I Survived a German Sex Club

Jason Hoffman illustration of female picking out an outfit for Berlin sex club night
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

From Mike Myers doing "Sprockets" on SNL to that one scene in Super Troopers, American pop culture depicts German subculture as anywhere from kinky and intense to borderline frightening. But when you move to Berlin, you hear nada about how to get around the city's underbelly of public sex, and diverse turn-ons and orientations... all set to a techno soundtrack. No, everyone is more concerned with telling you where to get the good currywurst and that JFK wasn’t really going on about donuts.

So when I recently arrived at a German sex club (in Downtown Berlin, naturally), I had to figure things out for myself. It wasn't long before I gave myself over to the laser beams, crowds of glistening strangers in leather and lace, and thumping, heavy house music. I'm not anything close to a swinger or fetishist (though I have a shoe collection that begs to differ); but I learned enough to share with you eight tips for surviving a sex club of your own.

1. Dress (in)appropriately

Berlin nightclubs are infamous for strict door policies, and this famous sex club was no exception. To get in, there are two choices: dress up or dress down. And don’t take a half-assed approach to either.

That’s how I ended up with my whole ass hanging out of a see-through lace number (a first for outside my bedroom). At the door, the bouncer told me to ditch either my lingerie bodysuit or jeans. So, for the sake of good journalism, I took off my pants (sorry, mom and dad!)

Even now, I’m not totally sure what the "dress code" officially is. The website calls for latex, leather, costumes, uniforms, and glam evening wear. Maybe the denim was too casual? But I did see a few women in normal tops and pants. My boyfriend also got in wearing jeans and a shirt.

Basically, the sex club version of Darwin’s natural selection can be confusing. My best advice? If you're not comfortable getting down to your skivvies in front of strangers, come up with an elaborate costume (see Rule #2). And if you are cool with going au naturel, well, coat check is free.

Shot glass full of Jagermeister
Flickr/Fabrizio Sciami

2. Let go of your inhibitions 

Remember the classic public-speaking advice, in which you just imagine everyone around you is naked? Well this is kind of like that, except that everyone really is naked.

I felt self-conscious in the beginning, like I was stuck in one of those bad dreams where you forget to wear pants to school. But then, you realize nobody else is wearing pants. And after a few shots of Jägermeister and a constant procession of all kinds of wobbly bits, you start to feel pretty at ease.

There I was, just one of many semi-naked females in a sea of cavemen, schoolgirls, doctors, and sparkly fairies. I let go of every inhibition, and danced between a woman in a monkey onesie and a 6ft-tall alien superhero with jewels adorning her vagina.

It was the ultimate definition of fantasy and freedom. And, let's be honest: the best costume party I've been to since Halloween in seventh grade.

3. The bathroom is a safe haven

If you ever need somewhere to just take a break from all that bizarreness and heavy petting, the bathroom shall be your savior. Unlike normal clubs there is no sex here, since there are way better places to do that basically everywhere else. There are even stickers on the bathroom doors with a group of dots and a strike-through (I'm guessing that means no orgies?)

By the way, this was one of the cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen in a Berlin nightclub. Seriously, it was amazing.

4. Take in the scenery

There will be plenty of surprises throughout the evening. Don't stay in one place -- roam around and see it all.

I ran into all kinds of delightful, unsavory characters by walking around, like an Amazonian in red latex who handcuffed a man to a cage. She made a huge deal out of slowly, painstakingly attaching various whips to her leather belt before smacking him in time to the bassline.

I've been to sex shows before, but this was something else -- not just a stage performance, but the real deal.

Berghain Berlin
Flickr/Bart van Poll

5. Get involved

You're in a sex club. So why don’t you go and have sex somewhere!?

In this situation, there’s no such thing as being an eager beaver (sorry, just had to). There are plenty of dark corners and couches, but all the prime real estate does tend to get staked out fast.

And seriously, bring your boyfriend or girlfriend to the sex club. There were plenty of couples, from 20-somethings to people in their mid-40s, being totally in love (OK, lust), roving around with eyes only for each other. You could see that the setting was putting a heavy dose of spice into the relationship.

Maybe this is creepy, but that was actually kind of touching.

6. But not getting involved is cool, too

Herein lies the beauty of Berlin: this is a city renowned for people doing whatever they want, without being judged. If you don't feel comfortable having sex in public, it’s no biggie. Hit the dance floor, hang out by the pool, and -- at the risk of sounding like your mother during a "birds-and-bees" talk -- do what feels right.

7. It's OK to be a peeping Tom

A little ogling at couples (or groups!) is totally fine. In fact, it can help getting the engine started for Rule #5.

But whatever you do, don’t make a big Broadway production of it. Don't be like that couple that sat right next to me (when there were plenty of other spots around, might I add) who started grunting, screaming, hair-flipping, and nudging me in the side throughout their ride toward climax.

It only lasted five minutes. But hey, nobody likes a showoff.

8. Be respectful

This evening spent alongside copulating couples, furry sympathizers, and masked avengers was one of my best clubbing experiences ever. That’s because mostly everyone seemed to mind their own dangling P’s and Q's. That lack of judgment, mixed with carefree hysteria, has made me look back on my night at a sex club fondly.

Well, that... and my boyfriend and I did have a lot of fun.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Barbara Woolsey is a Berlin-based writer who’s going back to the sex club next time in a monkey onesie. Follow her lewd adventures around Europe on Facebook and Twitter.