Friday, 22 February 2013

23: Berghain


If you're aged between 18 and 30 and you are visiting Berlin, one of the first things your friends back home will want to know is if you visited Berghain. The former power plant-turned trendsetting club has assumed mythical status among ravers the world over. The 48-hour parties; open fisting in the dark room, women in bras, men dressed in gimp suits, all in leather -  and enough chemicals to sustain a pharmacy in a warzone.

Berghain isn't a club for the fainthearted. A night (parties often go on for two or three) spent between the lofty converted pillars of the power-plant offers a panorama of bizarrely assorted colours, sounds and faces.  Machines dance as if each swing of their arm propels the DJ by kinetic power. Muscle Maries police the dance floor with eyeballs of fury. 

Lofty highs.
Throw in two thousand people, a dark room full of open lust, more sweat than the Chinese Olympics Team and you begin to get the picture. 

Relentless hard techno combines with a timetable that diseregards life and sunlight at Berghain like in few other places. Souls holed up for parties three-days long, parties that live off the enthusiastic energy and dedication of the crowd. All this and more make Berghain a relentless visual and sensory experience.

The artwork in the side bar advertises the club's eclectic mix of influences. Look from a distance and what appears to be a nude sculpture made of jelly sits below the bartop. Look more closely and you see a jelly man fisting another jelly man.

Back on the main dance floor, smoke machines pump limited visibility into the crowd. The DJ drives his army onwards. Sweat drops rain sideways. At least a few dozen ravers never stop - like Duracell batteries recharged by techno.

Please don't go to Berghain before about 3am. It's just not cool.  Don't embarrass yourself by trying to beat the queue early because no one beats the queue at Berghain. Besides, the bouncer operates an indiscriminate discriminatory door policy, assembling a crowd head-by-head as he sees fit. 

The lucky ones who make it past the doorman's glare enter into a dungeon with the echo of a distant thump. Tall ceilings feel like the entrance to a Draculean castle. 

As the night progresses you may find yourself increasingly united with the crowd. Do not try to resist this union -  flow with it or leave.

At some point the music may stop suddenly and the blinds lifted to reveal the raver's worst nightmare; daylight. But as the brain fuses on the tired vampires around you, fear not. The blinds are shut before the brain has time to register, the music returns and Berghain is once again alive.  Berghain Blindness then just continues for the next few days. 

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