Living abroad

Berlin Clubbing Etiquette

Berlin is known around the world for having one of the best, if not the best, clubbing culture. But it isn't necessarily the most accessible - read on to learn about some key tips and tricks to facilitate your partying experiences.

The German capital is a site of immense historical significance, boasts a blossoming gastronomic culture (not just Currywurst and Döner, although these are much loved for good reason) as well as some beautiful parks and lakes. Yet it is perhaps best known for its wild clubbing scene. It is very much a young person city (it won’t be making an appearance on my list of places to retire to – yes, I’ve already thought about this) and notorious for its progressive, liberal ideals, which are very much evident in its vibrant nightlife. Having spent six thoroughly enjoyable months there, I was able to experience some of the best establishments the city has to offer, and hope the following tips and tricks will come in useful.

General rules of thumb

Clubbing in Berlin is serious business, to the extent that there exists a certain unspoken ‘clubbing etiquette’. This is not a comprehensive list, by all means, and merely reflects certain elements I picked up on during my time there. If you have a German friend or know someone who has spent a lot of time in Berlin, they will be an invaluable clubbing resource. Ultimately, don’t worry about sticking to this list to the T - chances are you’ll have a great time regardless. But have the following in the back of your mind when you go face to face with a glaring 6ft5 bearded German bouncer.

What to wear

Berlin is unashamedly hip and trendy. You only need to walk around Kreuzberg for 10 minutes before you’ll have noticed something. Everyone loves black. Even when the weather is gloriously sunny, most Berliners seem to retain their penchant for sombre clothing. This also applies to going out in the evening.

Go out and buy a black T-Shirt. Then buy another. Then another

Clubbing dress-code is not strictly black, but dark clothes tend to be the norm; I’ve seen people get rejected for wearing white jeans, (surely a no-no anyway?!) shirts and hats. Go out and buy a black T-Shirt. Then buy another. Then another. Rinse and repeat. This doesn’t mean you have to go the whole hog and turn up looking like Marilyn Manson. But undoubtedly your best bet is not to consciously dress-up for the occasion or make too much effort (this applies to both boys and girl!). Sounds ideal for most, I’d imagine!

 Clubbing dress-code in Berlin

  Not enough black, guys...

Timing your clubbing

This is key, although obviously very dependent on your circumstances. You’ve had Späti beer after Späti beer, look at your watch and see that its 12.30pm. Perfect time to hit a club, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. Really, you couldn’t. Don’t even think about going to a club before 2am. And even then, they may not be busy until about 5am. It’s sensible therefore to try and shift your body clock back by about 4 hours. Easier said than done, I know.

Time is just a concept here

In innocent ol’ England, one typically heads to a club at around 11pm and leaves at 2.30/3am, followed by a pizza slice (or a whole domino’s, for that matter), a kebab, or the monstrous kebab pizza (even better than they sound). In Berlin, arrive at around 2/3am, and don’t think or plan a leaving time. Time is just a concept here. Let the pumping techno decide what time you leave. This will typically be at around 7/8am, although the parties often continue well into the afternoon. Crazy? Yes. Great fun? Oh yes.

Queuing

As a Brit, I’m no stranger to queuing and relish any opportunity I can get to stolidly and quietly wait in line. In Berlin, expect to have to queue to get into a club. For the more difficult clubs, try not to speak loudly in English, especially when you get nearer to the door. Keep phone checking to a minimum and make sure you are sober enough to stand up straight. IMPORTANT: to have any chance of getting into places, don’t try and enter in big groups – if there are lots of you, don’t panic, just split up into 2s or 3s, and try and have a good boy/girl ratio. Be prepared to answer a few questions in German from the bouncer, such as your age, if you have your ID with you, and if you are having a good night (say you are, regardless if this is true or not!) Also really helps to know the names of the djs playing that evening – it’s about the music, after all.

Staying awake

Without doubt, an important consideration. My advice would be to have a pre-clubbing power nap, or alternatively, if you find that doesn’t work for you and makes you groggy (like myself), drink coffee or Club Mate until it’s coming out of your ears. Fritz Kola works too – anything that will give you a suitable caffeine injection. Then suck it up and go out, safe in the knowledge that you’ll feel like a corpse the next day (and look like one, too). Enjoy!

 Coffee to stay awake when partying

You might need one or two of these

Prices

In general, expect to pay around 10-15 euros to get into a club. Yes, on a tight budget this can be a bit of a pain but overall I don’t think its bad value. Plus, drinks on the inside tend to be very reasonably priced.

About the author

Will

Will is a British intern at bab.la, hailing from the exotic south-eastern county of Essex, England. Having already lived in Biarritz, Paris, Berlin and now Hamburg during his studies, he hopes to be able to continue this trend and sample the finest delicacies from across the rest of Europe (and the world) before he runs out of money and stamina. He is obsessed with football and cooking, and enjoys the Great British Bake Off a little too much.

Clubbing phrases to help you socialise in style

They don’t always let everyone in, here
Are you all queuing up?
Are we going to go and get really hammered?
I want to check out this club
The bouncers here are really mean

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