may be in 1969 I was a go-go girl at the Playboy Eden. There WAS a pool with extremely cold water. WE wore bathing suits in the pool and "prizes" were offered to patrons to get them into the pool. Each table was covered with a white table cloth, had a phone and a softly lit lamp. Many people ask me if I was hassled there and I never was. Men were polite. While I was there the go-go girls walked down Kurfurstendamm Strasse to the Old Eden to put on a show there. I never danced at the New Eden but did go there. On some Sundays we were asked to walk up and down Kurfurstendamm Strasse to hand out flyers. (I had gone Berlin to visit a friend whose US Airforce husband was stationed there. It was her idea to apply for a job.) On Saturday evenings (early Sunday mornings) we stayed until the wee hours of the morning and then had to make soft boiled eggs and toast for anyone there that late. Not my favorite part of the job as by then I was really exhausted. I can remember walking home at about 3-4am with the sun blazing away but streets totally empty. With a couple of friends walked up a platform that had been built to see on the other side of the wall. As we looked across the East Berlin Russian armed guards were looking back at us with binoculars. It was an interesting and exciting place. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go. Eventually went to West Germany to dance at a discotheque there and ended up staying in Germany for 2 years. Fond memories.

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  6. Thanks for your memories of this fascinating time and place in history. These details are so interesting!

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  7. Was there as a student. Old Eden was it.There was another club on the rooftop of a highrise but forgot the name!

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    1. The big six I belive

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  8. I was a DJ for AFN Berlin 66-68. I was asked by Rolf Eden, after being recognized at the Saloon if I would become a DJ at his new place called The Big Eden. I am now 70 and sending my daughter who is working in Berlin to see where this was. One night I brought The Bee Gee's and the American Olympic Ice Skater Peggy Flemming who I am still in contact with to the Big Eden. I have pictures. Should I go on? 1-16-2017

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    1. What great experiences, and your memories are priceless. I would love to hear more of them. The last part of the 60s were an exciting time to be in Berlin and the Edens were obviously happening places.

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