Top DJs and clubs with electronic dance music may be all the rage these days, but Berlin has been at the forefront of the underground -- sometimes literally underground -- music scene for decades.
Clubs in Berlin have been pumping techno and house through their grungy and sprawling industrial walls before most American's even knew what EDM was -- hint, it's not a WMD. While clubs elsewhere relied on mainstream music, Berlin venues were a haven of progression, and Berlin quickly gained its nickname as the capital of techno. If the insanity of the Berlin clubbing scene we are painting isn't getting through, it's where the modern rave was popularized; a word that sends chills down the spines of overbearing parents everywhere.
The city and its ultra-hip youth is still all about getting crazy. Yes, you can find the occasional frills, the posh décor and the designer wear, but it's always secondary to getting sweaty to pounding music all night long.
We decided to put on our best Joseph Conrad faces, jumped straight into the madness and found our five favorite Berlin clubs that will blow you, and probably your eardrums, away.
The hordes of uninhibited and attractive young clubbers approaching an imposing abandoned power plant in the middle of the night isn't the opening scene of a B-quality horror movie. It's the beginning of a wild night inside one of the craziest clubs in the world, Berghain/Panorama Bar, where DJs spin for the hedonistic crowds long into the morning. The cavernous structure is divided into two main rooms, the Berghain stage with ceilings 18 meters high featuring techno that blasts through the concrete and steel space, and the Panorama bar, which offers a slightly slower pace of electro and house. There are no mirrors in the bathrooms (sorry girls), and a strict no camera policy at Berghain means you can indulge your senses without fear of any incriminating evidence surfacing the next morning.
Watergate is the most enviable waterfront property in town, with two sprawling stories of floor-to-ceiling plate glass rising above the Spree River and looking directly out upon the Kremlinesque Oberbaumbrücke Bridge. The interior of the club is just as stunning, with an ultramodern décor of sleek architecture, clean lines and state-of-the-art lighting, including electronic ceilings that become massive LED light shows. But the upscale sophistication disappears once the A-list DJs take the stage, and the two floors of space turn into a sultry dance party, making Watergate a destination for anyone wanting to couple the total sensory experience with some scandal of their own.
Like any quintessential Berlin club, Rosi's was transformed out of an old industrial complex and now provides an all-out party atmosphere for the alternative clubbers in the city. With two dance floors, the venue not only caters to the house and techno crowd, but also brings in a change of pace with live indie and hip-hop performances throughout the week. The graffiti-laden cement walls only add to the casual vibes of Rosi's, but the steam rising from the masses isn't coming from the exposed pipes in the ceiling. Those looking for a break from the dancing can cool off in the lounge areas or even in the sand at the central courtyard-turned-beach.
The Tresor name goes back to the 1990s as a global hotspot for progressive techno music, and that legacy continues today. Now located in a massive power plant in the center of Berlin with twin smokestacks rising high into the night, it's an easy club to find. The inside is an industrial labyrinth of metallic space with multiple levels, bars and all sorts of nooks and crannies to get "lost" in with a partner. Wild dancers produce so much heat on the main dance floor -- known as the Batterieraum -- that they could revamp the generators and power the city. The most hardcore clubbers head into the basement, a decadent confabulation of cages, concrete and insane seizure-inducing lightshows with electro music that pounds straight through denizen's bodies.
Club der Visionaere
Club der Visionaere means "the visionary club," and we are guessing that the designer of this shipyard-hideaway must have been watching Pirates of the Caribbean while he was drawing up his plans. The outdoor club has its dance floor floating on a Kreuzberg canal, with a winding maze of docks and shoddy cabins along the river, and the main multi-level shack has an interior reminiscent of a shipwreck. With its beautiful surroundings and weekend hours that extend from noon till nearly dawn the following day, Club der Visionaere attracts a young crowd of leisurely drinkers looking to bask in the warm sun and hardcore partiers wanting to dance through the cool night.
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