Guide to Berghain: Third Time’s A Charm at Berlin’s Church of Techno

My club rating for Berghain: 8.5/10

There are many, many, many articles on the internet about the mythical Berghain Club in Berlin and how to get into the club with the toughest door policy in the world. Berlin is the Techno capital of the world, and Berghain is at its epicenter. It’s often referred to as THE church of techno. Thousands of techno-lovers and curious tourists descend upon Berlin for the sole reason of entering Berghain every weekend, and less than 50% make the cut after waiting in lines that often exceed two hours. It’s a club known both for its legendary, avant-garde sound, as well as its tolerance for debauchery.  

Over two trips to Berlin, of which my second trip was a one-month tenure in the city, I attempted twice, unsuccessfully, to enter Berghain. Amidst my frustration of being rejected, I have read dozens of posts and forums as well as spoken to many Berliners about how to enter Berghain. On my last day in Berlin, I finally cracked the Berghain code and successfully entered the Church, and without even waiting in line. I’ve never tried so hard to get into a club – how did I finally get in and was it worth it? You’ll have to read to find out!

Attempt #1 – FAIL

On very cold day in May (we are talking like 6C/42F), before our 6AM flight back to Barcelona from Berlin, my Spanish friend Ismael and I thought we’d try to go dance the night away at Berghain and go directly to the airport. It was a n00b move of us, as 1) Berghain is the type of place you stay for 10 hours, not two, and 2) We arrived shortly after midnight and ended up waiting 3 hours in line.

Let's see, when I went, the line was probably twice the length. Source: Famoushostels.com

Let’s see, when I went, the line was probably twice the length. Source: Famoushostels.com

When we first got in the line, we were so far away that we couldn’t even see the door. As we got closer and closer to the bouncer, Ismael started freaking out: “OMG, more than 50% of the people are getting told to leave!”

When we reached the final part of the line, entering the “zig zag” gates of Berghain, the locals started cutting from the left side, saving themselves about 2.5 hours of line up time (TIP #1: If you must go to Berghain between 12PM-4AM on Friday or Saturday, cut in line from the left of where the zig zagging gates begin). No one dared say anything, as it is known that if you don’t shut up in line when you are close to the bouncers, you won’t be getting in (TIP #2: Do not talk in line once you are within earshot of the bouncers. You waited all this time, you don’t want to f*ck it up, do you?)

By the time it was our turn, it was already 3AM. We had practiced saying in German, “Hello, two please.” My German pronunciation was terrible so Ismael was supposed to talk. When the bouncer said “Hallo” to us, we said “Hallo” back. Ismael froze up with his nerves so I said “zwei” weakly in my terrible German. The bouncer said “Sorry” and signaled us to the exit.

Attempt #2 – DOUBLE FAIL

Three weekends into my Berlin tenure, I’ve gathered enough intel and courage to try Berghain again. First of all, I learned that Berliners consider Friday night and Saturday night “tourist hours”, with crazy long lines. Real Berliners go on Sunday mornings, afternoons, or night (TIP #3: Go to Berghain on a Sunday to avoid long lines and [most] tourists). I was also told that clubs never say no to people who show up at a club alone, a theory that held true the previous Friday night at Tresor. I went to Tresor alone at around 2AM, waited about 40 minutes in line, watching 70% of people get rejected, and got into the club, feeling like the Chosen One (TIP #4: Never go to Berghain in a group of more than 2 people. You will get turned away for sure.)

Armed with this knowledge, I set an alarm on Sunday morning for 8AM. I slept at 1AM the night before, woke up, ate breakfast, drank some Club Mate (Berliner Red Bull) and wine, and called an Uber to go to Berghain. When I got there at 10AM, there was barely a line – only 3 or 4 groups of twos ahead of me, all male. All of them got turned away. When it was my turn in line, the bouncer looked at me, I said hello and one person please. He paused for half a second before saying “sorry.” I shuffled off the reject pathway (yes, it exists, to the right of the club) in total shock. What did I do wrong? I was alone! Was my cardigan too colorful? Did my Asian face look too young? Should I not have spoken first? Do they hate girls? (TIPS #5-7: Though I have seen multi color outfits in Berghain, 95% of the patrons wear black. Don’t risk it, just wear a neutral dark color. Secondly, Berghain is not a club for the young; they prefer patrons to be 25 and up. Thirdly, did I mention that Berghain is a gay club that is straight friendly? Being a girl, for once, does not help…)

