Visiting Berghain on a Sunday afternoon was a whole different experience in itself. Some people visit Berlin just for this club.
Berghain is internationally known as a home to techno music. Considering my love for this genre and the fact that I DJ techno, this has always been a personal motive for me to want to visit the club. Berghain is also a very liberal gay club that welcomes heterosexual people too.
It is an old power plant that was owned by Swedish energy giant Vattenfall. The plant had been cleared out of turbines, generators and other technical equipment and was up for grabs. On October 15th 2004 is when the dance floor here was first filled. Read more about the history of this club & the scene here.
For years I have heard and read stories about how anything goes once inside, from drugs & bondage attire to sex, and how it is hard to gain entry. I can confirm this is all true. I had heard how Sven, the head doorman and his team have a very strict policy about who they let in. I can confirm this is true too.
(Disclaimer: I went for two hours, stayed fully dressed and had two beers. Ha ha!!)
I watched a number of people be turned away, despite them looking what I thought to be “typical Berghain”. Whilst the strict door policy hasn’t been explicitly shared, many have speculated that:
-if you look like you’re pretending to be something you’re not you won’t get in
-if you look too excited you will be rejected
-if you look like you are coming in to judge the crowd you won’t get in
-you cannot take photos before going in or whilst inside of the club
-it will definitely take more than one attempt to get into the club
-you should only wear black
-if you are English it is harder to get in
A mysterious place to say the least.
To my surprise I totally defied the odds by being English and wearing bright pink checkered skirt. Did I feel cool? Fucking yes. Did I get lucky? I don’t know.
Walking into the bar at the entrance felt like walking into the scene of a horror movie – the club is in an old warehouse with very high ceilings and big square windows which were mainly covered up. Some were totally covered up, or others only letting tiny glints of natural light through. This made it all the more eery, but exciting at the same time.
You could hear and feel the pulsating hardcore techno music from the main room, which at times sounded like a plane descending quickly to its doom. It almost felt and sounded like a war hideout where people couldn’t leave and were becoming malnourished for lack of supplies. But the party goers clearly had plenty of supplies to keep them going for a 3-4 day bender … it was the norm.
Whichever room, hallway or staircase you visit in Berghain, you will notice bodies hunched in the shadows either on their own or intertwined with somebody else. They were having a rest… I suppose?
The main room was huge and full with people dancing or just moving erratically to the beat. Don’t forget this is 1pm on a Sunday afternoon. People were either in their underwear, dressed in bondage, or practically naked. There were a few men in full blown gimp suits too. Wearing my black high neck body suit with a pink checkered skirt & tights felt way over dressed, but nobody batted an eyelid.
To the left of the dance floor was a very subtle doorway. Again totally blacked out and you could only just see it through the darkness and the smog from the smoke machine. Being totally intrigued I decided to look in. I saw under the spotlight two men … this was definitely heading to second, third, fourth … EVERY level of base. I very quickly moved away. Yes, this was the “dark room” that I had been told is X rated and mainly for men.
Aside from the general vibe and the crowd, Berghain has a number of bars with drinks available that you would find in any other club. There is also an ice cream parlour… to freshen up the party goers pallet. There are more dark rooms and many other rooms or spaces where people can “take a moment”.
A piece of advice if you go… do NOT, I repeat, do NOT sit on the toilet seats. Hygiene is definitely not a priority here.