Why do you go to a mall

The center clique : Pastime in the mall

The gray block looks bleak. Wall to wall and somewhere the red letters shine: “Gesundbrunnencenter”. It smells of doner kebab and sausage, traffic is heavy on the street and people are rushing around. There are three girls in the middle, they meet at the entrance to the center, as is so often the case.

"Nothing going on and it's boring at home," says Dana. That's why the 15-year-old student goes to the Gesundbrunnencenter in Wedding with her two friends of the same name, Cansu and Cansu. They set off from here. Preferably in the branches of hip clothing stores like H&M. But not to go shopping: “We mostly try on new items and then take photos of each other in the locker room.” A little luck in the H&M locker room when the pocket money isn't enough to buy the clothes. It is the longing for consumption.

Hanging out and doing nothing? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! Look around and let yourself drift is the motto - and not just from Dana and her friends. Many young people in Berlin and in other large cities prefer to go on forays through the temples of consumption than to meet in the countryside. Shopping centers are the petrol stations of the big city: this is where people meet, there they want to see and be seen. In America the kids from the shopping centers even have a nickname: “Mallrats”, the name is derived from the word shopping mall. There is even a US film with the same title that stars Ben Affleck. In it, two boys are abandoned by their girlfriends and distracted from their lovesickness in a mall.

"For years young people have preferred to meet inside than outside because there is nothing left to conquer there," says youth researcher Karl Hurrelmann from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. In technical jargon, the phenomenon is called “domesticization” because young people today are simply more at home than they used to be and are looking for similar shelters outside.

“Visiting the Gesundbrunnencenter is simply part of our routine,” says the brown-haired Cansu, “sometimes we just take the S-Bahn through the city. But in the end we always end up here. ”The center is a bit like a second home, thinks the other Cansu with the blonde hair. Both are 19 years old and are just finishing high school. They know Dana, who is four years younger, from their neighborhood in Wedding. It never gets boring at the Gesundbrunnencenter because they always come up with something, such as the thing with the photo sessions.

Actually, it is only right for the operators that the cliques meet in the centers. Joana Fisher, manager of the Gesundbrunnencenter, confirms this assumption: “Shopping is part of leisure behavior, and young people are tomorrow's customers. So what would I get if I drive them away as long as they stick to the rules of the center? ”And Hurrelmann says:“ They are making the center their territory. ”

This is also how the friends Salomon, Lars and Leon see it. “You can't behave as you want, feel independent and chill out with many people of the same age at home,” says 14-year-old Leon. He couldn't just show up with ten guys. "When the weather is bad outside, you can have a great time here," says Salomon. Walking around, walking through the aisles, looking into the shops, parting and then meeting again, for example for a meal at McDonalds or a Chinese snack bar. “I like to spend money on this because it's different from eating at home,” says the 15-year-old. Dana and her friends also love to meet for dinner in the so-called gourmet mile of the Gesundbrunnencenter.

Youth researcher Hurrelmann explains why eating out is so appealing for young people: "The young people flee from their parents' dining table because they want to cut themselves off from their parents." Many are annoyed by the rules at home. So eating together in the clique becomes a social event, under one's own direction without any regulations. The fast food chains have also made use of this knowledge and rely on cheap offers. "They are something like a modern youth club," says Hurrelmann.

Dana vigorously denies that they come to the mall because of the boys: “We're not interested in them.” Diloya and Emilia, who regularly go to Alexa, see things differently. “Here you can easily chat and date with guys. We'll meet at the entrance the next day and have an ice cream together, ”says 18-year-old Emilia.

Ali, Cihan and Ramu also come for the girls. They know exactly where to meet people they like. “There are nicer girls walking around in the Alexa than in the Gesundbrunnencenter. We see them on the escalator and if they look good we try to chat with them, ”says 18-year-old Ali.

Today they don't care about the girls. The three boys sit on the small, red benches in front of the Playstation station in Saturn in the Gesundbrunnencenter. They describe their hobby of hanging out in a different center several times a week as “hopping”: “Alexa, Europe Center, Sony Center, they are all different,” says 15-year-old Ramu, “we meet up once or twice Week after school, and then we decide where to go. ”Usually there are four or five people, but sometimes eight. As he speaks, he looks hypnotized at the screen in front of him and frantically presses the controller of a game console. Besides girls, electronics markets are the best distraction after school. “For boys there is nothing more to do in the center than gamble. But at least you can see more here than in the park - there are only trees. "

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