In a realm a far cry from Temple Bar in Dublin, lies Berghain in Berlin, Germany. Berghain is a nightclub in a league of its own. The club is regarded as one of the world’s leading nightclubs and is best known for its music.
Berlin is ranked third in the world for its music production after Japan and the US so it is unsurprising that Berghain has a sound system worth over €1 million in its main room.
Berghain opens its huge steel doors at 12.10am every Friday night and closes at around 11am Saturday morning. It then reopens at 12.10am Saturday night and remains open until approximately 10am Monday morning when the DJ decides to wrap the party up.
One of the most unusual things about Berghain is the highly selective and randomised door policy. The bouncers each have a type of pseudonym, from tattooed and pierced faces to the tallest men you could imagine. Upon travelling to Berlin for the Berghain experience earlier this month, I found the queue most intimidating. Four sullen men analysed my character to the maximum. Fortunately, they approved my random attire and granted me entrance to the club on both Friday and Saturday night.
Bizarrely, once you pass the scary men at the door, there is no security or staff in the club other than the people behind the bar. An ‘anything goes’ attitude is driven by everyone inside and surprisingly it works to the clubs’ advantage as everyone appears to be respectful of each other.
The entire club boasts an industrialised interior comprised of steel and concrete; it appears minimalist but fits the setting perfectly. The main room is home to the unique and powerful sound system, which accentuates every beat to the extent that you can feel the bass-line run through your body, as well as the ringing in your ears that lingers for days. One of the unique aspects of the club is the array of seating areas to take a break from dancing.
Smoking is one of the things not prohibited in Berghain as people light up in all areas of the club, which is handy for smokers but takes its toll on your eyes hours later.
The club has no mirrors or reflective surfaces so people cannot see what they look like while they’re in there. One is led to believe that, if there were mirrors, people would be shocked at their appearance on a Sunday morning and go home. Instead they party on, unknowingly shocking in appearance. Cameras are also strictly prohibited inside the club but some have managed to take sneaky photos and post them online.
During my visit, I spoke to Australians, Americans, French and English travellers who each expressed their amazement in terms of the club and the music, with many saying “we’re all just thankful to be here”. Connor, a young Cambridge student described the Berghain as “a liberating place” but said that he “could not go there every week”.
The clubs owners announced earlier this year that they may be forced to shut down after New Years Eve 2012 due to huge fee increase demands for its extended opening times from GEMA, a German copyright organisation. Yet, Berghain is an iconic nightclub, one that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime, possibly before New Years Eve.