How to Get Into Berghain

posted by Rose Mardit on April 23, 2014

Berghain April 2014 Flyer

Berlin, Germany -- Berghain/Panorama Bar seems to be on everybody’s list of “things to do” when they visit Berlin. For some, this is merely a box to check. For others, this is the main event, the be-all-end-all of clubbing experiences that will render all others inconsequential. There is a reason that a mere nightclub has been written about on forums, in travel guides, and in publications like The New York Times and The New Yorker: it is not merely a nightclub. If it sounds like I am waxing poetic about this place, I apologize. It’s just that Berghain is as special as the things you’ve heard and read have led you to believe.

That said, I have no interest in writing an essay which details all of the things that make the club spectacular; if you are still reading, you probably have some idea already. No, I want to address the question that so many of my friends and acquaintances anxiously put forth when making their first (or second, or even third) pilgrimage to Berghain. “How do I get in?”

Berghain via The Bomber Jacket

The process of approaching the club, complete with its stark, hulking architecture, is an essential part of Berghain’s ethos. No one finds satisfaction in joining a queue which seems impossibly long, yet the audible bass, and the pulsing lights upstairs in Panorama Bar, act as a subtle invitation, a reminder to weary club-goers that yes, there is something worth waiting for at the end of this line.

If you make it past the door, that is. Barring a coveted place on the Gästeliste, there are no guarantees here. Even then, showing up especially drunk, high, or obnoxious won’t sit well with the door staff - and they could give you a hard time, as is their prerogative. For the plebs (i.e., people not on the list,) your chances depend entirely on the night. There is always the possibility that after queuing for an hour, or much longer than that, you will get to the front and hear, “Sorry, not tonight.” And there is nothing you can do about it.

“Wait a minute. They can just turn me away, without any explanation?” Yes, that’s right.

“What if I listen to all of the conventional wisdom? If I wear all black, and only come with one or two other people, and don’t speak English anywhere near the door? That should help, right?” Depends. Maybe those things will help you, maybe they won’t. I can’t predict the future.

“But I’m a paying customer!” you add incredulously. “How can they say no to a paying customer?” Because there will be another thousand people in line behind you on any given night, willing to pay €14 for a stamp, that’s why.

You are certainly allowed to be disappointed if you don’t make it inside. If you like, you can connect with bitter folks on the Internet and start a support group. Just take to Yelp or Foursqure, where plenty of others have (quite hilariously) whined about being turned away, complained about how horrible the club and its staff are, moaned that it is “unfair.” Aww. Rejection stings, doesn’t it?

I went to a range of clubs during the years that I called myself an NYC resident, and I know that many of the superficial aspects of the city’s nightlife culture are applicable across other major cities, both in the US and throughout the world. I know, and experienced, how wearing the “wrong” item of clothing to particular clubs in New York can be a death sentence, as far as entrance is concerned. At the same time, NYC is home to clubs where people, regardless of not being textbook gorgeous or especially well-dressed, can secure a place inside by opting for bottle service. Berghain doesn’t operate this way. It is not a matter of what you wear, how beautiful you are, who you are with, or how much cash you are prepared to drop on drinks. At Berghain, nobody cares.

Berghain's Bouncer Sven Marquardt via Colourful Rebel

Accuse me of click-bait journalism if you must, but there is no “secret” to getting into Berghain. Truly. And anyone who suggests otherwise is full of shit.

I don’t have insider knowledge to offer. What I can say though is that you needn’t try so hard. Do not consult an app in an effort to get through the door, not only because that would be lame, but also because that would be unnecessary. Instead of aiming to emulate Berlin hipster-chic, wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing. Your Deutsch skills aren’t so hot? Well, no need to presuppose xenophobia on Sven Marquardt’s part, because trust that foreign tourists come, and get into, Berghain every single night. If you are not sure how to respond to a question, just say so, politely, in English. The most salient piece of advice I can give is, don’t be an asshole. No one likes rude, impatient, or overly loud people, so don’t be one of them. Sven and Co. do a great job of choosing who gets in and who doesn’t: there is nearly always a wonderful mix of people inside, people who are there not to gawk at debauchery, but to enjoy high-quality music and good (or at least, interesting) company.

In the end, the guys at the door might say, “We don’t have a place for you inside tonight.” Please do not take this as a cue to challenge them, because they don’t want to hear it, and neither do the patient people waiting behind you. There isn’t room for debate. Take that for what it is: a “no,” plain and simple. Not a judge of your character, not an assessment of how cool you are. Rather than lambasting the club for having an “amorphous” or “unjust” door policy, get over yourself. Move on, preferably by making your way to one of the many other excellent clubs in Berlin. Whatever you do, don’t let your ego be bruised because you were turned away from Berghain – or any other club, for that matter.

See you on the dance floor (maybe!)

Berghain via DTLA Buzz

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