While big name festivals and clubbing brands grow in popularity, clubs like Berghain have made their name by shunning the glitz and letting the music speak. If Berlin is the techno capital of the world, then Berghain is most definitely its White House, and it’s just as difficult to get inside.
The building itself is quite imposing, located in a closed power plant near the Ostbahnhof railway station. With its stark, brutalist architecture looming ahead, visitors queue up on a dirt path lined with chain fences, perfectly encapsulating the club’s commitment to music over glamour. Flashes of colors, lasers and strobe lights shine through the windows as muffled kick drums boom in the background, building up anticipation for Berlin clubbers.
Berghain is notorious for its strict, yet inexplicable door policy. Waiting in line for three hours is not a guarantee to get in, as visitors will eventually have to get past the club’s infamous doormen, led by head bouncer Sven Marquardt. This face-tattooed beast of a man was once a young photographer in Soviet-controlled East Berlin before becoming the most famous bouncer in the world. If you’re planning on going to Berghain, this is the guy who is probably going to stop you. Despite its stripped-down design and minimialist vibe, Berghain is more exclusive than the priciest clubs in Vegas. Many a club-goer, even dance music pioneers, has walked up to the door, had Marquardt look at him up and down to then be turned away with a simple shake of the head.
Much has been speculated about what it is they’re looking for. Some say to wear a white t-shirt with dark jeans, others say leather gear is a guaranteed admission. Many tell you not to look Sven in the eye, but the common theme to all the advice is you need to look cool, like you belong there. Talking loudly in line, acting nervous or looking like a tourist will make you look out of place and result in a rejection. While such a strict door policy might seem elitist, it might be for your own good. Berghain is known for its no-holds-barred debauchery and its commitment to supporting the techno scene.
To learn more about Berghain, visit their website at berghain.de.
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