Heavy clouds filled the sky as we walked over the jagged remains of the Berlin wall. It was 4 degrees Celsius on my first Friday night in Berlin and I had on every layer of clothes that I could comfortably muster up some movement in. Three pairs of black leggings, one pair of jeans, 4 pairs of socks – two short, two knee high – one long sleeve black shirt, two fuzzy Christmas sweaters, a bright red full length coat and a fox Spirit Hood.
“You are definitely not getting inside dressed like that,” my travel buddy Brandon retorted.
“Watch me.” I snapped back confidently.
That confidence quickly deflated as we turned the corner and faced the building. There it was. Berghain.
Are you sure we are in the right place? I wanted to ask, but I could clearly hear the bass intensely reverberating from the building. Berlin is hailed as the techno capital of the world, and this is it’s holy sanctuary. Berghain is a massive abandoned power plant settled between East Berlin and West Berlin. The name Berghain comes from Kreuzberg (former West Berlin) and Friedrichshain (former East Berlin). At first glance, this building is a far cry from the usual glitz and glamour of the nightlife in Ibiza where I usually party.
As an avid traveler and music enthusiast, most of my travels are directly intertwined with the fast paced underground music scene in Europe. The first event that drew me from the cozy beaches of my previous hometown Los Angeles, California, to the freezing weather of Germany was Groove’s concert in Berlin’s world renowned nightclub called Berghain. Groove is a electronic music magazine known for surprising music lovers with amazing last minute pop up festivals and parties. The line up may read like a list of random names to some, but to all of us in line, it read like a Christmas list come true.
Even more daunting than the building itself, was the difficult task of getting in. Almost as famous as the club itself is the door host, or in this case Gatekeeper, Sven. With a barbed wire tattoo covering half of his face, and most of his uncovered leg, he is quite intimidating. Never trust a man wearing shorts in sub zero weather. Sven is known for his strict selection process. Basically, he takes one look at you and decides in a split second if you will mesh well with the debauchery going on inside.
After waiting in line for 30 minutes and watching as almost everyone was turned down, we were finally at the front. I fidgeted with my faux fur scarf, tying it around my waist, wrapping it around my arm, then bringing it back around my neck. I wondered if I looked cool and edgy, or like a try-hard tourist. Only time would tell.
I stood in front of him assuredly, faux fur back around my neck, with an anxious look on my face. I flew 6000 miles just for this club, please let me in Sven!
Sven took one look at us and nodded his head.
Yes!! We were inside!
First stop was the coat-check, where I peeled off my first 3 layers of clothing as everyone stared in disbelief.
I picked up two ear plugs on the way and headed inside. I split up with Brandon, because I love experiencing new things on my own. Second stop was the main room, to see Miss Kittin play live. I walked past two totally pitch black rooms, and curiosity got to me. I made a quick about face and stepped into the second room. Abort mission!! For the sake of my eyes and sanity, I made an early decision to mind my own business and focus on the music only.
Miss Kittin did not disappoint. She played a 6 hour set full of bass shaking beats. After her was a laundry list of incredible DJs like Art Department, Damian Lazarus and Infinity Ink, who relentlessly kept the vibe going. Berghain is reminiscent to the early acid-house days where the parties never stopped. The club hours are from midnight Friday to whenever you crawl out Monday morning.
Sometime between 6 and 7pm Sunday night I was all out of energy and ready to leave. I walked past the bathrooms and saw my friend Brandon sleeping on a swing. I nudged him awake, thanked him for such a wonderful experience.
There is a famous graffiti piece outside of Berghain that speaks directly to the party goers after 72 hours in The Twilight Zone: “Dont forget to go home!!”
This story was curated by Jelisa Mone.