How to Prepare for a Weekend at Berghain

If you’ve heard about the notorious Berghain in Berlin, Germany, you know it’s considered a penultimate destination for lovers of techno music. The party usually rages all weekend long until Monday (with a few hours intermission for clean-up) but the line to get in is mind-bogglingly long, and most people on it will be rejected.

That there are entire websites devoted to getting in and Thump does something like an annual article on the subject, are a tribute to how much this club continues to entice yet stump the EDM community.

Unlike other clubs, entry isn’t guaranteed by money, being a famous DJ, or even model looks. Some people will tell you that the occasional random rejection preserves the club’s mystique and makes those that do get in feel special. However, what you should also understand is that above all Berghain/Panorama Bar is an institution in Berlin for Berliners, not to draw tourists, and you have to respect that.

Getting into Berghain

If this flower can grow in the cold of Berlin in November, you can wait in line to get into Berghain.

It doesn’t help that you can almost always tell a Berlin local apart from the tourists from a mile away. The tourists tend to be the ones dressed in their Sunday (err, Saturday night?) best, having heard that the club is notoriously hard to get in and resting the weight of their self-esteem on whether the bouncers think they’re cool enough.

The Germans on the other hand are much less concerned about their appearance, getting in, or really anything. They’ll typically be underdressed (usually dark clothes) standing alone or in pairs, and likely carrying a backpack filled with the essentials for a weekend of nearly nonstop debauchery. This is who you want to emulate.

The “attire” is not dress to impress, it’s dress to be comfortable for what you’re here to do which is PARTY. Here’s my list of what to fill your backpack with to make your stay at the temple of techno as comfortable as possible. Who knows, it might even help you get in!

Food – You’ll want to check your bag when you get in (it’ll be €1,5 for the first time and 50 cents every time you want to access, but not remove the bag from storage). Fruit and granola bars work best since they do well at room temperature for hours. You can buy candy inside, but I prefer something better for long-lasting energy.

Cash – I’ve found the cash bar and bag check tricky since I carried euro bills in my bra, and the change I received was in coins. I ended up dumping the change I didn’t use into my boots. Luckily I didn’t have to fish the coins back out for more drinks, but I would definitely try to go with an outfit that has pockets.

Change of Clothes – If you plan to dance at all and even if you don’t (which is absurd, why would you come to a place like this not to dance?) you will get sweaty, and gross, and leave with a grimey film of dirt, other people’s sweat and god knows what else on your skin even if you just stand still and do nothing. Do yourself a favor and at least bring clean underwear.

Towelettes or “Wet Naps” – Security, which does a thorough check of everyone’s bags upon entry, let me by with a packet of wet naps that serves the same purpose of clean clothes – so you can feel somewhat human while you’re in a mosh pit of throbbing, dancing, morphing bodies.

Comfortable shoes – I don’t think I’ve seen a single woman wearing stilettos let in, certainly not in the kind of trashy (basic) attire young women wear to get into clubs in New York. Dress code aside, if you’re wearing shoes that you can’t dance in, you’re doing it wrong.

Place to Stay – Not necessary if you don’t plan to leave, but I’ve found it useful to stay at a nearby hostel where I could duck out for a nap or shower in between partying. You can come and go as you please with a stamped hand, but be warned there is no guarantee of reentry. You still want to dress appropriately and be respectful when you come back.

Thick Skin – Keep in mind, there is no official policies or “rules” that decide whether you can enter, be kicked out, or prevented from coming back in. The bouncers call the shots, end of discussion. There’ll be no higher power you can appeal to if you’re barred from entry so follow instructions, try not to offend, and don’t be too hurt if you are rejected.

If you are not allowed in, do not come back multiple times hoping the bouncers change their minds, or wait for them to change shifts so you can try your luck with a different one. I have seen this happen countless times and it’s not worth the humiliation, or time spent waiting in line again.

Although we plebeians may not know what it is, the bouncers seem to have a fairly consistent criteria for who are allowed in. If you are denied entry more than once, you are probably better off finding something else to do than wasting time trying to get in.

You may also be interested in: 9 Reasons Berlin Is a Solo Traveler’s Dream