Why Berlin's club scene beats any US city's...

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...

Inside Berghain
Credit: Wikipedia / Marcheur1976

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.

Credit: Katerholzig

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.

Lots of people dancing to a DJ at Rummelsburg

Los Angeles
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.

The chapel at Cookies
Credit: Cookies Berlin

Las Vegas
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.

People behind bars at Tresor
Credit: Tresor Berlin

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”.

DJs inside Stattbad
Credit: STATTBAD Berlin

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”.