Berlin: Europe's Party Capital
Berghain has been voted the world's best club.
Berlin has become a party paradise. Each weekend, hipsters from all over the world fly into the German capital on budget airlines to dance to electronic tunes at the likes of Watergate, Week End or Berghain, which has been named the world's best disco.
Like a single pulsating mass, the hipsters are billowing across the dance-floor to minimal vibes. Isis Lutz, 25, a blond actress wearing a white tank top and dark acid-wash jeans, is dancing, a beer in one hand, the other raised to the ceiling. "I love Berghain because the atmosphere is so different than anywhere else. You really forget the time when you're here," she says, checking the watch on her cell phone. It's three a.m., and DJ Ricardo Villalobos has just started his DJ set -- it will last for five hours. Ending up at Berghain is like falling into Alice's rabbit hole and coming out in techno paradise.
Built in a huge abandoned power station near the Ostbahnhof, Berghain (so named because it's located at the border of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain) is truly impressive: Focusing on purist techno, its main dance floor has 60-foot ceilings with black steel and concrete walls. A flight of stairs leads you upstairs into the Panoramabar, where partygoers dance to electro and house underneath gigantic Wolfgang Tillmans photos and windows that look out over East Berlin.
Enlarge image At Kiki Blofeld in Kreuzberg guests can shoot pool under tree canopies in the garden or step inside a former boat bunker to dance. (© Kiki Blofeld) While Berghain has room for 1,500 people, it still feels like an underground club: There are no mirrors (not even in the run-down bathrooms), no photos allowed and no VIP area. The club's founders wish to remain nameless -- they started by promoting gay parties, and then opened the Ostgut, a popular East Berlin club that existed from 1995 through 1999, and are now running the Berghain, which DJMag just voted the world's best disco.
If you want to get into Berghain, however, you have make it past Berlin's most famous bouncer: "Ironman" Sven Marquardt, a photographer who makes sure that the crowd at Berghain is just the right mix. Tattooed and pierced almost everywhere and with the body of a linebacker, Marquardt doesn't talk much -- he just nods you in or waves you away. Once inside, you can party for three days if you want to. The club opens on Friday around midnight and doesn't close until Sunday night.
But Berlin has more to offer than just Berghain: At Week End, a club that opened in the 12th floor of a high-rise building at Alexanderplatz, party-goers can dance to the finest electro and minimal sounds while watching the sun rise. During the summer months, Week End opens its stylish rooftop terrace where you can enjoy after-work drinks.
Enlarge image Weekend's impressive terrace offers views of Alexanderplatz. (© picture-alliance) In the summer, an array of beach bars are installed at the River Spree, and the many waterfront clubs open up their terraces to party-goers. At Kiki Blofeld in Kreuzberg guests can shoot pool under tree canopies in the garden or step inside a former boat bunker to dance. The Club der Visionäre is located in Kreuzberg right on the riverside. Guests can relax on a large outdoor deck area and listen to electronic music.
"The good thing about this place is that you can relax if you want to and party if you want to," says Kai Senf, an up-and-coming photographer living in Kreuzberg.
Watergate at Oberbaumbrücke usually caters to minimal lovers and impresses with its Spreeside terrace and a great light installation. But the most famous waterfront venue is Bar 25, an alternative-world paradise decorated with bumper cars, swings above the water and an old photo booth that makes black-and-white passport pics. Almost like it's own city, Bar 25 has a great restaurant, a spa, a small circus, a bar, a pizza booth and a wooden dance floor inside a shack where some of the world's best DJs play.
One Saturday in mid-August, party-goers were especially lucky as the famous French electro group Daft Punk gave a surprise performance. Bar 25 just closed last summer. It looks like it's going to be pushed out by investors who want to construct high-rise office buildings at the Spree. But don't worry: There is always a new club opening up in this city, so the next insane party spot won't be too long in coming.