Berlin gives the Big Apple a run for its money when it comes to the accolade, ‘The City That Never Sleeps’. Look in the right corners and Germany’s capital offers plenty of opportunities for round-the-clock partying.
From techno in dingy basements to outdoor disco under summer skies, Berlin caters for every taste and, this being a place where poor equals sexy, your night-to-day odyssey shouldn’t break the bank either. But a word of warning before you make a 7pm start on the Jägermeister: pace yourself. Clubs tend to fill up around 2am and parties here last all night, with few clubs turfing people out before 6am. Despite Berliners’ love of partying outdoors, official open-air venues are few and far between, although in summer months pop-up outdoor events take place all over the city at weekends – an added incentive to befriending locals is to find out just where they’re going on.
This sprawling industrial space is Berlin’s most famous venue and was judged ‘Best Club in the World’ on DJ Magazine’s 2011 annual list. Given its reputation, Berghain draws a crowd from far and wide, but still retains a loyal crew of local aficionados. Entry isn’t the cheapest – around €12 on Saturdays – but you can party through until the next day to a mix of house DJs and international guests. On the main Berghain floor (only open from Saturday night) hard techno thunders from colossal speakers. Things are a little more relaxed, so to speak, upstairs where Panorama Bar caters to fans of house and disco. It’s an all-consuming experience.
Berghain/Panorama Bar, Am Wriezener Bahnhof 1, 10243 Berlin (030 2936 0210, www.berghain.de). S-Bahn Ostbahnhof. Open 12midnight-12noon Fri; 12midnight-close Sat-Sun.
Salon Zur Wilden Renate
This dilapidated house, referred to simply as ‘Renate’, lies at the eastern end of Stralauer Allee. It started out as one of the city’s most atmospheric all-nighters and although international visitors increasingly outnumber in-the-know locals, it still offers a slice of that semi-underground experience. Once upon a time parties were only thrown here occasionally; now those behind Renate have settled into a regular pattern of Saturdays and Sundays with occasional events on other days. Expect long queues between 1am and 3am but once inside, you can run wild, like kids in an adventure playground, exploring the multitude of rooms, corridors and hidden corners in a venue that resembles both haunted house and knacker’s yard.
Salon Zur Wilden Renate, Alt-Stralau 70, 10245 Berlin (www.renate.cc). S-Bahn Ostkreuz. Open 8pm-close Mon; 6pm-close Thur; 12midnight-close Fri-Sun.
The strip heading east from Kottbusser Tor towards Warschauer Straße is one of the most popular areas for partygoers in Berlin, being littered with small bars and DIY clubs. Smack bang in the middle of Skalitzer Straße, approximately halfway between U-bahn stations Kottbusser Tor and Görlitzer Bahnhof, you’ll invariably find a gaggle of people forming an untidy queue for entry to one of the city’s wildest – and smallest – house music venues. Weekend fixture Farbfernseher is modestly proportioned, with a dance floor next to the entrance, half a dozen steps up to the bar and a cursory attempt at a seating area to the right. If you like the prospect of three hundred Germans chain-smoking and shouting at each other in a space ideally designed to comfortably accommodate just ten, then Farbfernseher may well be your idea of paradise.
Farbfernseher, Skalitzerstraße 114, 10999 Berlin (www.farb-fernseher.de). U8, U1 Kottbusser Tor. Open 10pm-close Wed, Fri-Sun.
This cranky joint under a railway was once a spit and sawdust place with no clear bookings policy, but in recent years Golden Gate has rebranded itself as an intimate techno club – albeit retaining the charms of filth, sweat and shaking when a train goes by. Opening on Thursdays and seldom closing before Monday, the crowd is a mixture of hedonistic locals and an overspill of those who’ve fallen victim to the legendarily tough Berghain door policy. The atmosphere is extremely relaxed and positive; during the summer people mingle in the outdoor ‘garden’ space, a marquee that is comically visible to passers-by.
Golden Gate, Schicklerstraße 4, 10179 Berlin (www.goldengate-berlin.de). S-Bahn, U8 Janowitzbrücke. Open 11pm-close Fri-Sun.
Lots of party venues in Berlin take advantage of the abundance of former factory complexes; while Ritter Butzke in Kreuzberg fits that description, it has a number of dance floors and outdoor areas at its disposal, so on any given night the space is tailored to the event. The crew here make bookings with variety and imagination; one week there might be a Vice party, next a hip-hop night followed by a Fashion Week wrap. Only open on Fridays and Saturdays and welcoming guests from 11.59pm exactly, its location means you can stumble off for a Kreuzberg breakfast at 8am once the party finally winds down.
