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Berlin's Berghain- The Best New Nightclub In The World- (Review)

Author: Garrett Burns (Skrufff)
Saturday, March 12, 2005
"The old conceit has it that if you're tired of London then you're tired of life. Well, those who tire of Berghain must be clinically dead because it's a seriously special place.

For anyone who knew the old Ostgut club, its re-incarnation retains a reassuringly familiar layout, but the scale and visual impact of the new set-up is mesmerising. Passing the aptly titled Piotr Nathan "Ritual of Disappearance' mural in the foyer your eyes are drawn up through the four-storey atrium of what was once a 1950s East German power station. Large tires punctuate the floor where by the following afternoon weary bodies languor.

Climb the stairs to the turbine hall main room and you'll find the best soulful techno in the world. The space itself looks like the set of a post-industrial Bladerunner architectonic wet-dream with huge retro-futuristic speaker stacks, cascading windows and soul-revealing lighting. Berghain invites international names like Ricardo Villalobos, Technasia and Miss Kittin, though on the night we visited Dutch DJ Shindoe and Irish producer Donnacha Costello were fuelling the partygoers.

Most of the clubbers tonight are over 25 and indeed it's the crowd that's one of the most special things about this club. Unlike the balkanised segregation that exists in most other cities, here it is all about the mixing. Not officially a gay club, Berghain attracts a large contingent, presenting unusual spectacles like straight skater kids dancing with shirts-off skinhead gay guys. Rarer still are fetish club style darkrooms where hetero couples are to be found (or groped) alongside their homo counterparts. Upstairs in the Panorama Bar university lecturers mingle with retail queens, builders with art dealers and, well, you get the picture.

Klubnacht - the Saturday night party - goes from midnight till 8pm the next evening and lots of punters stay for the entire 20 hours. Many others arrive in the morning when things really go off the hook, with one guy telling me he ambled on in after a fruitless foray into a nearby furniture market.

Soma's rising tech-house star Alex Smoke and Berghain stalwart Tama Sumo provided syncopated electro house for most of the morning in the Panorama Bar where Wolfgang Tillmans pieces adorn the walls and where you can prop yourself up at the black-rubber bar.

The big paradox about the Berghain is that even though it is a mass-scale club, it is not a mass-produced clubbing experience. After Berghain London seems exhausted."