Would You Get Past the Notorious Berlin Bouncers?

From a workshop on how to sew your own Berghain outfit to a website simulation that tells you whether you’ll get in, winning over bouncers of iconic Berlin clubs is a well-discussed topic. Do you have what it takes to get in?
Would You Get Past the Notorious Berlin Bouncers?
Urska Jaksa

Strict policy at the doors of certain iconic Berlin clubs has generated a lot of myths and advice through the years. First, let’s talk about how it all started. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Techno scene and Electronic music in general flourished in abandoned buildings where young people organized illegal parties: hangers, bunkers, underground stations, and power plants all became venues for parties that just didn’t stop.

One of the clubs that played an important role in the establishment of the club scene is Tresor, which was then illegal and has now reopened. Artistic freedom was based on people, not necessarily born in Berlin, celebrating life and enjoying music. Eventually the scene bloomed into a legitimate business – labels were established and merchandise was sold. With that, the tourists came.

Now the clubbing scene is a hallmark of the city and a magnet for a lot of tourists. However, the gentrification is not without its challenges, as it makes the party scene ‘boring’.

The fight against “boring”

Renowned clubs are fighting this with a stricter door policy. Therefore, bouncers are the ones to impress. Acting as the guardians of the Berlin club scene, they curate the right crowd from a long line of party seekers. They eliminate those who they believe don’t belong there and, in a way, protect everybody’s freedom of expression.

So, what are the rules?

If you know nothing about the music played there, the odds are not in your favor. At the doors, expect questions like: Have you been here before? Who’s playing tonight? Why do you like the DJ? Where is he/she from? Make sure you know the answers and you’re well on your way.

There’s a certain art to not knowing and the anticipation of something that could be the best night of your life. Or on the other hand, a disappointing: “Sorry, not tonight.” Berghain is a Techno temple and a common off the top of your head choice. It has a no-cameras policy and a bratwurst cart outside. Illustrator Sophie Halamoda has even created a guide that will help you prepare for success and get through the heartbreak of rejection.

Eat your cereal and take your vitamins in the morning, wear something nuts, consider going pantsless or just stay in your pajamas. Don’t try to look gay if you are straight, look bored, and by all means abstain from high heels. Loud English is a no-no, as it stamps you as a tourist.

Here’s another “trick” you can try.
Source: Sophie Halamoda

This is not an occasion for your wedding season outfits. In reality, the queue in front of Berghain often looks more like a funeral procession, as ravers usually wear all black everything. Pastels and boat shoes aren’t a recipe for success. Type “Berghain outfit” into your Pinterest search and brace yourself for an endless feed of inspiration.

Similar rules apply to Tresor, ://about blank, and Griessmuehle. At KitKatClub, they aren’t as strict as they are unique. Think fetish, latex, and leather. You have to be ready to get out of your clothes (wear your best underwear if this is your kind of place).

The good news is that not every club is playing that hard to get. Watergate at the riverside has a moderate door policy – but you will be asked for your ID, as you have to be over 21. If you’re more into colorful outfits, Sisyphos could be your jam.

A lot depends on each particular party but here’s a simple cheat sheet if you’re more of a visual type.

The general rules would be: don’t drink over your limit, don’t come in big groups, and, if possible, answer the questions in German. As long as you choose a club that plays your kind of music and you genuinely feel comfortable in what you wear, there isn’t much to worry about. But chin up if it doesn’t go as planned – Berlin is full of party opportunities!



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Urska Jaksa

Urska Jaksa

Managing Editor at Viberate
Storyteller with a nerd eye for music data. Believes in the healing power of group singing, while her ultimate cure are live shows.