Ritter Butzke, Lobeckstraße 30-35, 12101 Berlin (030 9027 73101, www.ritterbutzke.de). U8 Moritzplatz. Open 12midnight-close Fri, Sat.
In a city as liberal and open-minded as Berlin, the very concept of a gay club seems rather redundant and gay venues are relatively few and far between. One of the most famous and established however is Schwuz, which has been welcoming gays, lesbians and transsexuals since the early 1980s. It’s comprised of a generously proportioned basement club with two large dance floors and a crowded smoker’s lounge in the back. There’s a mixed programme of regular nights, mostly scheduled at weekends and running well beyond breakfast time: Madonnamania and Bump focus on retro pop, but parties with better music credentials include London Calling and Search & Destroy, which focus on new indie and electro and prove that a successful gay party doesn’t have to be as camp as Donna Summer dancing under a Christmas tree.
Schwuz, Mehringdamm 61, 10961 Berlin (030 629 088, www.schwuz.de). U6, U7 Mehringdamm or U6 Platz der Luftbrücke. Open 9pm-close Wed; 11pm-close Fri, Sat.
Most clubs have to take a break to rest and repair at some point in the week. One exception to the partying timetable is Cookies, which started back in 1994 to cater to what was termed the ‘profi Ausgeher’, or professional partygoer – those Berliners hardcore enough to party on Tuesday and Thursday nights and still roll up for work the next day. The location has moved about and since 2007 it’s been based on Friedrichstraße, boasting a spacious dance floor with an island bar, a comfy seating area plus a separate mini dance floor. Music policy is mainly electronic with the occasional live act and label showcases (it’s famed for an impromptu DJ set by the Chemical Brothers). On the smart side of Berlin’s party venues, outside of its traditional Tuesday/Thursday night schedule, Cookies plays host to launch parties and special events during Berlin Fashion Week and the Berlinale Film Festival.
Cookies, Friedrichstraße 158, 10117 Berlin (030 2749 2940, www.cookies.ch). U55 Brandenburger Tor, S Bahn Friedrichstraße. Open 11pm-6am Tue, Thur.
A popular hangout for ex-pats – due in part to the motley crew of rockabilly American staff – White Trash started life as a one-room restaurant on Torstraße in the Mitte district. Owners Wally and Wolfgang have since transplanted the burger-bar-cum-truckers-stop concept into a spacious former Chinese restaurant on Schönhauser Allee, retaining the original decor. It’s open nightly for gorging on authentic American burgers and slugging pitchers of beer into the wee hours, but things really kick off at the weekend when there’s live music in the restaurant, strippers dancing in the windows and parties in the basement. Downstairs the Diamond Lounge is a cave-like party space with a large dance floor and bar. A highlight is the recently revived Death by Pop party, a big draw on Friday nights. Expect indie, rock and electronic tunes and look out for guest DJs (members of the Libertines and the Smiths have been known to drop in).
White Trash, Schönhauser Allee 6-7, 10119 Berlin (030 5034 8668, www.whitetrashfastfood.com). U2 Rosa-Luxemberg-Platz. Open 12noon-6am Mon-Fri; 6pm-6am Sat, Sun.
Club der Visionäre
With the recent demise of Bar 25, official open-air venues are precious as gold dust and one of the city’s best-loved spots is Club der Visionäre. It is situated on the banks of the canal, just out of sight of the road running between Kreuzberg and Treptower Park. There’s a small indoor dance floor and a spacious open-air area with a large jetty stretching out across the water. While it’s possible to drop in midweek from 2pm for a beer, the place comes to life on the weekend, filling up with an after-hour crowd, happy to chill, drink and dance the day away.
Club der Visionäre, Am Flutgraben, 12345 Berlin (030 6951 8942, www.clubdervisionaere.com). S-Bahn Treptower Park, U1 Schlesisches Tor. Open 2pm-close Mon-Fri; 12noon-close Sat, Sun.
Yes, it’s a techno club but Watergate is way slicker than your average basement dive. It’s split over two levels: the dark upstairs dance floor has a flashy light show while the downstairs area has floor-to-ceiling windows and a sun terrace overlooking the River Spree. The bookings policy matches its up-market feel with sets geared towards ‘intelligent techno’ and house. Open from mid-week, the parties wind down but not before Sunday breakfast time.
