Berlin’s a peculiar place. Lacking the depth of ancient history of Rome, the elegance and charm of Paris, the sunshine and sand of Barcelona and the snowy serenity of Switzerland, it’s hard for some travellers to come up with a reason to visit our beloved home when trekking around Europe, trying to see everything they can before heading home. But there is one thing that Berlin excels at more-so than anywhere else in Europe, maybe even the world….CLUBBING!
Without a doubt Berlin is a clubbing mecca rivaled by none, a hedonistic heaven for those looking to cut loose and push themselves to their partying limits, while enjoying some of the finest electronic music the world has to offer. And no club lives up to this reputation more than the infamous Berghain. Anyone who has done even the slightest bit of research into the party scene of Berlin will know the name, infamous for its incredibly strict door policy as much as it’s debuachery. An absolute must for any traveller….right?
Well the reality is that unless you REALLY like hard, heavy, dark techno (and I’m guessing you don’t) you will hate Berghain. The music will seem boring, the people will seem like lunatics, and the dark rooms will look like your worst nightmare. This is of course if you even make it in the door, as after waiting in line for up to 2 hours in the freezing cold chances are you’ll be turned away with a simple shake of the head. Dissappointing? Not at all! See Berghain is just one of many incredible venues in Berlin, venues that to be honest, I’d never really heard of before I got here, but boy have they been where I’ve had some of the best nights in Berlin so far. So before you brave the Berg, read on to find about some other options that may do just as well to satisfy the wild child within you. Of course this is only a small selection and other peoples experiences may differ from mine, but for an objective overview, check out whats below:
Club De Visionaire
Despite the name, Club De Visionaire isn’t really a club. It’s more of a cool riverside bar with a little dance floor, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a well earned spot on the Berlin clubbing map! CDV probably caters more to those who don’t really fancy themselves as party people, but want to escape the tourist trap bars around Alexanderplatz, with ample outdoor seating and a riverside sun terrace perfect for lazy sundays or midweek drinks. The music leans towards upbeat house and disco, varied enough to avoid being cliche but interesting enough to encourage you off the sofa and onto your feet for a boogie. The crowd here is generally a pretty relaxed bunch and the stereotypical Berlin weirdo is usually nowhere to be seen. It’s in a super easy to reach location in trendy Kreuzberg too, walking distance from Treptower Park S-Bahn or Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn. And if you get peckish, the woodfire pizzas on offer go down a treat no matter what time of the day or night you’re there!
Literally across the canal from Club De Visionaire, Chalet is a great option for party people who don’t want to mess about with the games typical Berlin bouncers play, such as quizzing you on obscure DJ’s or denying you for your ‘uncool’ fashion. Chalet generally has tickets available for purchase on Resident Advisor, so you and your whole squad can avoid the risk of being bounced. Chalet as the name suggests, has its dancefloor in an old renovated loft, although the main floor can be a little cramped at times. Much more appealing however, is the gigantic outdoor space, that is equally inviting when either the sun or moon is shining, thanks to the large bonfires burning away and keeping you toasty when you want a break from the main dancefloor. Music wise Chalet attracts house/tech DJ’s with a little bit more international fame and chances are you’ll see some familiar faces on the decks. Crowds and vibe are very typical of london clubbing, so if a big one with the lads is your aim, Chalet is your game.
The club with a reputation as being a “berlin club for non-berliners”, RitterButzke is sometimes an overlooked member of the Berlin clubbing scene, but don’t be fooled, this place is a wicked time! With up to 5 dancefloors playing House, Techno, Disco, Soul and even a few cheeky RnB numbers, there really is something for everyone here. The door policy may seem intimidating at first, but is nowhere near as harsh as some of the bigger clubs. At most you might get asked which DJ you’re here to see, but generally the boucers are clubbers too and just want to know that you’re the kind of person there to get in and have a good time. The club layout is one of the best, with ample space to move around the dancefloors to the bar, and each room being only across an outdoor corridor from eachother. Crowds are generally a friendly bunch, tourists stoked to be in a ‘proper club’ and locals nowwhere near as pretentious as those which some other clubs attract. The only downside is that the drinks and entry fee can be a little steep by Berlin Standards. You definitely get what you pay for though, and RitterButzke is a solid choice if you want something a bit more from your Berlin party experience.
One of the big players on the scene, Katerblau’s fame extends well beyond Berlin, with related label Kattermuke hosting stages at festivals across Europe and label alumni like Sascha Cawa and Dirty Doering pulling massive crowds wherever they go. The club itself really shows off that quirky Berlin vibe despite its location just out of the CBD. Old converted wooden shacks decorated with all kinds of oddities really give Katerblau character, and the riverside terrace section complete with its own sandpit becomes the home of many proper partiers from sunrise to sunest and back again. Muscially Katerblau pulls big local names and internationals alike, with a leaning towards house but the odd techno DJ thrown in too. To mix it up though, the second dancefloor almost exclusively pumps out disco/soul numbers creating a vibe ideal for the groovier ones out there. All of this comes at a price though… and not a monetary one either as entry is usually cheap. Katerblau definitely belongs to the ‘exclusive Berlin club’ list, and it’s not uncommon to be bounced for being in a group (especially just guys), not knowing the DJS playing, not dressing the part (colour is a winner here!) or just generally looking out of your depth with the whole clubbing experience. Wait times can exceed an hour too, so get in early to try your luck!
Considered by many locals to be the undisputed king of the Berlin clubbing scene, Sisyphos is truly a magical place. It may be a little bit out of the way from the rest of town, and sure doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this only helps add to the wonder of what awaits inside. A huge outdoor garden space, an even bigger main dancehall, secret room after secret room after secret room, and easily the happiest vibe and crowd to be found anywhere in Berlin. People here genuinelly love everything about not just the music but the whole clubbing experience, and it shows through the vibrant range of fashion and always energetic dancing seen all around the dancefloor. In some ways Sisyphos is considerded the antithesis of Berghain, all smiles, happiness, upbeat feelgood house music (although the odd serious techno player creeps in), colour and that special messhead to messhead unity that simply needs to be experienced. Sisyphos is hugely popular with locals, so expect to wait a while if you come at peak times. The bouncers can be strict, but somehow can always sense who is really there for the right reasons…which means do your reasearch! Best enjoyed in summer when its open friday to Monday nonstop, set aside 24 hours of your life and experience a real Berlin party!
Have you hit up any of these hedonisitic heavens? Or are you planning a trip to Berlin and need a backup for when you get bounced from Berghain? Share our post to spread the word about what else is out there!