The Hotel Adlon in Berlin is a truly special place that offers its guests luxury and comfort in a breathtaking setting. Since its founding in 1907, the Adlon has redefined world-class hospitality and become a symbol of excellence and elegance. So it was less surprising that this year, high-ranking politicians, entrepreneurs, media makers and yes, even performance buddies found themselves here at the annual Federal Press Ball.
Magic from the first moment
As we stepped out of the Uber, surrounded by the excited crowd that filled the vibrant heart of Berlin, our nervousness became almost overwhelming. Our borrowed tuxedos may not have been tailored and were a little too tight in some places, but they served as our ticket to mingle with the crowd and soar in this exciting night.
We saw limousines pulling up, elegant evening gowns on the move, and the Brandenburg Gate towering majestically before us, kissed by the warming rays of the golden hour. Amidst the hustle and bustle of tourists, cabs and restaurants, the red carpet of the Hotel Adlon rose like an iceberg in the desert. This magnificent building seemed to invite us to enter its majestic halls and be enchanted by its beauty and elegance: we had arrived at the Federal Press Ball.
Rooms filled with food, drink and power
Room after room we fought our way through bars, buffets and doughnuts. One room more luxurious and elegant than the other. Marco and I (Felix) had in the meantime drunk us the courage to mingle with the not too mean people. Exactly one sparkling wine and two vodka sodas later, we were standing in the midst of ministers, lobbyists and whoever else you have to know. Each room had its own theme and sponsor. So Bayer, Hapag & Lloyd, Uber and Co. were reflected in the rooms. Culinarily the evening had to offer thus so some. Thus the Döner as one knows it became fast a truffle variant. Various popcorn variations, sushi and even a McCafé stand were on offer.
After we had fortified ourselves, we were drawn to the magnificent ballroom where the main event took place. Here we saw elaborate decorations, a stage for the band and a huge dance floor. Which was inaugurated by none other than German President Frank Walther Steinmeier and his wife. The mood became increasingly boisterous and there was an atmosphere of joy that immediately swept us away. We danced to the sounds of the music and enjoyed the company of our new acquaintances.
A special event with a very important message
In the middle of the night, the red carpets in front of the impressive wall of sponsors with their shiny names and logos were like a magnet for couples and loners who absolutely had to pose for their cell phones. But in addition to the colorful party atmosphere, the motto of the event was also clear: “For freedom of the press.” This year’s celebration was all about the freedom movement in Iran, which was a major concern for many.
Mathis Feldhoff, the chairman of the Federal Press Conference and charismatic host, spoke in his opening speech about the depressing issue of the imprisonment of journalists worldwide. He reminded the audience that there are currently an incredible 533 people in prison simply for their work. A number that is thought-provoking and makes the importance of press freedom all the more clear.
With strong commitment, actress Jasmin Tabatabai, who was born and raised in Iran, spoke about civil society’s fight for freedom in her native country before the dance event began. “The people of Iran are fighting empty-handed. They need us,” she stressed urgently, thanking the audience for the attention that this evening also drew to the suffering of the people there. Earlier, Can Dündar had spoken to the guests at the dinner set about repression and imprisonment of journalists in his native Turkey and thanked the German president for raising the issue with the Turkish president.
Similar to Dündar, a hopeful signal was sent at the end of Jasmin Tabatabai’s speech about “a terror regime that murders children”: “The people of Iran will free themselves from their rulers.” At around 10 p.m., Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, together with his wife Elke Büdenbender and the host couple, was then able to officially open the ball to the sounds of the Big Band of the German Armed Forces.
A few final words
Our freedom, our democracy, cannot be taken for granted. In many places in the world, people do not have the right to their own opinion. Of course we had a lot of fun at the Federal Press Ball and of course we enjoyed ourselves with food and drink, but at the end of the day we realized that this was only possible because we are free. It almost seems to be a matter of course to be allowed to have your own opinion (and maybe it should be), but unfortunately for billions of people this is not the case. We felt a bit of gratitude as we got into the Uber and headed back to the hotel. What an evening.