Über raw, dirty, hardcore techno pumps menacingly from the speakers, bouncing off black walls over a pulsating pit of party animals. Daylight has no place here. Instead, techno-worshippers swing on huge beds suspended by ominously creaking chains; rows of black-clad clubbers knock back shots served by bartenders sporting dog collars, leather pants and little else.
Having hosted almost every big name in the genre, Berghain is a true techno Mecca. In Berlin’s nightlife hall of fame, Carl Craig’s legendary 3pm closing-time set sits alongside the frequent spins of resident DJs Nick Höppner and Norman Nodge. The techno is dark and twisted, reflecting the industrial atmosphere in its purest form. Regardless of performance, once you pass through the formidable doors of this towering former power-station, get ready for the night – or usually day-and-a-half – of your life.
Hedonism knows no bounds in Berghain. Partiers openly indulge in sexual acts and invite the participation of total strangers. The infamous dark rooms are crawling with adventurous first-timers and promiscuous regulars alike. Inhibitions have no place here. If, however, you’re more on the reserved side and don’t fancy tripping over a cavorting couple in pitch darkness, fear not: there is no pressure to do anything you are not comfortable with and no shame if you simply want to dance for hours on end.
The door policy is famously tough; best advice is to look like you couldn’t care less about getting in. Don’t be intimidated by the tattooed, bearded, grizzly bears of bouncers policing the doors: they can smell fear. Go in by yourself. Don’t be wasted before you get inside. Don’t overdo it on the outfit front. And go early; queuing for at least an hour is all part of the experience.
The drinks prices are surprisingly reasonable (Jaeger shots are a mere €2.50, Berliner Pilsner only €3), so the biggest shock might perhaps come when, finally returned home, you glimpse yourself in a mirror. Cameras are forbidden and the club is completely mirrorless, which reflects how much Berghain is not about the right look but all about the right attitude.
Certainly not for the faint hearted it is little wonder that this club is so exclusive. It requires serious stamina and total commitment to partake in Berghain’s weekends of partying. For more chilled house and the occasional glimpse of sunlight, venture upstairs to the sister venue Panorama Bar. Be warned, however, it is only slightly more chilled.
Team Curso/CTR Berlin, Louise Gill
Wriezener Karree, 10243, Friedrichshain, berghain.de
Saturday 12am – as long as you can last on Monday!, €12, S-Bahn Ostbahnhof