Sven Marquardt has said frequently in interviews that he sees his job as more like crowd curation than security. Of his team he says “Only a few of my guys are allowed to select guests at the door. They have to understand what Berghain is all about first, and I try to give them that foundation. Beyond that, there are no set rules.” We at Exberliner feel like we know what Berghain is about, so here are our tips to help you get into Berghain.
The basics of Sven’s philosophy are spelled out pretty well in this quote, so take notes…
“I feel like I have a responsibility to make Berghain a safe place for people who come purely to enjoy the music and celebrate—to preserve it as a place where people can forget about space and time for a little while and enjoy themselves. The club evolved from the gay scene in Berlin in the nineties. It’s important to me that we preserve some of that heritage, that it still feels like a welcoming place for the original sort of club-goers. If we were just a club full of models, pretty people all dressed in black, it would be nice to look at for a half an hour, but god, that would be boring. It would feel less tolerant, too.”
Know who is playing: Fact
You will almost always be asked the same two questions when you get to the door. How many in your group, and who are you here to see. Turning up in a small group, and knowing who is playing that night will improve your chances immeasurably.
Behave yourself in the line: Fact
This should be self explanatory, and is just generally good advice. Don’t be a dickhead in the line (or anywhere). The bouncers will see you throwing that empty beer bottle away, they will notice, and they will tell you to go home. They will hear you cat calling, and they will tell you to go home.
Don’t take fucking selfies: Fact
Again, also good general life advice. Don’t take fucking selfies. No one cares, and the bouncers will tell you to go elsewhere. Berghain isn’t about vapid self-absorption, and you shouldn’t be either.
Don’t be too chatty in the line, look bored: Fiction
This one has been circulating for a while now and is actually a rumour. You can talk quietly to people in the line, just don’t be that guy. I’m looking at you, micro-dosing crypto-bro who just HAS to let you know about his new start-up idea.
Black, black and more black: Fact-ish
This is the one you always hear. And whilst it has been true for a long time that all black is Berlin’s official uniform this trend is slowly changing, in favour of a more colourful, eclectic mix. This remains, however, good advice for the Berghain line. Essentially you want to look like you are here to dance for 12 hours straight.
Don’t get too dressed up: Fact
You get into Berghain if you fit with the vibe – and that vibe is pretty simple: be free, be yourself, enjoy the music. If you show up looking too immaculate and like your outfit is more important to you than losing yourself in the techno dreamscape, then you are going to get knocked back. There’s a reason there are no mirrors in the club: people shouldn’t worry about their appearance. It’s about letting go and enjoying yourself. If you have to make sure that your clothes and shoes don’t get dirty, you might just be waiting in the cold for nothing.
Speak German (or at least attempt it): Fact
Germans, and Berliners are sick of a certain kind of tourist. Sick of kids spending 15€ for a plane ticket, flying over for the weekend and being completely inconsiderate. During the pandemic, when these kids were stuck at home, we got accustomed to a much nicer vibe. Whilst diversity and friction are good things in a club, it is fair enough to be wary of those who are here just to get fucked up. One of the easiest litmus tests is, can they speak German? Apologising and explaining that you can’t speak German – in German – is an acceptable workaround.
Don’t bring (too many) drugs : Fact
While the policy surrounding most drugs isn’t super strict, security will check you for substances on your way in. Given the moral surrounding GHB, the guards are especially on the lookout for it. If they catch you with GHB, – commonly known as G, and NOT the same thing as liquid ecstasy – they will confiscate it and kick you out. There is currently an epidemic of G overdoses in Europe, as even one millilitre too many can kill you. Also, if they catch you with an inordinate amount of any substance, don’t expect to see your pills or the inside of the club ever again.
Act, or better yet, be sober: Fact
No one likes the completely wasted, not even the completely wasted. Emotional drunks, angry violent drunks, regurgitating drunks, no thank you. Yes people drink (and worse) at Berghain, but showing up tanked is a bad idea.
Don’t push in: Fact
Yes, it’s true that people jump the queue. Sneaking in somewhere along the line can save you an hour of standing in the cold. The perpetrators are often those who know their way around, and/or those who know that hardly anyone would dare to have a loud discussion in the queue. Nevertheless: We know from experience that people get asked at the door why they thought it was ok to push in, and then invariably get turned away.
Don’t be too heteronormative: Fact-ish
Obviously, straights are allowed into Berghain. But people seem to forget the history of Berghain, and that it evolved from the exclusively male Ostgut, and still has a strong homosexual influence. With this in mind, heteronormativity is seen as one of many possible sexual identities one can have. One reason why Berghain is so well loved, – just like other sex-positive clubs – is that people can be who they are here.
But still, occasionally, there’s some poser with his four bros standing in front of the door, and you wonder if they know anything about Berghain at all. Caution at the door results in a better atmosphere inside. The prejudices and degrading looks that are everywhere outside Berghain, don’t make it past the door.