Rejected outfit

Rejected outfit

I was pretty depressed by the rejection and walked home, dejected. I took a two-hour nap. My depression turned into frustration in the afternoon and I put on some different, black clothes determined to try again after my booked tourist visit to the Bundestag (Berlin Parliament). When I got there at about 8PM, though, there was already an estimated one-hour line at the door of black-donning people. To be honest, my confidence level was still pretty low after the morning’s failed attempt, and I was feeling like I don’t fit in, so I just gave up and went home, thinking that I will just try again next Sunday…

Took a blurry photo before heading home.

Took a blurry photo before heading home.

Attempt #3 – SUCCESS!!!

In the following week, I had an important conversation with a Berliner, Cocny, about Berghain, who gave me pointers that I took to heart. I believed her 100% because she was what you’d call a “punk” – and because of her look, she’s never had trouble getting into Berghain. I’m talking hair in three colors – blue, pink, and white, over her naturally blond hair. More than ten piercings everywhere on her face. Tattoos. Black clothes. And six layers of ripped, old tights. Cocny says that punk, edgy, alternative looking people are what Berghain likes. She said that I looked too nice, suggesting that I rip up my tights, put some fake piercings on my face, and mess up my hair (TIP #8: LOOK ALTERNATIVE, EDGY, AND PUNKY!). She also said that I shouldn’t go at 10AM in the morning on Sunday, because the club was likely to be full so they couldn’t let in many people even if they wanted to (TIP #9: OK, go Sunday afternoon, not in the morning).

Come Sunday – it was my last day in Berlin, and I HAD to get into Berghain. It was my absolute last chance. I put on a black, alternative/cool tank top, paired with dark red booty shorts, sheer black tights that I was sure to rip up a bit, and black sneakers. I nervously strolled over the Berghain from my home in Kreuzberg. I arrived at around 3-4PM, and again there was no line, just one couple ahead of me, who got in. I stepped up at my turn, my heart pounding. The bouncer ignored me for awhile (ok, it probably was only half a minute, but it felt like a century with my heart pounding and my vision going blurry). I had read on the internet that you’re not supposed to stare at the bouncer, but to look cool and look like you don’t care if you go in – exactly what I did, diverting my gaze from the bouncer or the door, staring off to space (TIP #10: Don’t stare at the bouncer when it’s your turn, don’t talk to him before he talks to you, try to look like you’re too cool to care).

Finally, the bouncer looked at me and asked me something in German. I raised my eyebrows, looking confused but “cool.” He repeated in English, “How old are you?” I said coolly (without trembling! I don’t know how I managed), “Twenty-six” (Bouncers always ask me for my age in Berlin, I guess I look pretty young…). The bouncer said “OK” and signaled me in. I couldn’t believe it, I WAS CHOSEN!!! I said “Danke” and walked in, coolly of course. But in my mind I was going OMGOMGOMGZOMG!!!

How I felt.. Wonderful illustration made by @UnicornsinBerlin on Instagram

Exactly how I felt.. Wonderful illustration made by @UnicornsinBerlin on Instagram

No photos allowed in the club, and I was even afraid to take my phone out, so my first stop was to go hide in the bathroom and gloat on Facebook about being chosen… xD

Berghain winning outfit (with shoes of course)

Berghain winning outfit (with shoes of course)

Whew! All this writing, and I haven’t even talked about what it’s like inside Berghain yet. Let me just summarize all that I’ve learned for you.

Bergain Entry Tips

Best Time to Go:  Sunday afternoon, I’d say between 1PM to 6PM to maximize your chance of entry. No lines at this time. It was also suggested in the comments that 8AM is also a good time as this is when people start to leave from the previous night so the club is relatively “empty”. Don’t go Friday or Saturday night, it’s for tourists and you’ll be waiting for than 2 hours.

