While Ibiza has the history, the climate, and the reputation, a trip to Berlin (finally) this month made me realise that Europe’s best nightlife isn’t limited to London, Paris or the White Isle. I’ve been planning to go for a while, and it’s most definitely worth the wait. As a city, its recent history and rebirth can’t be matched. Whether it’s the traditional landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie or the Reichstag, or more modern Holocaust Memorial, rebuilt Posdammer Platz, or the cafes and shops of Kreuzberg, it’s a cosmopolitan city that’s not yet (thank god) succumbed to the gentrification that’s taken away some of the more rugged charms of our capital.
But the nightlife is something else. There’s too many (Tresor, Weekend, Watergate, Berghain to name a few) to hit in one weekend, but Watergate and Berghain alone were an eye-opener, proof that clubs can be just about the music. Not the DJ egos, the branding, the inflated door prices, or extortionate drinks. For less than it cost me to get 12 beers in Space on a Sunday (and we’re not even talking about money for getting in either, which I thankfully manage to avoid) I managed to get to, get in, drink and get home to Watergate and Berghain. 3e for a beer instead of 10e in Space doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to understand that one is an environment that welcomes clubbers and another that bleeds them for every penny in super-branded, slickly marketed megaclubs.
Watergate, where only a few hundred stare at the mesmeric LED lights on the ceiling of the main room, (and the music of Thomas Melchoir, Frivolous and Daniel Bell) or the monolithic Berghain and Panorama Bar, housed in the old electricity station north of the river, with the stripped-down, warehouse-like rooms and near-24 hour marathon of underground music. And the fact you can see the likes of Duke Dumont, Ellen Alien, Marcel Dettmann, Black Dog, Jesse Rose and Matthias Tanzmann for 12e. 12e wouldn’t get you a vodka in Amnesia. It’s no-frills clubs, where the focus is the music, and that’s it. Refreshing.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t my death-knell for the White Isle. It’s just an eye-opener to realise there’s more than a few alternatives, and many of them in one city. If it just had the weather….. well, if it had the weather it’d probably be ruined already. Sehr gut!