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Six Tips for Getting into Berlin's Best Nightclubs

May 20, 2014 at 2:30 PM | by | ()

Berlin's Berghain nightclub, set in an old power plant

Berlin is known for its hedonistic nightclubs, but along with that reputation comes a no-mercy admittance policy. The bouncers run the show as they do in North America, but they aren't shy about turning you away if they don't like the looks of you in Berlin. The Internet is filled with frustrating tales of people who have waited hours to get in, only to be turned away at the door for no apparent reason.

Local advice in hand, we got into a line at Ritter Butzke at 1 a.m. on a Sunday morning, gained entrance at 4 a.m., and didn't leave until 10:30 a.m. As the stories of others (both locals and tourists) will tell you, there's not much you can do to guarantee you get in, but you can certainly help your chances. Below, we dish our advice for passing the eye test at the door:

· Don't speak. It's not that all clubs and bouncers hold anything against tourists, but some sure do, and some spots pride themselves on remaining local. Once you get close to the front of the line, keep your mouth shut, especially if you don't know German, and keep it to a whisper if you must speak. Hearing English spoken in line is one of the quickest ways for bouncers to identify groups of tourists and, if it's a crowded night, one of the easiest excuses to turn someone away.

· Don't overdress. Many of Berlin's nightclubs are built in old power plants and warehouses, so don't show up in pressed button-downs and high heels. The club scene is very casual - we wore a T-shirt and jeans on our night out at Ritter Butzke and blended right in. Dressing to the nine like you would in North America will make you stick out and put you on the fast track to being turned away at the door.

· Break into small groups. When you reach the front of the line, you will most likely be asked how many are in your party. Unless you're with a local or speak German, you will be forced to use your English. Last thing you want to do is say a number higher than 2 or 3, as letting in a large group of tourists is not high on any bouncer's wishlist. Wait in line together if you have a big group, but be sure to break up into smaller ones as you get closer to the door.

· Take fashionably late to a whole new level. The parties at nightclubs in Berlin are seemingly never ending. Some even open on Friday night and don't close until Monday morning (the Berghain), and if they do close, it probably won't be before 10 or 11 a.m. (Ritter Butzke). If you can believe it, a strategy many locals use to avoid lines is to go to bed and wake up early the next morning to start partying, as the wait times tend to be shorter. Don't be afraid to show up at 5 or 6 a.m. and party as the sun comes up.

· Check the weather... and bring something to drink. The lines and wait times to get into a Berlin club during peak hours can test the patience of even the most disciplined, and keep in mind that you'll almost always be queued up outside in the elements. Spring and summer can be very wet in Berlin, so bring an umbrella or raincoat if the forecast calls for rain. In the winter, you'll want to dress appropriately. Speaking of staying warm, pack in something to sip on. Drinking in line is perfectly acceptable and commonplace.

· Keep the faith, because it's worth the wait. One of the most-often asked questions surrounding the Berlin nightclubs is whether they are worth all the hassle. Assuming you are into the club scene and not being dragged along by friends, the answer is an absolute resounding YES. Go in with the mindset that you will wait a few hours, and have a backup club should you get turned away. You might find the whole process an annoyance at times, but once you get in and experience it firsthand, you'll no doubt understand.

[Photo: Wikimedia]

Archived Comments:

Hush Hush

Not speaking & not being overdressed were also ways to blend into the crowd at German Spas too! Talking & wearing even a hand towel will peg you for an American immediately!