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Berlin’s Best Clubs – A Game of Thrones?

By Brendan Power . March 22, 2014

Did you get the memo? Berlin is over, didn’t you hear? Yep, you can all go home now, or don’t bother visiting here if you haven’t yet been.  Some time last month the internet got together and decided to dethrone Berlin as the capital of cool.

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But wait, what’s that you say? They’re wondering why we haven’t shed even a single tear, or lost a minute’s sleep over this? Well, I think most Berliners couldn’t give a shit because those of us who have spent more than a hot minute in this fine city will probably always love the place, no matter what the latest bunch of self-anointed coolies say or think. One particular bunch of people that will be a lot happier if the EasyJetset stop coming in their droves are the devoted full time local clubbers, who despite usually having an open-mind about most things, loooooooove to bitch about stupid tourists cramping their clubs. I even once heard a young girl from Sydney, who had moved to Berlin less than 3 months previously, complain that there were too many Spanish and Italians in her favourite club that night. But anyway I digress, almost. What I’m really here to talk about today are indeed the amazing nightclubs that seem to never shut, and which we are so lucky to continue to have in Berlin today.  For me these venues are emblematic of the relatively free and undeniable healthy party scene in Berlin, and as long as we have so many quality establishments to dance away our troubles and celebrate our successes in, I don’t feel Berlin even has a chance of being “over”. I’m also going to rank them in that new-fangled ‘list’ format that the internet seems keen on these days. And in case that doesn’t work, I’ve even crowbarred them each into a family from Game of Thrones for good measure.

 

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#1 Berghain/Panorama bar

The Daddy of them all, the big B and the smaller P, the Temple of Boom and Shutters at Noon. Very little needs to be said about this place, and in fact very little has been left unsaid to the point that given the amount of column inches devoted to it, your grandma probably knows all about it too. Provided, that is, that she reads either the Guardian, Rolling Stone or some other rag of that kind. Still the best ticket in town, the quality of the DJ line-up continues to be the best around while the infamous door selection policy still keeps the hens clucking.

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Best: You usually can get about 36 hours of top class clubbing for your 14 euro entry.
Worst: Sadly the more eager you are to get in, the more fear the bouncers can smell, and the more likely they’ll seem like grizzly instead of teddy bears.
Westeros: House Lannister – Wealth of talent and resources no other club can dream of matching, and currently in control of the 7 Kingdoms. They even have a bear as their logo. (I know, it’s a lion, but shhhhhhhhh!)

 

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#2 Salon zur Wilden Renate

If Berghain is the king of Berlin clubs, then this is the crown prince. Having just had a couple of their many excellent resident DJs go on tour and play a sold-out show in Amsterdam, it probably won’t be too much longer before the international recognition and the articles about “What to wear to get into Renate” start popping up around the webz. Whether the guys who run the place want that kind of attention, however, is another matter. If you’ve never been and are into house, techno, or disco edged dancefloor vibes, enjoy clubs with a house-party feel, and don’t mind getting lost in room after room of party friendly fun for hours on end, then Renate is the one for you. With at least 4 (5/6/7?) proper dancefloors, an Absinthe bar, a chill out deck, an occasional pool (in summer time) and even a labyrinth, it is very very difficult not to have a good time at this debauched, but dignified, den of iniquity. Oh and if that’s not enough, as of last year, in summer time, they now also have a purpose built open air space on the other side of the Spree named ‘Else‘.targaryen

Best: So many rooms = so much choice in terms of music, people, and atmosphere.
Worst: Easy to get lost, especially in the Labyrinth, but even this is not necessarily a bad thing!
Westeros: House Targaryen – I’m pretty sure I saw a dragon in one of the side rooms once. I chased it and then met a beautiful blonde girl. That, and this house sure looks poised for bigger things.

 

 

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#3 ://About Blank

There’s something about that industrial area around Ostkreuz that seems to be conducive to good clubbing, as just up the road from Renate, About Blank is another one of Berlin’s finest dance emporiums. In fact it’s also a pretty good place to sit and while away a sunny Sunday afternoon as the wonderful garden aspect of the club is what sets it apart from the rest. That and the fantastic parties going both inside and out. If anything, 2013 in clubland Berlin was the year of ‘Homopatik‘, a gay-focused monthly party which, like big brother Berghain, also attracted a more mixed audience eager to party down and picnic with the bears. DJs such as Homopatik figurehead, Mr Ties, have really made a name for themselves in ‘Blank’ and look set for even bigger and brighter things in the future.  But it’s not just the gays who brighten up the place. Other parties such as the excellent Get Deep guys are also on hand to deliver inspired bookings and line-ups, meaning on a given night, it’s not unusual to see Garage legend MJ Cole playing right after French Deep House guru Pépé Bradock, Move D rocking it at 4pm in the garden, or catch their own excellent resident jocks like Nano Nansen and Charlie Smooth ride out the early morning on a bed of lush Chicago house and deep techno.housetyrell