Friday or Saturday night: If you must go at this time, cut the line from the left side, where the zig zag gates begin. People will be too scared to protest.

To cut the line, slide in from the left side. If you are rejected, slink off in the alleyway to the right. Source: youropi.com

To cut the line, slide in from the left side. If you are rejected, slink off in the alleyway to the right. Source: youropi.com

What to wear: Wear dark, muted colors. Think casual alternative punk. Leather and ripped jeans/tights welcomed. Facial piercings and tattoos optimal. Berghain is for older patrons ages 25+, so don’t look too “young”. Come dressed to dance. Ladies, don’t wear heels. Gentlemen, don’t wear dress shirts and dress shoes. Keep in mind, they’re looking for people who will fit in with the vibe of the place, who can dance all night, and who won’t be frazzled by the sight of naked people in various “indecent” acts. Also, being a boy helps as Berghain is a gay club.

When in line: Don’t go in groups of more than two. Don’t talk in line when you’re getting close. Let the bouncer talk to you first and look as IDGAFOS as possible. Some people say to act German and speak German, but come on, the bouncers know you’re not German, and Berghain is actually probably about 50% foreigners.

What to bring: Pack a fan, it gets hot inside.


So, what was it like inside? Well, I have to say my expectations were built up really high over the past couple tries, so I was slightly disappointed at first; it was smaller than I imagined and seemed like another warehouse club. However, Berghain really is best appreciated over time and I left impressed by the sound and the Berlin liberalism. No photos in this post, as photos are strictly forbidden.

Berghain has three main music areas – Berghain, Panorama Bar, and the Garden.

Berghain is the main dance floor, on the second floor of the club, with ginormous Funkton One speakers, the best in the world. It’s also where you see some weird things go on. I saw a couple girls dancing topless, wearing only panties and sneakers. I saw 3 hot, fit, tall blond guys, with two of them making out while the other fondled one of them (his boyfriend?) from the back. There were also plenty of girls wearing black X pasties and panties. I keep thinking this is the one rave in Europe that has rave fashion most similar to the US!!

The music was hard, dark, industrial-sounding techno, which got progressively more intense as the night went on. I actually preferred the club in the afternoon, as people were more chilled out and it was less crowded. At around midnight, it became hard to find a spot to dance.

Berghain floorplan. Source: lmgmblog.wordpress.com (I drew the arrows)

Berghain floorplan. Source: lmgmblog.wordpress.com (I drew the arrows)

Panorama Bar is on the third floor. The sound on Panorama is more minimal techno. It’s quite a small dance floor, and during the day it is bright as light pours in from the windows. At night it was super packed but the vibe was good. I personally prefer the sounds of Berghain to Panorama.

Found this hilarious diagram of the clientelle of Panorama. Source: www.klonblog.com

Found this hilarious diagram of the clientele of Panorama. I was in the young, gay, and hip area… Source: http://www.klonblog.com

Garden: the chillout area on the first floor, with its own DJ and bar, playing chillout minimal techno. There was plenty of seating on the grass and along the walls. There were also three cool metallic silos that you can sit inside or climb ontop of. In the afternoon, people were just chilling, napping, or taking a break there. I climbed up a silo and drank my cranberry vodka, while people watching. I think the garden closes at around midnight.

Weird things around the club: A bar whose bar was made out of transparent cases, with fake “dead/fleshy people” inside. Yeah, it is weird. On the first floor, there is a dark room and I swear I saw a naked guy with full frontal lying in one of the couches. There was a swinging platform and swinging chair in Berghain.

If you’re hungry: There is an ice cream and smoothie bar, with heavenly ice cream (I had strawberry and yogurt), and cost only 90 cents. It’s kind of hidden in the club, up the stairs by the swinging platforms.

People: People were chilled out, international, and friendly. Guys willing to buy you drinks but maybe also are more forward and touchy once you talk to them, because it’s Berghain and people hook up all the time.

Drugs: Let’s face it, in a marathon club where most people stay 10+ hours, drug usage is rampant. They say that the official dealer can be found around the bathrooms.

