If you were to ask a techno fan which club they consider to be the most iconic in the techno scene, the answer will surely be Berghain. While famous for its incredibly curated Klubnacht lineups and Saturday night to Monday afternoon hedonism, the club is perhaps best known for its strict door policy. Hundreds of would-be party goers are turned away at the door every weekend. Besides a shake of the head and an unemotional “nein” or “not tonight” uttered by one of the club’s surly doormen, no reason is ever offered for rejection.
This guide, created by a Berghain regular, gives you all the information you need to make it through the door to techno’s mecca.
Do have a passion for techno
Many regulars believe that the Berghain doorman have a sixth sense that detects whether you’re lining up to party at Berghain at a tourist attraction or as a lover of techno. This isn’t too hard to believe, as they have lots of practice every weekend identifying foreign tourists who have no clue about what’s happening inside. After all, Berghain now features in nearly all tourist guides to Berlin. If you’re on this website, you probably already have this box ticked! If you want to go even further, spend some time learning about the history of Berghain, and its predecessor, Ostgut. Both clubs have been central to not only Berlin’s techno scene, but also the city’s gay scene.
Don’t go at peak time
There’s nothing worse than lining up for hours only to be rejected at the door. Lessen the time you need to spend waiting in a long queue and increase your chances of being let in by avoiding peak time. Many locals consider Saturday night to be tourist night. Do what they do and head to Berghain early on Sunday morning. A good sleep and healthy breakfast will fill you with energy to spend Sunday through Monday on the dancefloor. And trust me, you haven’t experienced the club properly until you’ve experienced the energy of the Berghain dancefloor on a Sunday afternoon.
Don’t dress for a night out in Las Vegas
If you google “how to get into Berghain”, the first tip is almost always “dress in black”. While black is definitely the most popular colour inside the club, and stilettos or dresses will definitely end in rejection, Berghain fashion is a little more complex than that. A pair of black skinny jeans and a black t-shirt from H&M isn’t going to do much to convince the doorman that you’re a cool local Berliner who deserves to be let in.
Be a little more creative. Fashion inside the club is eclectic and adventurous. Gothic fashion and leather harnesses are a common sight, along with retro sportswear. Think old-school Nike, Reebok, and Adidas Originals. Put on a pair of comfy sneakers and try to express yourself through Berlin street fashion.
Backpacks are also a common sight in the club. It’s a good idea to pack a few small snacks, and maybe a change of clothes if you’re planning on dancing for hour upon hour. A backpack also shows the doorman that you’ve come prepared for a techno marathon. You can check your bag and jacket into the cloakroom once you’re inside the club.
Do go in a small group, or by yourself
Berghain isn’t interested in having large crowd or friends causing trouble on the dance floor. Don’t go to Berghain with the group of lads you met at the bar down the street. If you’re in Berlin for a Bucks party, definitely don’t think about it. There’s a roughly 0% chance you will get in.
Instead, go in a small group no bigger than two or three. Many people swear by lining up solo. If you can, your best bet is to go with a German friend. If you know a Berghain regular, even better.
Don’t talk too much in line, do try to look bored and uninterested
Chatting, laughing, and taking photos in line is a great way to be immediately rejected. It’s ok towards the back of the queue, but make sure to put your game face on as you get towards the front of the line. Many regulars agree that the doorman has already decided whether or not you will get in long before you’re face-to-face at the front of the queue. Remember that as soon as you can see the doorman, he can also see you. Keep conversation to a minimum at that point. Don’t smile too much or make eye contact with the doorman. Move your head slightly to the beat of the music radiating from the building, and try to look a little bit bored, as if you don’t care whether or not you get in.
Do learn basic German
Once you get to the front of the line, the doorman might ask you a couple of questions. If you’re not with a German-speaker, it’s a good idea to learn some basic German. The most likely question will be on how many people are in your group. Responding appropriately with “eine”, “drei”, or “zvei” is much better than sounding like a dumb tourist and asking “I’m sorry, do you speak English? What are you asking?”
Do have a Plan B
Everyone gets rejected from Berghain sometimes, even regulars. So before you head to Berghain, make a Plan B just in case you are turned away at the door. If you are rejected, don’t let it ruin your night. Berghain might be Berlin’s most famous techno club, but many locals will tell you that the best parties can be found elsewhere. Take rejection as an opportunity to visit one of the cities other techno institutions.