Best: Daytime sets by underground heros in the sunny garden.
Worst: Some of the grumpiest bouncers in Berlin
Westeros: House Tyrell – With a motto like ‘Growing Strong’, and even stronger Ties to the gay community, this house also looks set to move up in the world

 

 

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#4 Farbfernseher

Now we may be losing objectivity and getting a little into personal taste, but as much as I love all those big rooms with pounding sounds, I’m still a small club man at heart. I’ll gladly take the occasional hit on sound quality and floor space if the intimate nature of a venue is worth it, and Farbfernseher, located right by Görlitzer Bahnhof, is just this kind of spot. When it only takes 12 people on the dancefloor to get a party going, it doesn’t matter how famous the DJ is, they only need to play good music to get the atmosphere just right. That’s not say that despite its small size and even smaller admission price, ‘Farb’ doesn’t get big names. Local heroes such as P-bar regular Soundstream, Wolf + Lamb’s Maayan Nidam, and Wagon Repair’s Hrdvsion all drop by a couple of times a year, complementing excellent bookings of more up and coming collectives such as Tanzmichmal, Pueblo, and Welcome to the Roomgreyjjoy

Best: Intimate size.
Worst: Can get a little too warm in summer months.
Westeros: House Greyjoy – A smaller house but still in control of key real estate in the form of the Iron Islands aka Görlitzer Bahnhof and Kottbusser Tor

 

 

 

 

cdv #5 Club der Visionaere

While this place has lost some of its sheen, as well as some of the floating pontoons which made it such a good place to hang on out in sunny times, CDV still very much a landmark in terms of Berlin’s club scene. But is it even a club? The music is so low and the dancefloor is miniscule, you say? Doesn’t matter says I. Nobody comes to this place purely for the music, and if they do they won’t be majorly impressed. But CDV is about something other than heaving dancefloors and throbbing Funktion One sound-systems. It is hands-down the most social of all Berlin’s many venues, where instead of straight-up listening to the music, most people usually come to chat in smaller or larger clusters. Before 8pm and after 8am it is usually free of charge, and a great place to sip mojitos while basking in the sun, accompanied by the constant, but often faint thump of the music in the background. Be warned however that for the winter months of 2013-14, they have moved their parties to the Hoppetosse boat around the corner in the Arena complex. stark

Best: Some of the world’s top DJs play unannounced, often for free.
Worst: You might not be able to hear their music unless you hug the speaker.
Westeros: House Stark – Still highly respected despite losing personnel, power and land, just don’t be tempted to tell them winter is coming or they might close for the season!

 

 

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#6 Golden Gate

Techno, techno, techno! Golden Gate is a grungy bastion of the kind of boom-boom, bang-bang, turn-that-music-down-I’m-trying-to-knit kind of beats that drive your mom and her friends mental when they hear it coming out of your bedroom during one of their Murder She Wrote marathons.  Like many of Berlin’s finest clubs, both past and present, GG was an illegal little rave-box down by Jannowitzbruecke for many years until it got its paperwork in order and went legal, and it still retains that murky edge to this day. Despite being filled with the kind of dead-eyed crusty ravers who seem to have a constant, thin layer of party-grime covering their person, the atmosphere is usually full-on and quite friendly, while it is  also probably best to visit on Thursday night when many of the big boys above are closed. wildlings

Best: It’s almost always open.
Worst: Even for Berlin, these toilets see a lot of action.
Westeros: Wildlings – Just take a deep look into their piercing raved-out little eyes if you don’t believe me.

 

 

 

Honourable mentions: Stattbad Wedding, Chalet, Sisyphos, Watergate.
Regretful Obituaries: {Soju Bar 2013, Kleine Reise 2012, Horst Kreuzberg 2013} RIP

3 thoughts on “Berlin’s Best Clubs – A Game of Thrones?”

  1. Great Article! Tresor deserves a mention though. Different music from the writers preference however, but it pulls thousands of people every week for amazing lineups, famous and not so much, and has stayed underground all these years without developing asshole bouncers.

  2. You’re right Shane, Tresor is indeed a fine club, I kind of felt bad after I realized I left it out, perhaps it should be in the mentions instead of Watergate, but that’s the beauty of this fine city – so much choice, so much healthy competition!

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