The person I fell in love with this past summer told me about Berghain. They said it was this crazy techno club in Berlin, you walk in and everyone is just having sex on the dance floor, it's like complete hedonism, and the key is: only the best of the best can get in.
Now, what does it mean to be the best? The Berghain door policy has come under fire in recent years for being racist, sexist — basically, everything that comes from being completely at the mercy of one bouncer who looks like he's in the queer version of the Hell's Angels. I hear he was also a photographer i.e. has superhuman attention to detail — can really READ you. Or at least can let in the people who look like him.
I learned a lot about Berghain before attempting the door, there's even an online 'Berghain trainer' that's supposed to analyze your body language to tell you your chances of getting in. I declined access to my camera and microphone on that one. Basically, the tips come down to:
1. Wear black (although a tasteful all-white outfit can also work if you're going for a truly alternative look)
2. Look queer
3. Look uninterested
The subtext of Berghain is that it's a male gay club that tolerates other genders. I'm guessing this from the male-only nights they offer and the reported male-only dungeon in the basement (I never saw this, which may actually prove my point). Also, straights regardless of status are generally not tolerated, Elon Musk was reportedly denied from Berghain earlier this year.
Unfortunately, the person I fell in love with was long gone (scorpio) by the time I got around to trying to get into Berghain - so I recruited my other friend to help me (groups of two are best, singles are a maybe, groups larger than two (minus polycules) are an automatic no). We laced the fuck up and looked so fucking bored in that line. I tried to stare the bouncer in the eye, hoping to communicate that I didn't really want to be there anyway, and it worked.
When you get into Berghain you enter a staging area where they check your bags and put a sticker over the camera of your phone, this is supposed to keep everyone super present, or I guess it's also for privacy.
The Berghain building is a repurposed four-story heating plant, giving it a great industrial warehouse/post-apocalyptic/Blade Runner type feeling. There's a main floor with the techno DJ, a smaller upper floor with more house-type music, and other adjacent floors playing who-knows-what. You move between levels on these wrought-iron catwalks that are filled with people pushing in endless concentric circles. The main floor feels cavernous, and the fog machines make it difficult to understand the scale of the rooms since the only light comes from lasers flashing up on the grey bricks and black-framed windows.
In a strange turn of events, I ended up finding the ex-girlfriend of the person I fell in love with while I was hanging out on the main floor. This coincidence is actually much weirder than I can adequately explain to you but I'm throwing it in just to say that this building has some energy about it.
The drinks were expensive so I was mostly sober during the time I was there. We came upon one regular who asked us if we were doing alright and if anyone had made us uncomfortable during our stay. We said no and the regular told us that they had accidentally used ketamine instead of methadone earlier and had sat with one of the bouncers until they felt better.
Berghain has this reputation of being a highly sexual atmosphere, but I think it's important to note that as with most queer spaces, consent is primo. Those in favor of the strict door argue that it keeps the whole thing safe since the bouncer can supposedly tell who's going to take it seriously. I don't really buy this, but I do agree that the people there seemed dedicated to making sure that everyone had a positive night, once you were inside of course.
Eventually, my friend got tired of getting cucked by me and the ex-girlfriend and we left around 12 am. This was quite a short stay by Berghain standards seeing as many goers stay from Friday night to early on Monday morning. In Berghain, we don't say 'goodbye', instead, we say 'don't forget to leave'.