Watergate, Falckensteinstraße 49, 10997 Berlin (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.water-gate.de). U1 Schlesisches Tor, S-bahn Warschauerstraße. Open 12midnight-close Wed, Fri, Sat.
A former furniture factory in the centre of what was East Berlin, ZMF is a cellar space with a chequered history. One minute it’s open, next it’s shut down, falling victim to noise complaints from bourgeois new neighbours. Thankfully in recent months noise issues seem to have been resolved and the location has settled into a regular pattern of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Alongside exhibitions, record release parties and book readings, there are more frivolous events on offer such as the extremely popular Neon Raiders queer party which sees things get sweaty down on the little brick dance floor. Without a glimmer of sunlight entering the place, you can dance to your heart’s content until kick-out time.
ZMF, Brunnenstraße 10, 10119 Berlin (www.zurmoebelfabrik.de). U8 Rosenthaler Platz. Open 9pm-close Wed; 11pm-close Fri, Sat.
Relatively new but a listings hottie, this club’s stock may well be on the rise if persistent rumours of nearby Salon Zur Wilden Renate’s closure are to be believed. Situated in a somewhat desolate corner of the city, ://about blank is mainly a weekend venue although occasionally it hosts special mid-week events. Those who trek east are treated to possibly the city’s most gutsy bookings policy; a mix of techno, experimental electronica, dubstep, disco and the occasional live show thrown in for good measure. The interior is modest in size and the party can often be found to spill out into the garden area.
://about blank, Markgrafendamm 24c, 10245 Berlin (www.aboutparty.net). S-Bahn Ostkreuz. Open (check listings) 6pm-close Wed; 12midnight-close Thur-Sat; 12noon-close Sun.
Directly across the street from the Hallesches Tor U-bahn, Horst remains something of an under-rated treasure. It has little in the way of competition in the vicinity and being off the beaten party track it’s less likely to attract accidental visitors. Above all it’s celebrated for championing the bass music scene, which has decamped from Bristol and London in the last few years. Normally a Friday and Saturday night spot, Horst has one large dance floor space, a dim, cosy bar area in back and a spacious yard with seating for those brave enough to suffer the glare of a new day.
Horst Krzbrg, Tempelhofer Ufer 1, 10961 Berlin (www.horst-krzbrg.de). U1 Hallesches Tor. Open 12midnight-close Fri, Sat.
The sunny season in Berlin is a cure-all for grumps, with its many opportunities for stripping off, lounging about and partying the weekend away under the elements. Predominantly outdoors, Kiki Blofeld offers summer staples, such as a sweaty dance floor, beach and outdoor table football. Situated on the border of Mitte and Kreuzberg, it stretches from Heinrich-Heine-Straße down to the River Spree and gets packed in the summer months – especially with the after-hours crowd. It plays to different moods, whether you’re after more action on the boathouse dance floor or lazing in the sand with your tenth ‘last beer’.
Kiki Blofeld, Köpenicker Straße 48/49, 10179 Berlin (email@example.com). U-Bahn Heinrich-Heine-Straße. Open 10pm-close Fri, Sat.
Trinkteufel/Bei Schlawinchen/Jasmin Bierbar
Even in Berlin, clubs have to close at some point. Fortunately, if eggs aren’t your breakfast of choice, the city has an unhealthy smattering of 24-hour boozers. Navigate the cluster of stray dogs at the entrance to Trinkteufel in Kreuzberg’s Naunynstraße for pounding rock and metal and never-ending beer from the tap. Nearby Bei Schlawinchen is equally boisterous and attracts a good mixture of tourists and down-and-outs. Arguably the best all-hours dive for sitting and chatting is Jasmin in Falckensteinstraße; populated largely by Kreuzberg’s underclass, it’s relaxed, welcoming and highly entertaining. Despite appearances, the locals don’t bite, although by the time you stumble out of a techno party and head to one of them, appearances won’t matter. Unsurprisingly these establishments lack web presence.
Trinkteufel, Naunynstraße 60, 10997 Berlin (www.trinkteufel.de) U8, U1 Kottbusser Tor. Open 1pm-4am Mon-Thur; 24-hour Fri-Sun.
Bei Schlawinchen, Schönleinstraße 34, 10967 Berlin (030 6932 015). U8 Schönleinstraße. Open 24-hour daily.
Jasmin Bierbar, Falckensteinstraße 8, 10997 Berlin. U1 Schlesisches Tor. Open 24-hour daily.
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