It has been a while since I wrote any piece on the music events and locations I travel to beside Tomorrowland. So, what better way to kick things off than having a look inside Berghain one of the world’s most infamous techno clubs.
Nestled in the heart of East Berlin, Berghain has become an institution in the techno scene since 2004. This is due to its no camera policy, an amazing roster of local and international talent, it’s world-famous sound system and for the lurid and sensational stories which have arisen from throughout its history. This has made it one of the most famous clubs in Germany.
These stories range from extreme fetish and bondage stories to the infamous bouncers and the door policy. This hedonistic imagery isn’t promoted or denied by the club.
History of Berghain
The club emerged in 2004 following the closure of a similar club called the Ostgut. The previous club catered for the gay and fetish scene in Berlin, which the Berghain still does but to a lesser extent.
What does Berghian mean, well the name derives from the location of Berghain between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.
The club is located in an old Power station which is the reason for its huge size and minimalistic interior. You will notice when you get into Berghain it is dated and maintained just enough for patrons. All of this adds to the aesthetic of the place.
How to get into Berghain
Like most people, I found myself checking out Vice, Reddit and other forums on the best way to enter the club. There are a few common knowledge, things to follow and a few that are special just for the Berghain bouncers and the Berghain Queue.
- Do not be Drunk or high.
- Don’t consume alcohol where the bouncers can see. (There are little kiosks and if you are far back in the line have a few drinks).
- Stay quiet in the line. (You can talk, but once you are in the final stretch it is much better to stay silent).
- Go in small groups. (Two or three at most)
- The bouncers usually ask how many are in Group. Do your best to reply in German or tell them you don’t speak German in German.
- Also, you may be asked who is playing. This is something you should know already.
- Wear all back, it seems to be popular, you will see other colours and body parts inside but to be safe, black is best. (I guess the regulars have a little more leniency).
- Don’t skip the line. You will be called out or spotted and that’s even worse.
- Avoid peek teams or go when smaller events are on such as the Panorama bar.
- Sunday day is one of the quietest days, the club is mainly open from 6 pm Saturday until well into Monday with small events usually held on Wednesday and Friday.
My experience inside Berghain, Panorama bar
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The line to enter the Panorama bar only took 30 minutes. Which I was told was quite good. The line moved fast and everyone kept relatively quite. We did see some people get rejected from Berghain so we were a little nervous.
I and my friend got to the top of the line and we’re told to wait. That’s when I knew we were getting inside Berghain.
The reason for this wait is simple. Firstly they want to check you are not too intoxicated, speak to you a little in German and more pragmatically, they path you down inside the entrance and put stickers over your phone’s camera.
It’s not all smoke and mirrors to get into one of the best techno clubs in Berlin. They are pragmatic.
Once you have paid entrance head to the cloakroom. You are going to be hot and it’s going to be very smokey so save yourself some laundry and put your jacket away.
My first visit was only in the Panorama room as I was there on a Friday.
What to expect inside the Panorama bar:
When you get upstairs you can go left or right. Left leads you to the dance floor and bar, that’s essentially it for this side. There are a few seating areas close to the bar, but you probably don’t sit down.
To the right of the stairs, you will find the toilets, which are unisex and chillout areas. Upstairs you will find more chill-out spots and a view over the dancefloor.
Below the stairs, where the dance floor is you can find some random little box rooms, these I decided not to enter.
If you want a look at some of the very few images from inside Berghain check out this piece form Vice.
Drinks are cheap and good, you can smoke inside, you will see some strange outfits and behaviour when inside, but nothing I haven’t witnessed before. You will see guys making out, guys will probably hit on you, dudes and women will either be removing some clothes or wearing some weird-ass outfits. It’s all part of the fun, so just roll with it.
If you’re straight just say so, I was fine although it made for some weird conversations as the night wore on.
Being a techno club, you will very likely see people high. I would guess if you are going to Berghain this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
You will notice there are no mirrors or reflective surfaces about, and without a camera, you will probably rarely take out your phone as there is little need when you are having so much fun.
The 14 hours I sent inside went by fast, especially after I lost my friend when he decided to venture home sometime during the night.
Things to note inside Berghain
- Entrance is no more than €20 even for big events.
- Drinks inside are cheap, two beers and a few shots came to under €20.
- No pictures or videos are permitted inside, guest and staff will inform you or lead you outside.
- You are given wrist bands so if you need to leave for the ATM, meet friend etc you can return.
- Wearing black is a key point of getting in, as is speaking German.
- It is not a gay club, but there is plenty of Gay action going on so if this puts you off then maybe Berghain isn’t for you.
- The club is wholeheartedly techno, although on occasion there will be other acts to enjoy.
Commonly asked questions?
Where can I find out the Berghain line-up?
One of the best sites for almost every electronic event or club line up is Resident Advisor. They have a pretty good App which shows most of the club and festival line-ups in your immediate area.
What happens in Berghain?
Lots of techno music, dancing and partying. I personally didn’t witness any of the more extreme Berghain rumours. However, when I enter the larger rooms, I will be sure to update should things change.
Sven Marquart is the face of Berghain but there are quite a few bouncers on the door and entrance to the club. Inside I didn’t see any throughout the night/morning. They let patrons’ police themselves, but I am sure they will get involved if the need arises.
Why is Berghain so Famous?
Well for its insane lineups, sound system and secretive atmosphere. No Pictures or videos, strict bouncers, strange admittance requirements and a lot of real and fabricated stories.
What days is Berghain open?
Every day of the week but the most prominent days are from Friday to Monday. Check out the schedule Berghain schedule here.
Is Berghain worth it?
Definitely, if you enjoy Techno, want to experience the club scene in Berlin or simply want to try your hand at getting into the club then go.
But do not bank your whole night on getting into Berghain. Have a backup plan or alternative destination. There are plenty of clubs to go to in Berlin.
I and my friend went because I was visiting. It wouldn’t have been the worst thing if we didn’t get in.
If you are just visiting half of the fun is entering the club, after that, it can be a slightly surreal experience. The main thing is though it’s a club so just enjoy yourself.
If you enjoyed this check out my post on Amsterdam Dance Event.