Partying at Berghain is a love/hate thing. On one hand, you can see world-class DJs, dance from dusk to dawn and experience one of the most liberal club cultures in the world. On the other, you can suffer through hour-long queues, dressed head to toe in black, all to be rejected when you get to the door. Luckily, Berlin is a city of excess. So, if you happen to get rejected from the city’s techno temple, there are plenty more great clubs for you to go wild in. Here are the best clubs in Berlin if you don’t get into Berghain.
Griessmuehle is a diverse club with an industrial feel. At Sonnenallee S-Bahnhof station, this spot is just a few stops on the train from Berghain. Located by the spree, in an old grain mill, it has two dancefloors, one small basement, and another larger area on the first floor. It has a huge outside area, complete with grain silos, various makeshift hideaways and benches that look out over the canal. Its program is varied and ranges from disco, house, techno and even a bit of UK bass. Since 2012 it’s also been the home of Cocktail d’Amour, the wild and wonderful gay party, which is run by Boris and Discodromo.
KitKat is a fetish and techno club, that was opened by Austrian pornographic filmmaker Simon Thaur and his life partner Kirsten Krüger. The music selection rarely deviates from techno and trance music and they have an infamous “Electronic Monday” party every week. It is normal to see people completely naked and while you don’t have to disrobe to join the party, there is a general rule that you can only enter with an open mind, (and some nights only with fetish wear). The motto of the club is “do what you want but stay in communication,” which reflects its extraordinarily open persona.
://about blank is the multi-room club near Ostkreuz S-Bahnhof in Friedrichshain. The atmosphere is gritty and the repurposed building has endless nooks and crannies to explore. During the summer they host a series of open-air, 12-hour parties, called Staub in the large outside garden. The music selection varies, but the club mostly focuses on house and techno, with occasional bass or disco nights. The club is best known for its homopatik nights, a gay party with local cult figure Mr Ties.
Tresor is a veteran of the Berlin club scene. It opened in 1991 – just after the Wall fell – in a shack on Potsdamer Platz, and has since relocated to Köpenicker Straße. In the past 25 years, there have been many historical musical moments at Tresor. From Jeff Mills’ first set to the various Loveparade parties with Sven Väth in the 90s. The club has three rooms, all with a techno-committed crowd, who party hard until the early morning. It is an original icon of Berlin and as a club and record label, Tresor has become world-renowned.
Chalet is based in the heart of Kreuzberg, close to summer-time favourite, Club der Visionaere. Located in a renovated, 150-year-old building, it has a stunning outdoor garden that houses a firepit and a small dance floor, and two large indoor dancefloors. It has an easy-going atmosphere and a music selection that centres on techno and house. Set up by the crew from Bar 25, an after-hours club that closed in 2010, Chalet has a similar effortless cool and commitment to music. It’s cosier than Berghain and Tresor, but the dancefloors, bars and outdoor area make it a great alternative to either and it’s beloved by locals and travellers alike.
Watergate is an infamous club and label on the Berlin techno scene. It was one of the driving forces behind the rise of minimal techno in the early 2000s and the first club to have ceiling mounted LED lights, which spans across the entire first-floor ceiling. The huge split, two-level club, overlooks the spree and downstairs Water Floor has a huge panoramic window also overlooking the Spree. The music selection focuses on house and techno, however, they often host mid-week events with Kultur Radio that range from classical to jazz. It’s multileveled building, amazing light shows and thumping house-techno make this a great place for locals and tourists to dance until dawn.
Hidden beneath railway arches, and housed in a former bike shop, Golden Gate is one of Berlin’s grittiest clubs. It’s known for its exceptionally long opening hours, even by Berghain’s standards. Party’s that start on Thursday evenings, often kick on until Friday afternoon, when the club briefly shuts, and reopens at midnight on Friday and stays open until Monday morning. The club is small, consisting of one main dancefloor, a summer garden area and an upstairs bathroom area. The music is techno-house and they usually feature Berlin-based DJs. Golden Gate is a no-frills favourite with a relaxed energy. You’ll often see techno-lovers and hedonistic locals head here if they don’t make it into Berghain.