Berghain Stories: Getting to Know the Berghain Bouncer Policy
It’s Sunday evening at 8 pm. My companion and I are standing in a quite long queue in front of the famous techno club Berghain in Berlin. The demand probably exceeds the supply. It is cold. At most -1°C. According to the Berghain “outfit code” described by many fans on the Internet, my companion and I wear black from head to toe. In addition, a nose ring and extremely dark makeup around my eyes in order to obtain this “I don’t care at all” look, with which you supposedly are allowed to enter. We both don’t listen to techno music, but are open for everything – anyway, in the end, the doorman can’t see that. Keeping one’s mouth shut and not commenting about anything and anybody? We can’t and don’t want to. Freedom of speech.
So we line up in the cradle of the waiting people. While the Rolling Stone magazine wrote that “there’s something almost spiritual about the atmosphere” at Berghain, I rather think – while still standing in the line with numb feet – that this is how ice-bathing must feel like. Almost nobody talks, but nobody is alone either. Most of the time we see people entering the Berghain in small groups. Some of them walk right past the waiting crowd, hug one of the three doormen and go straight inside Berghain. However, the prerequisite for this seems to be to have blue hair or ten ear holes in one ear. After one hour, two people push their way forward and wait behind us. They seemed like two experts in the field of long waiting lines. One of them considers the Sunday evening line as “very touristic”. I would rather say touristic and unemployed. At one point I feel like I am at a Walking Dead set or just between the zombie extras of the movie. Am I really among people or machines, who all want to be different, but still at one point seem so similar? At least if you take a look at the Berghain “rules” to get in, they create a homogenous mass rather than a versatile party folk. Is that techno or just hippies in black? I have no idea.
The plan was just to have look at it from inside. 20 euros entrance fee (at least that was written at the door) for 10 minutes circus. In fact, we would have really spent this sum. That evening – after 2 hours in the cold – the price would have been really worth it. After all, we would have gotten into a warm space through entering the techno club, like from the ice cave into hell. While the Berghain bouncers seem far too busy with themselves to be able to “spot” any people as non potentials for the Berghain nightclub at a 10 meters distance, we take a look at the half-naked people dancing at the illuminated window and the ones who are rushing from here and there behind the bouncers. We see what we can expect inside Berghain and its nothing else than what you believe this is: a total reality or a total fake. Sven Marquardt, the most famous figurehead of the Berghain is unfortunately not there.
Berghain Bouncer sends you away in English?
Today, relatively few people are being rejected, but many of them have three things in common: they are male and have dark plus curly hair – like my companion. Now it’s our turn. One (of three) Berghain bouncer looks at us: “Sorry guys”. Cool. In a club where you supposedly should speak German to get in, you are being rejected in English.
Anyhow, we really want to get in just like any other person who read about Berghain – even though our main purpose was to watch and not to participate. This fascinating place, where you can be your real self. We try it a second time that day. This time, famous Berghain bouncer Sven Marquardt is standing at the door. We look at him and he… lets us pass. With a smile on our face and a “Danke” (“thank you” in German), we enter the Berghain club. In the end, we don’t pay 20, but 12 euros. They check us from head to toe, we get stamps on both wrists and hand in our jackets at the dressing room. Until now everything is extremely organized. So we still have to wait to get to know the “free world”. After five minutes, we enter the holy halls of the Berghain club. Many half-naked people, mostly men, are trying to dance on a relatively small dancefloor. Body contact is inevitable.
The music is wonderful. The DJ is doing her job great. Same with the lighting.
Berghain Club Marketing
Taking photos inside Berghain is not allowed. Maybe because then everyone can see that in the end, it’s nothing special? The Berghain magic is only what marketing and also people project into it. It’s not the end of the world if you haven’t been there – unless you have created a world in which it is the nonplusultra for you to only remain among your peers and to go through life with blinders. Finally – as with so much in life – it doesn’t make anyone a better or a worse person if you partied there or not. My question is – despite the techno music you might like: Do you really want to go into a club where an unfair doorman policy prevails? Where people are deliberately excluded? Where things seem so liberal – anti-bourgeois – but are actually not at all?
In the end, Berghain follows an excellent marketing strategy of creating a huge demand yet a limited supply. And we are part of it.