Mention the Berghain to any cool kid who’s been to Berlin and you’ll see their face light up as they enthusiastically share their experiences of going. I knew it was a big deal after a couple of friends separately mentioned it when I said I was going to Berlin; and my interest peaked when I read it was ‘arguably the world’s coolest club’ in my guidebook. Technically it’s a gay club, but it’s actually completely mixed.
Like an under-ager the first thing anyone talks about is how to get in, because the bouncers are notoriously selective. As I approached the entrance a couple of preppy sexy American girls – the type used to getting in anywhere – received a look of disgust from the bouncer for even trying. Unlike other bouncers who are simply hired muscle, the ones at the Berghain are an integral part of the club. They look like a motorcycle gang and carry out their duties with a religious zeal.
Seeing as no one else has a strategy for getting in I’ll give you mine. Firstly, go with Germans if you can – I meet a bunch at previous club – as they don’t like tourists. Secondly, dress uber casual – in Berlin this usually means all in black – or go for something out of the ordinary with gay connotations (e.g. bondage, tranny, sarong, etc.). Thirdly, you need to go at the right time. It’s an after-hours club, meaning no one goes until 4am at the earliest. Seemingly the queues can be really long earlier in the evening so I’d recommend going later – I went around 7am and got straight in. The bad news is the club is in a remote industrial estate and I didn’t see any others nearby, so if you don’t get in you’re in for a long taxi ride somewhere else.
The building is imposing, it’s a gigantic old Soviet power plant and the inside is every bit as impressive. It’s split over three levels, with two main dance floors and lots of smaller chill out areas. This means whilst it’s huge each section has its own distinct vibe and it doesn’t become soulless like some of the super clubs which only have one room. Being electronic music I’ll struggle to describe it, other than saying I remember it was great and the acoustics were fantastic.
Like every after-hours club almost everyone is high as evidenced by the multiple people going in and out of the unisex cubicle toilets. I’d heard all kinds of stories about the crazy antics that go on and the Berghain is definitely the sort of place where anything goes. But, on my visit it was all fairly tame. Sure, there was a fortyish year old guy wanking on a sofa in front of dozens of people who weren’t taking any notice of him in a chill out area. And there was a straight couple getting frisky in cubicle (there’s several dotted around the club). But, The Lab, the hard-core kinky/bdsm sex club downstairs was closed during my visit. So perhaps the real exhibitionists choose not to attend that evening.
In summary, the Berhain live up to its reputation and is amongst the best I’ve ever visited. So it’s definitely worth trying to get in. Good luck!