Berlin has been a capital for techno music since the 1980s, and the culture strengthened even more with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991. Berghain, one of the most notoriously exclusive nightclubs in the world, opened its doors in 2004 in commemoration of Ostgut club, which operated from 1998-2003.
From accounts of those who were lucky enough to be granted entry, Berghain is another world: exceptional sound systems blasting resonating bass and tantalizing lights shining over a sea of seasoned partygoers. The club often runs for more than 24 hours at a time.
Rolling Stone explains, anything goes on in Berghain - from a 2004 Rolling Stone culture news report: “you’re less likely to see a celebrity than you are two people fucking at the bar.” The large warehouse has several never-ending corridors, perfect for exploring and also for taking a break from the blissful chaos on the dance floor.
The entrance to Berghain is guarded by Sven, a heavily tattooed and frightening German photographer. There seems to be no solid algorithm to who gets in and who gets the boot. Waiting three or more hours in line only to be rejected is a shared experience or most who try to enter the club. Legend has it that Sven and the other bouncers can sense a person who falsely represents themself to the world, who is trying too hard to be a part of the Berghain crowd. Even still, rejection sucks. A recommendation: always have a backup plan when heading to Berghain.
For those who want to check if they have what it takes to make it in before trying their hand at entry, there is a website called Berghaintrainer.com. The website will cryptically ask for access to your computer’s microphone and camera so it can read body language and analyze vocal response to a variety of questions, asking about, where you’re from, if you know the DJ playing tonight, and the daunting “why should I let you in?”. Other sites and companies offer styling service, guaranteeing an outfit worthy of entry, but the bouncers code remains uncracked. You should not be advised to purchase expensive flashy clothing in efforts to impress Sven - he’ll see right through you.
Despite its legacy, the future of Berghain is uncertain. The techno movement is changing, becoming more commercialized and sensationalized, distancing itself from the underground counter-cultural values that it started with. As long as Berghain keeps the posers out and maintains their superior booking quality, the club is sure to host the world’s truest techno fans for years still.
View on Map
Berghain, one of Europe's most exclusive nightclubs
Berghain | Panorama Bar | Säule, Am Wriezener Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany