Bill202 saidI'm planning my first trip to Berlin. I'm reading some things about mandatory nudity, mandatory swimsuits, always wearing flip flops, etc. Apparently this is a very important regime and violations lead to expulsion. My German is not up to reading lists do's and don't. Would appreciate any protocol hints for gyms and going to the baths!
I was stationed 2 years in Berlin, but it was before the time I had come out and so I didn't visit any bathhouses there myself (plus the US Army forbade it). Nevertheless I was aware of some of that scene secondhand, through German friends, and from what the US Army tracked about them. They were under loose surveillance because they were off-limits to US personnel, and considered a security risk.
Berlin has a long history of having a very extreme underground sex scene. Be careful you choose a relatively "vanilla" gay club or bathhouse, unless you want some really strange & hard core scenes, especially BDSM.
I did use an ordinary German gym a few times, and an indoor swimming pool. The Germans are indeed very focused on rules & regulations, some that an American might find insignificant. But to a German, any rule is a rule worth obeying, so do check beforehand. A perfect stranger will come up to you and berate you for not doing the right thing.
That pool, BTW, had nude swimming during men's hours. I remember one time the US Army had scheduled to use it exclusively for a fitness class, which included a woman. But a mistake accidentally put a Berlin men's firefighter group in there, too, and they refused to leave.
So everyone compromised and each group took one half the pool. Except the male firefighters had no swim suits, which they never used in training together. The presence of a woman didn't bother them in the least, and the female US soldier said she was cool with it, too. The US soldiers all wore swim suits, of course, and I know this because I had given that woman a ride over there, and stayed to watch. Watch the naked firefighters, needless to say...