Berghain has the largest mystic and intrigue of all the Berlin clubs by far. The secretive club has been around since 2004 and has kept its aura thanks to the stringent door policy marshalled by the infamous Sven Marquardt.
But how has a techno club become almost as famous for turning away patrons as it is for the hedonistic spirit that it personifies?
In short, it is so difficult to get into Berghain because it is more about a feeling than a set of criteria that you need to check off. In the words of Marquardt:
‘We also take guys in masks and kilts or Pamela Anderson blondes in run-of-the-mill high-street outfits who tag along with bearded blokes, licking the sweat off each others’ armpits. That, for me, is Berghain.’
Granted, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances to enter the hallowed techno cavern. But it will ultimately come down to the vibe you exude when you reach the front of the queue.
And unfortunately, that is only something that the door will determine on any given night. So, for now, let’s look into some ways you can boost your chances.
Don’t get too drunk
Berghain has become an exclusive club. It is not in the VIP and sparklers in bottles exclusive way, but rather in how everyone inside Berghain understands the culture and what makes it unique.
You won’t see loud drunk tourists inside falling and stumbling all over the place. Instead, they get turned away at the door without fail. Then, to rub salt into the rejection wound, the bouncers will let ‘lads on tour’ stand in the queue for hours in the dead of winter. Then politely shake their head without saying a word in German.
Zip it up in the queue
No, not that zip it up! That you can do once you’re inside (there is plenty that goes on). Zipping it up in the queue means don’t be a chatterbox. That’s not to say you can’t talk to people because you’ll likely be standing in front/behind them for a couple of hours.
However, don’t be overly eager and try to spark deep, meaningful conversations with absolutely everyone in your general vicinity. The queue to Berghain has plenty of dark colors, both literally and figuratively. Not all Friday club-goers want to hear about how this is your first time trying to get in.
Disperse into smaller groups
The chances of getting into Berghain as a large group are slim at best. A flock of 7 friends screams tourist to the bouncers. Instead split into small groups and attempt your Sunday morning entry in two’s or three’s. Sure there is a chance that some may get in and others don’t. But is that not a better strike rate than all of you getting rejected?
You don’t have to be wearing black
Some myths about dressing to pass the strict door policy include:
- Wear black eyeliner
- Get dressed in all black
Remember that the most crucial factor for getting into Berghain is the bouncer’s feeling when you get to the front of the queue. It doesn’t matter if you have a similar look to everyone else. Just bring a unique style and look like you are there to participate. Not gawk and judge what happens inside.
I got in wearing green pants, a green sports jacket and trainers. Apparently, no black leather or Doc Maartens needed.
Heed the no photos rule
Most people have heard of the no filming or photos rule once inside the doors of Berghain. But excessively using your phone outside when in the line is probably hurting your chances of getting in. Berghain is a place where you disconnect from the world and get lost in electronic music.
Know some techno club culture
It’s not a Taylor Swift concert. So knowing which DJs are playing at Panorama Bar or the main room is recommended if the bouncer asks ‘Wen willst du heute Abend sehen’? If you get asked this, take a deep breath. You don’t have to speak German, but knowing when Marcell Dettmann is playing is a sign you are there to take part and not just observe.
What is so special about Berghain?
Techno clubs in Berlin have a rich cultural history. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, techno music first made use of the scores of abandoned buildings scattered all over East Berlin.
Berghain is special because of what it represents. A place to encourage the hedonistic spirit for all orientations without fear of being judged.
The city of Berlin has many techno clubs set in exciting locations. But Berghain arguably has the most impressive. The former power station that now houses Berghain has no neighbours and stands alone, tall, ominous, and commanding respect.
The party can run all weekend, and anything goes. Once you are through the doors, it is whatever you want it to be. There are very few nightclubs in the world that allow club-goers to get genuinely swept up in the moment.
Can tourists get into Berghain?
The Berghain bouncers will allow anyone through the doors that they feel match the flow of the night. And tourists that are visiting Berlin are no different. So yes, tourists can get into Berghain!
While you don’t need to speak German fluently, it won’t hurt to know how to answer the bouncer in German when he asks ‘Wie viele’? Don’t make a mistake many tourists make and answer that by saying ‘two, please’.
Why is Berghain so famous?
From the door policy to the gay fetish club nights, there are plenty of reasons that make Berghain the most well-known of all the techno clubs in Berlin.
But the biggest reason that makes it the temple of techno in Berlin is exclusivity. Everyone from A-list Holywood celebrities to regulars who try every weekend get turned away on nothing more than a feeling.
Berghain never has and never will be a place for observation and judging. The ethos started in the early 90s has carried through and never wavered from its aim. Berghain has now become famous for trying not to be celebrated. Some would call that ironic. However, if you asked the Berghain ownership what they thought of that irony, they wouldn’t be bothered to justify an answer.
Can You Go to Berghain alone?
Absolutely yes. Going to Berghain alone is a widespread thing to do. In fact, in Berlin in general, clubbing is common as a one-person show.
The nightlife culture revolves around listening to music. As such, there are plenty of others attending clubs by themselves to listen to up-and-coming talent in the city.
However, it is less likely that you would be able to push through a 24 hour Berghain party if you are alone. So having a fellow raver or group will go a long way to making it past midnight on Sunday when your flight home is only in a few hours. For better or worse.
No pictures. No Filming. Insanely long queues outside in the middle of a Berlin winter. These are all factors that make Berghain worth the experience.
Berghain is hard to get into. Period. No app or website will prepare you enough to ensure that you enter the party.
Ultimately, the feeling inside as the night progresses makes it so hard. The emotion of Saturday nights is different to Sunday afternoons. And as a result, the bouncer adjusts the door policy to keep the venue going.
Sure there are a few things you can do to boost your chances:
- Don’t get too drunk
- Zip it up in the queue
- Disperse into smaller groups
- You don’t have to be wearing black
- Heed the no photos rule
- Know some techno club culture
However, these are only guidelines. Berghain is a club that is looking for participation. And this is essential.