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. People call it 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. Berghain is famous for both for its legendary, avant-garde sound, as well as its tolerance for debauchery. I put together this Berghain Guide based on my own experience to help you get in and survive your Berghain experience.
Over two trips to Berlin, one of which was a one-month tenure in the city, I attempted twice, unsuccessfully, to enter Berghain. Amidst my frustration of rejection, I have read dozens of posts and forums as well as spoken to many Berliners about how to get into 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 on 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.
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” metalic gates of Berghain, the locals started cutting in 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’s common knowledge 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 to 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 heard 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. Getting in after witnessing the tough line made me feel 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…)
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…
Attempt #3 – SUCCESS!!!
In the following week, I had an important conversation with a Berliner, Cocny, about Berghain, while on a Blabla car to Airbeat One Festival. Cocny 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).
The following Sunday 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. Nervously, I 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. And that was 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 and trying hard not refrain from doing my happy dance. But in my mind I was going OMGOMGOMGZOMG!!!
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
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.
How To Get Into Berghain
1) Best time to go to Berghain: late Sunday morning or early afternoon
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.
2) What to wear to Berghain: dark colors with an alternative look
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.
3) How to behave: act cool
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.
4) What to bring: pack for the weekend
Pack a fan, it gets hot inside. There is a coatcheck so feel free to bring supplies necessary to survive 12+ hours in Berghain.
5) Finally, retry, retry, retry!
If you’re denied entry the first time, there’s no reason you can’t try again in a couple hours. So go to another Berlin techno club, hit up another bar, change your outfit, take a disco nap, whatever – and come back multiple times over the weekend.
If you want to make your whole trip revolve around Berghain (no shame in that), choose a hotel closeby within 10 minutes walking, like Upstalsboom Hotel (hotel with a rooftop & spa), Michelberger Hotel (hotel with modern, hip decor), Hotel & Hostel Friedrichshain (budget).
What was Berghain like?
So, what was it like inside? Well, I have to say that given my very high expectations (inflated with every rejection), so I felt slightly disappointed at first. Berghain was smaller than I imagined and seemed initially like another warehouse club. However, Berghain my appreciation for Berghain grew over the course of the evening and I left impressed by the sound and the Berlin liberalism. No photos in this post, as the club strictly prohibits photos.
Music & Rooms in Berghain
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 the vibes are more chill and it was less crowded. At around midnight, it became hard to find a spot to dance.
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.
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 stuff around the club
A bar 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.
I scream for ice scream
In need of a snack? Find the ice cream and smoothie bar. They have heavenly ice cream (I had strawberry and yogurt) that costs only 90 cents. It’s kind of hidden in the club, up the stairs by the swinging platforms.
People were chill, 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, people are on drugs, and hook up all the time. I have an amusing story about a Catalan guy I met in Berghain.
Let’s face it, in a marathon club where most people stay 10+ hours, drug usage is rampant. They say that the official dealer usually hangs out 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 (my picks – Fabric & Warung Beach Club), 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 – Practical Information
Two parties over the weekend – Friday nights until Saturday morning. Then, a different party Saturday nights until Monday morning.
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.
Usually 15 euros (info as of 2015).
How to Get There
Berghain is at Am Wriezener Bahnhof in the Friedrichshain neighborhood.
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.
Or you can just stay at a hotel close to the club. Any accommodation within the Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg neighborhood will be in walking distance to Berghain (<30min).
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.
Yes they exist – try to befriend some cool Berliners during your time in Berlin and maybe they can help you out.
No photos allowed. The security places a sticker over your phone camera when you enter. If they catch you sneaking a photo, they will kick you out and ban you 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!
Need to Know
Berghain is a gay club that is straight friendly. If you are homophobic, you don’t belong here.
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!!)
If you don’t get into Berghain, or think that following this 3,000-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!
I’ve been to a lot of parties, check out my reviews of other clubs around the world.