Best Berlin Clubs – a personal view
Eine persönliche Auswahl unserer neuen Autorin für elektronische Musik und Kennerin der Berliner Clubszene
A personal selection from our new electronic music writer and connoisseur of the Berlin club scene
- About Blank (Markgrafendamm 24c, 10245 Berlin) About Blank is known for its political attitude to nightlife culture. Parties hosted there need to comply with their basic values, so that you have lots of feminist, LGBTQ-, refugee- and disabled-friendly parties there. The space has two indoor dance floors as well as an outdoor area with a dance floor. It’s definitely a well-known and respected institution in Berlin and has hosted several of Berlin’s most popular (techno) party series (or still does). Both nice in winter and summer, About Blank is a popular destination for people from Berlin’s techno and LGTBQ scene.
- Alte Münze (Molkenmarkt 2, 10179 Berlin) The “old coin” (as the club translates into German) arguably gained in both prominence when the infamous party Pornceptualwas moved there in 2017. Yet the club’s parties on Resident Advisordate back to 2009, when the popular Bachstelzenfloor of Fusion festivalhosted its winter parties there. In my eyes it’s probably one of Berlin’s most underrated nightclubs. Not far from the TV tower, in Berlin’s historical center, this club also stands out for its super central location. The club is quite big, and has an industrial vibe to it, even though it’s more in the way of Tresor(rather low ceilings with long hallways) than of Kraftwerk(very high, spacious area). With popular Neukölln techno club Griessmühlefinding temporary refuge in Alte Münze since the beginning of 2020, the club has attracted additional attention in the scene and media.
- Hoppetosse (Eichenstraße 4, 12435 Berlin) What many people don’t know is that Hoppetosse belongs to CDV(Club der Visionäre; which I did not include in this list because I don’t see it as a nightclub but rather a dance bar). Located on an old ship, I had to include this club for nostalgic reasons – I’ve had some memorable nights there, bumping into some clubbing acquaintances from the times where Ricardo Villalobosused to play regular DJ sets at CDV. Therefore, I would argue that despite it being popular with tourists due to its unique location, it also tends to attract a local, maybe slightly nostalgic music-loving crowd. Parties do go on into the morning hours, but don’t expect a long afterhour session (however, for that you could easily move to CDVthat’s just around the corner from there).
- Berghain (Am Wriezener Bahnhof, 10243 Berlin)How can it be that even 16 years in, this legend of a club still attracts tourists from all parts of the world that are happy to queue up for hours and freeze their asses off just for the chance of mayyyybe making into the sacred walls of “THE Berghain”. And even though I’ve been going there far too many years and far too often, it never lost its appeal to me. Summed up I would say, it’s the biggest club bomb that there is, talking about music, sound system, people, location, door policy, party behaviour, vibe etc. Then again, I feel the need to say that there are definitely other parties that are more kinky than a regular club night at Berghain. I would advise the club mainly to people who really do know what they are in for and that are willing to invest the time and more so the energy that I feel it takes to explore this venue. The crowd is quite specific and arguably rather homogeneous, the average age is probably slightly higher than for other Berlin nightclubs (maybe around end 20s, beginning 30s)
- Griessmühle (Sonnenallee 221, 12059 Berlin. Attention! Temporarily moved to Alte Münze) Griessmühle (German for “semolina mill” due to the fact that the club is located in an old grain mill) has become probably one of the best techno clubs in Berlin. Located in deep Neukölln next to S-Bahn station Sonnenallee(the ringbahn takes you there), the club is a nice go-to spot for parties in both winter and summer due to its relatively big outdoor area facing a canal. The garden gets its playground vibe from all the festival-ish decor and the furniture that has been built. And yet, it does shine with usually brilliant techno lineups (rather than the cheesy “glitter-unicorn” line-ups often found at electronic music festivals). Having the choice between three dance floors, you shouldn’t get bored too easily. Crowd-wise I’d say it’s a good mix between wasted black-dressed techno heads, more simply dressed folks and some happy dressed-up queers.
- Golden Gate (Schicklerstraße 4, 10179 Berlin)Golden Gate has been around for quite some time – on Resident Advisor parties date back to 2007. This small club with a basic design is situated underneath a railway bridge, giving it its alliterative name. The club is probably most known for its excessive Thursday night parties called Donnerdogge(derived from the German word “Donnerstag” for “Thursday”) which usually go well into Friday daytime. Not very touristy.
- Heideglühen (Seestraße 1, 13353 Berlin) I’ve chosen to include this club into my list despite the fact that I’ve not yet been there, due to many positive reports from various friends, mostly in regards to their friday club nights (which most of my friends would go to on Saturday morning or early afternoon). I’ve heard it has a really nice, happy outdoor vibe, being a space right at the waterfront, and yet I expect it to be less hippy-ish than Kater Blau or Sisyphos. What makes the club definitely stand out is its far-off location in the north of the city, tucked in somewhere between Northern Charlottenburg, Wedding and Moabit. As much as it is popular amongst locals, it doesn’t seem very well-known amongst tourists.
