The US has a great club scene, no doubt. But no one takes having fun quite as seriously as the beat-loving denizens of Berlin, who've created an after-hours scene that'll throw down and win against any US city. How? Ahem...
Why Berlin's club scene beats any US city's...
New York City
NYC may have the bridge & tunnel crowd, but Berlin has low-cost flights from airlines like EasyJet constantly bringing in partiers from all across Europe. Music journalist Tobias Rapp estimates that about 10k people fly to Berlin every weekend just to go clubbing. A lot of them are techno fans, so they’re most likely to head to Berghain/Panorama Bar, named one of the best clubs in the world by DJ Magazine and is unequivocally the city’s top choice for techno beats.
Clubbing on the beach may be great, but Berlin has the Spree River and in the (admittedly fleeting) summer, the pop-up open-air parties, clubs, and bars along the water could easily fill up South Beach, including the rag-tag clubhouse Club der Visionaere, the adult playground of Katerholzig, and the water-level floor at Watergate. Then there’s Spindler & Klatt, Badeschiff, Rummelsburg, YAAM -- okay you get the point -- there are tons of parties on the river. Plus the beer is cheaper than water here (literally -- in fact the average cost of a brew is less than half of that in the US) and those $15 tropical drinks are just lame.
Uh, screw being stuck on the 101 at midnight. Berlin’s got fantastic public transportation, which means you can drink all night long & kiss the possible DUI or $50 cab rides goodbye. And unlike the city obsessed with turning looks into big bucks, Berlin’s partiers care more about the music than what they’re wearing. “They just enjoy the music and partying”, says DJ and music scholar (yep that’s a thing in Berlin) Jan-Michael Kuhn. “If they economically succeed, that’s great. If not, well, they do something else and make the music on the side”. Kuhn’s advice for meeting these dedicated music lovers? “Be a professional party-goer”! Cheers to that career advice.
Las Vegas has in-your-face theatrics, but who wants to party with circus performers when you can explore the ridiculousness of some of Berlin’s crazy, themed clubs. The underground club Cookies offers up a variety of backdrops for your fancy, incl. a chapel (in case you just can’t live w/o the drunk marriage proposals), while the erotic nightclub KitKatClub gives the Vegas striptease a run for its money. And forget about those VIP-only lounges. As DJ Anja Schneider puts it, “Even after all this time, Berlin is still considered underground, with no VIP, no special reserved tables. Everyone is the same, nobody cares who you are, young or old, rich or poor”. Party on (every) man.
Atlanta is totally, and justly, proud of its club scene, but you won’t find those insane cover charges and overpriced drinks at most of Berlin’s nightspots. And the party doesn’t even start here until midnight -- clubs like Tresor (one of the city’s oldest and most techno-crazed clubs) doesn’t open its doors until then -- and hardcore partiers don’t head home until after 5a, so ATL loses again for its 230a last calls. “There are no curfews in Berlin”, Schneider says. “The party goes on as long as we want it to”.
Okay, so Detroit definitely has the abandoned building thing down pat, but Berlin takes abandoned spaces to a new extreme. The cities share a connection in the techno scene -- the music came from Detroit to Berlin in the '90s -- but the German capital’s really given it world-class clout. That’s in part to the constantly-changing cultural landscape, in part b/c that wall situation helped give the city a new face, and also b/c there’s a ton of super-creative people embracing the urban space. Want a taste of the warehouse scene? Head to Golden Gate, one of the city’s grittiest spaces, or Stattbad, a favorite of DJ Cinthie Christl. “It's in an old indoor swimming pool, crazy architecture, and a little bit dirty and destroyed. The crowd is always nice and I always have a great time there”.
1. Berghain / Panorama BarAm Wriezener Bahnhof, Berlin
2. Club der VisionaereAm Flutgraben 1, Berlin
3. KaterholzigMichaelkirchstr. 23, Berlin
4. WatergateFalckensteinstr. 49, Berlin
5. Spindler & KlattKöpenicker Strasse 16-17, Berlin
6. BadeschiffEichenstr. 4, Berlin
7. RummelsburgLandstraße 2-12, Berlin
8. YAAMStralauer Platz 35, Berlin
9. CookiesFriedrichstraße, Berlin
10. KitKatClubKöpenicker Str. 76, Berlin
11. TresorKöpenicker Straße 70, Berlin
12. Golden GateSchicklerstraße 4, Berlin
13. StattbadGerichtstr. 65, Berlin
This popular Berlin club was named one of the best in the world, so if you're into clubbin', head here and you're bound to enjoy the techno-fueled party.
This is a chill open-air bar/club, whose laid-back attitude and atmosphere is more conducive to a relaxing evening of sipping drinks, rather than crazy sweaty dancing, which is what makes it a nice change of pace in the Berlin club scene.
Located on the Spree River, Katerholzig is a substantial indoor/outdoor club with a decent-sized dance floor and various other rooms to explore, as well as a resto on the top floor.
Watergate offers two floors of super-charged partying, a river-side terrace outside, and typically, long lines of people waiting to join the action.
S&K boasts a sweet river-side location where it features both a restaurant and club, not to mention plenty of space on their patio to lounge on a futon and enjoy a drink and an amazing view.
One of the most unique clubs in Berlin, Badeschiff is an outdoor beach bar that features a pool... in a river. Once you pay a small entry fee, you're free to roam the beach, roof, or have a dip in the pool. During the summer months, there’s plenty of room to lounge around and tan, but you’ll often find DJs and dance parties here, too.
Rummelsburg is a beach party club, plain and simple, with a tiki bar DJ, sandy dance space, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. It also offers a number of bars and tasty BBQ.
As hard as it is to believe, YAAM is an Afro-Caribbean beach, smack dab in the middle of Berlin. This sandy venue is a nightclub/concert venue/beach, complete with sand, a bar, and African street food.
This underground club offers a variety of themes inside, such as a chapel, as well as a resto upstairs and bars slinging signature cocktails, so you can have a supremely unique club experience in Mitte.
The KKC attracts a diverse group of people from all over Europe, who come to listen and dance to techno and trance, as well as engage in far more explicit activities that the club actually allows (that is if you follow the strict and strange dress code that requires latex, leather, high style, and glamor attire).
One of Berlin's oldest and most legendary clubs, this techno-blasting dance party venue was created in 1991 in the vaults of a former department store, and today it doesn't open til midnight and closing time is usually TBD.
Located in Mitte, Golden Gate is one of Berlin's grittiest clubs, which consists of a small, dark dance floor where parties sometimes last until the following afternoon.
If you've never been to a club that has an empty indoor swimming pool inside, you've never been to Stattbad. This unique club/art gallery/event space looks gritty and a bit dilapidated, making it a unique draw for clubbers.