Berlin’s nightclub door policies are notoriously strict, but Berghain takes this to another level. Thankfully, Berlin boasts plenty of other clubbing options.
There are a few surefire ways to get rejected at the door of a Berlin nightclub. If you’re in a group of more than four people, you’re under 21 or you’re overdressed, you could be in trouble at any club. But then there’s Berghain. People puzzle over the formula to get into what is often called the best nightclub in the world, but one fact remains clear: the chances of being allowed entry are extremely slim. Rejection hurts. But it’s important not to take it personally and to party on at one of these alternatives.
If you’re craving some dark, thunderous techno, head to Tresor, an institution set in an abandoned power plant in Berlin’s Mitte district. This club embodies the dark heart of Berlin nightlife with its labyrinthine, smoke-filled tunnels, basement vaults and industrial dance floors. Although regarded as one of the landmarks of Berlin’s club and techno scene, it’s not just tourists that head to Tresor – the diverse crowd creates a more fun, welcoming atmosphere than you’ll find at many other techno clubs in the city.
Here’s a real alternative to Berghain: a sober morning rave. Glanz und Tanz is ‘taking inspiration from the night to kickstart your day’ by hosting 6.30am meditation and yoga classes followed by a pounding morning disco. Joanna Miles launched the concept in 2018 after she realised that nowhere in Berlin provided a space for sober ravers to let loose. “The alcohol-free, natural morning party is for those who love wellness, music and dance, healthy food and great people,” she says of her initiative, and you can be sure you’ll feel a lot better after this party than you would after Berghain.
MS Hoppetosse is a permanently docked boat that sits on the River Spree. The fairy-lit floating party has one dance floor, powered by roaring Morf speakers. Here, you can dance to the club’s signature bookings of minimal house and techno maestros, or you can sit and chill on the upper and lower decks. As with most clubs in Berlin, it’s usually open at the weekends and rocks all night long.
You can divide Berliners into two teams: team Berghain and team Sisyphos. The two clubs are regarded equally highly but have totally different vibes. Sisyphos is in the East of Berlin and has a lighter door policy and a real festival vibe. The club has a huge open-air area with a dance floor, chill-out spots, hammocks, disused cars and tree houses. There’s even a vegetarian pizza truck on hand to feed ravenous clubbers. People often head to Sisyphos on a sunny Saturday afternoon and stay until Monday. The huge warehouse-style main room plays tech house and the second, chandelier-adorned dance floor plays a lighter house and minimal selection.
Berliners know that summer has truly started when Else throws its first party. The club is located right on the water of the River Spree and is only open during the summer months, as the space is entirely in the open air. The club itself screams summer – it’s made of brightly painted shipping containers and multicoloured flags, with bunting draped from end to end. There’s a grass area where you can chill and munch on Salami Social Club pizza or party under the trees at the open-air dance floor to their upbeat house and disco selection. These parties are afternoon affairs, meaning you can have a decent Sunday dance session and be in bed by midnight.
Gretchen is slightly off the beaten track, tucked away in a corner of Kreuzberg away from other nightclubs. This club doesn’t follow the house and techno trends of the city it inhabits, instead championing alternative genres like dubstep, drum and bass, garage, electro and trap. As a result the atmosphere and crowd are refreshingly different: clubbers here get dressed up (as opposed to the cool, nonchalant style that is king in many Berlin clubs), dance on platforms and really let loose. Gretchen is dimly lit, bar the red neon light that illuminates the ceiling and the club’s characteristic interior arches, while the staff are friendly and the drinks reasonably priced.
When thinking of things to do in Berlin, a night out on the town probably comes to mind. To combine partying and a taste of quintessential Berlin grit, head to ://About Blank. One of Berlin’s most well-respected nightlife establishments, this is a formerly illegal multi-room nightclub known for its off-the-wall parties. Inside there are two main dance floors where house and techno DJs are regularly booked, but it comes to life in summer, with DJ sets in the huge garden space that range from bass to disco and acid house.
This club is a short walk from Berghain and is a great option if and when you don’t get in. Watergate spans two levels and is more compact than many clubs, but its booking team regularly invite prestigious DJs who play upbeat, fun and accessible music. Watergate’s real selling point, however, is its floor-to-ceiling windows paired with its location right on the River Spree – so you can watch the sunrise over the river as you dance the night away.