- Kater Blau (Holzmarktstraße 25, 10243 Berlin) Introducing Kater Blau, one should definitely elaborate a bit in time, since it’s one of the nightclubs in Berlin that has undergone the most change through the past decade. Starting off as renowned Bar25, a time and space that lots of party-goers and DJs still rave about, it had to shut down in 2010 due to investors buying the piece of land on which the club was situated. The party collective then moved to the other side of the Spree, opening up the second incarnation called Kater Holzig. Again, new problems arose with the piece of land (Berlin was changing very fast, real estate directly on the Spree became too valuable to miss the chance of building luxury apartments). In the end, the Kater (German for both “tomcat” and “hangover”) moved back to its old piece of land and opened up as Kater Blautogether with a diverse range of other ecological, family-friendly concepts and projects summarized under the name of Holzmarktnext door (Yes, the Kater crew was getting older). The Kater Blau stayed true to its old values and vibes: A lot of wood in its club design, chilled outdoor space on the waterfront, similar musical concept of what I would describe as a happy, dreamy, down-beat techno, and generally a bit of a hippy-ish, festival flair (I think even nowadays people here like to occasionally dress up with glitter and festival outfits). Crowd? Mixed age group.
- KitKat Club (Köpenicker Str. 76, 10179 Berlin)KitKat is renowned across international borders for its great fetish parties. The location itself is also quite specific, with lots of hidden corners and dark corridors, plus a pool! If you’re into – or at least curious about – kinky stuff, it’s definitely worthwhile checking out. But get ready to lose your clothes (or at least some), otherwise you might not get in.
- Ohm(Köpenicker Str. 70, 10179 Berlin)In my opinion an underestimated pearl among Berlin’s nightclubs. This one-room club is located in the same building as Tresor, with the entrance being just several meters right to that of Tresor (so don’t confuse them!). You find an excellent selection of undeground acts and label nights. Definitely worth checking out the program. Usually rather “cool”/hip audience.
- Salon zur wilden Renate (Alt-Stralau 70, 10245 Berlin)“Die wilde Renate” or even “die Renate” (translates to “the wild Renate” or “the Renate), as it’s called most often, has been around for a looong time (apparently 13 years this year). As one might correctly deduce from this piece of information, Renate can be rightfully called another Berlin nightlife institution. What makes Renate stand out amongst Berlin’s nightclubs is the location itself: the club is situated in a traditional residential building with a big courtyard, giving the club its cozy and homely vibe. Furthermore, it has a typical Berlin club atmosphere, so I would conclude it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you are not planning on having the craziest and longest party of your life. Important addition: On summer weekends the club also hosts really chill day-time open airs at its nice open air location called Else, which is situated across the bridge on the other side of the Spree (so maybe 5 minutes away).
- Sisyphos (Hauptstraße 15, 10317 Berlin)In the far East of Berlin (and honestly a bit hard to reach) is renowned and super popular nightclub Sisyphos. It has both outdoor and indoor spaces, both a driving techno and a softer tunes dancefloor, a small tea salon, food huts and lots of chill spots all over. It feels pretty much like a festival and has very long parties (so you can really lose yourself there). It’s not a place I personally like going to, as I am not so much into this festival hippy vibe, but it definitely belongs in this list!
- Tresor (Köpenicker Str. 70, 10179 Berlin)Legendary Tresor nightclub has been around since the 90s. Even today they still excell with their bookings. Whereas the dark and foggy downstairs dancefloor is dedicated to hard, driving techno, you do find slightly softer and groovier tunes on their upstairs dance floor. Popular with party tourists and true techno lovers alike.
- Urban Spree (Revaler Str. 99, 10245 Berlin)Right next to Warschauer Straße S-Bahn station you find this large artist space that also hosts parties. It’s probably not one of those spaces that many people frequent, and you have to pick your night here wisely, but they do have some interesting events, so it’s worth checking out their program.
- Watergate (Falckensteinstraße 49, 10997 Berlin)What to write about Watergate? Being an undeniable institution in Berlin (even though historically speaking differently than the famous Tresor that dates back to the 90s), it seems to be one of those places that most Berliners have been to at least once in their life. I personally haven’t been there for several years, as my music preferences have clearly switched from happy house to dark techno. And for several years I believed this to be the case for all of my friends – but then recently, I did get surprised by a big group of friends celebrating a birthday at Watergate. Watergate always felt like quite a modern club to me – mostly due to its architecture but also its light systems on the dancefloor. The waterfront is beautiful, offering a view over the Spree. It used to feel like a club with a slightly older, grown-up, business-like crowd (I think it’s one of the few hip Berlin clubs where you could bump into a guy in a shirt), which might also reflect in the just slightly higher drink prices compared to other clubs in Berlin. I guess, Watergate stands out amongst Berlin’s clubs, because it does not have this dirty, trashed down vibe that many clubs seem to have. If you are into house music, maybe more specifically deep- and tech house, this could be the place for you!
Author: Charlotte Kammerer
Lover of electronic music and enthusiastic club goer