I left the club shortly after 1AM and walked home. I was pretty happy with my Berghain experience. Even though I wouldn’t say it’s the best club in the world, I would say it’s the most eccentric and liberal club I’ve ever been to. The sound system was no joke, and I looooved the hard techno. Getting to Berghain was an interesting journey that ended in success. I’ll definitely (try to) go back on my next visit to Berlin.

Berghain Facts

Hours: Two parties over the weekend – Friday nights until Saturday morning. Then, a different party Saturday nights until Monday morning.

Berghain/Panorama bar: Berghain is not open on Friday night, only Panorama. So Friday is easier to get in. The big party is Saturday night to Monday morning, in which both Berghain and Panorama are open.

Price: Usually 15 euros.

Stamps and re-entry: Once you enter and get a Berghain stamp, you are free to enter and exit as many times as you’d like for the same party. For example, if you go Saturday night, you can go home and take a disco nap in the morning, then eat some brunch and roll back into the club in the afternoon. You don’t have to wait in line to re-exit, just go in through the guestlist line on the right of the door.

Guestlist? Yes they exist – try to befriend some cool Berliners during your time in Berlin and maybe they can help you out.

Club Policy: No photos allowed. You will get a sticker placed over your phone camera when you enter. If you get caught sneaking a photo, you will be kicked out and banned from the establishment. Berghain wishes to protect the privacy of its patrons plus they want their patrons to focus on the party environment instead of posting on Instagram!

My Berghain Stamp

My Berghain Stamp

Need to Know: Berghain is a gay club that is straight friendly. If you are homophobic, you don’t belong here.

Event scheduleResident Advisor.

Cost of drinks & ice cream: 2.5 euros for a shot. 6 euros for a Mate + Vodka. 90 cents for a scoop of ice cream (definitely get this!!)

How to get there: Locals bike there and chain their bicycles on the fence. Biking to a club is soo Berlin! The rest of us take the Bahn to Osbahnhof or Wahrschauer Straße.

Good night Berghain!

Good night Berghain!

If you don’t get into Berghain, or think that following this 2,500-word article just to get into a club is too much of a hassle (totally fair), I also have an article on my favorite clubs in Berlin!

Also check out the Party with a Local app to find Berlin locals to party with & get the best tips of where to go in this city where the nightlife is ever changing!

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Guide to Berghain: Third Time’s A Charm at Berlin’s Church of Techno

  1. Pingback: Ipse Club Berlin Review for the BNR 10YR Party | Travel à la Tendelle

  2. Pingback: 14 Unusual Reasons To Love Berlin | Travel à la Tendelle

  3. Pingback: Techno Tourism in Berlin | Travel à la Tendelle

  4. Julius

    your 2,500 article is very helpful and witty! planning to go there soon and by the way, I’m asian too, my dilemma in exploring places like this. all the best!

    Reply
  5. David

    Nice. I have been to Berlin plenty of times but never been there. I am quite alternative looking with a few piercings and mostly wear black. I am gonna try to get in on my first go.

    Really enjoyable and fun piece!

    Reply
  6. Pingback: NYC Nightlife Guide - The Hungry Partier

  7. blackmaxime

    Hi, 🙂 I wanted to say you made a little mistake – Friday night & Saturday night are total differents nights, With Friday party stamp you cannot access the Saturday, Sunday & Monday Party – For sure. Friday only the upper floor (Panorama Bar) is open, and it’s manly tourist, and easier to get in. Saturday, are the “Big” night, and 8am on Sunday is the best time to get in as well, because “normal” tourist who got in during the night are likely finishing their night between 6 & 8, so the club is quite “empty”. And if you’re a boy it’s easier to get in.

    Reply
    1. tendelle Post author

      Hello! Wow I actually had no idea that Fridays is only Panorama Bar and didn’t know about the stamp. Thanks for letting me know, I’ll change it in the article!

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Detroit – the underrated techno destination | Travel à la Tendelle

  9. Pingback: NYC Nightlife Guide - Hungry Partier

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s