A whirlwind of clubs and parties, clubs and ravers, concrete and wood. We have all either experienced or heard of the famous clubs in this city. Berghain, rumoured to have the strictest door policy in the world. The bouncer even got so famous for sending people away that he grew into a well-known book author and photographer, showcasing his art in galleries all over the world. Or Watergate, another one of the top 10 clubs to visit listed in the Easyjet travel brochure you find in the pockets in front of your seat on the 24€ flight to Berlin.
Legendary Katerblau, which started with a cooler box as a bar, some turntables and a portable sound system as the legendary Bar25. The club later shifted location and name, making it to one of the must-see places in the era of 2011 before shutting down after a few years and moving back to the original location. Now known as Katerblau, it has grown into an institution in the Berlin nightlife, drawing ravers to its doors like moths to the light. Again you might find yourself in hour-long queues waiting to get in, to let yourself merge with music for the next two, five, twelve or twenty-something hours.
And then you have the hidden gems. These clubs are run by crews that live the music. They put all their energy, money and time into creating spaces for you to immerse yourself in. Most of them get known through a jungle telegraph, you hear about them from a friend and immediately know this is something worth checking out. Through their conscious practices of not making any promotion or posting line-ups to draw attention, they develop an image of being part of the underground movement, something secretive and irresistible.
Heideglühen is an experience like that, a club where you can loose yourself in music, glitter, confetti and costumes. Where the rave goes on through the day, and where the people working have as much fun as the dancers, serving fruit or spraying you with water on hot days. Or Mensch Maier, a rough, industrial and dark techno haven, still unknown to many.
Most of these clubs only manage to stay under the radar for a short period of time, at most a couple of years. A recent and current example of how such a club can rise to become a star on the Berlin night sky is Sisyphos. A massive old dog cookie factory area turned into a sanctuary for electronic music lovers, with floors serving everything from techno, over tech house, deep house and down tempo electronica. The crew members spend all they earn in developing and moulding the club into new and exiting imprints, always staying on top with a perfectly tuned sound system and inventive lights. Additionally they have their own café and pizza place, so for the eager dancer there is no problem to stay for several days. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly walk in on Richie Hawtin playing one of his “secret act” shows.
What is characteristic for these clubs is that people are not mainly focused on who is playing, but continue to go there because they know they will be served music of high quality. This is the high, the constant euphoria the skilled and experienced party goers look for. There is a fine line between falling in to the tourist traps, and finding a place you actually get good value for your money and energy invested in the night. Additionally some of the clubs are selective with when they open, so it can pay off to keep an eye to their opening routines.