Odd Spots for Night Owls: Weird Berlin Nights
New York may have a reputation as the city that never sleeps, but compared to the high intensity hedonism of modern Berlin there is no contest when it comes to round the clock clubbing. Whereas nightlife in previous partying pioneers like London is beginning to look a little jaded with a proliferation of chain clubs and bars overcrowding the city streets, Berlin is a veritable hotbed of unique, interesting and downright weird after-dark destinations that reflect its artistic and innovative culture. Once known simply for being the home of techno, the capital has held on to its hardcore electronic roots whilst simultaneously expanding with a number of stylish and surprising new ventures, especially (but not exclusively) on the edgy East Side of town. As a visitor to the city it can be hard to penetrate the surface of Berlin’s eclectic nightlife, so we’ve picked out some of the best and strangest Berlin bars, clubs and nightlife ‘experiences’ on offer. One thing to remember, particularly if you’re planning a trip from the UK: Berlin nights don’t start before midnight and often much later, and last well into the early hours, so take your watch off before you go out to immerse yourself Berliner-style!
By day Kiki Blofeld is a relaxed riverside restaurant and cocktail bar along the banks of the Spree, made markedly different from the competition by the fact that it has its own beach, grassy love seats are strewn around the complex and you can sip one of the superb cocktails from the comfort of your own hammock. At night, however, things get kicked up a notch and the inside of the venue is transformed into a space for events and parties. Kiki Blofeld is unique in that it is the only club in Europe that has its own underground army boat bunker with a launch dock, perfect for show-off grand entrances and James Bond wannabes.
Not one for the wallflowers, Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke delights in providing quirky karaoke for the whole spectrum of Berlin residents. Run by a gay ex-Mormon, with private booths named after dead rockstars and with frequent fancy dress and theme nights that go under names like ‘Liquid Brunch Karaoke Church’, ‘Rock n Roll Fagbar’ and ‘A Night At The Farm’, you can be sure that this is no singing-by-numbers karaoke joint. There are regular Rock Band competitions, drag shows and live bands and it can get raucous, especially with the generously-poured drinks that are on offer.
For minimal electro and daytime clubbing, Golden Gate is a perfectly scummy venue that epitomises the Berlin underground scene. The decor inside is lightyears away from the sleek uplighting of your typical modern club, with shabby and ramshackle furniture to match the sticky floors, graffiti-sprayed walls and questionable bathrooms; all the better to mirror the hangovers of the city’s sleepless clubbers, who have christened Golden Gate their Saturday after-party place of choice and roll up from 6am onwards to dance the day away. Located under the tracks of the S-bahn but notoriously difficult to find, make it your mission between Friday and Sunday for an unmistakeably Berliner lost weekend.
A glowing strip on the River Spree, the Badeschiff (literally ‘bathing ship’) is an outdoor swimming pool that floats on the surface of the river, and is transformed by night into an alfresco club channelling the over the top party vibe of the Balearics. Covered by an eerily radiant tarpaulin in winter, the Badeschiff has a number of open air live music events in the summer where you can have a swim and a cocktail simultaneously.
Solar encapsulates Berlin’s tendency towards the unexpected, tucked away as it is in an unassuming 50s office block in the gentrified Potsdamer Platz area. As soon as you step inside, however, the luminous jellyfish-like sculptures hanging from the ceiling in the dark interior lobby and the swish glass lift that transports you to the top level bar reassert Solar’s stylish efforts, and the nighttime panorama of the city lights from the bar puts you at the centre of the capital. Swings dangling from the ceiling, bed-like seating and delicious cocktails reinforce its self-conscious chic, making Solar a great place to kick off your night out atop the city.
Tresor is a true techno institution in Berlin, with a history stretching back to 1991 when it first opened in the basement of an old department store. Since then the club has upped sticks but retained its original rave roots, with its current home an industrial power station in trendy East Berlin. Tresor ranges across three floors where the music goes from hardcore to minimal but is always loud, with a deafening sound system and awe-inspiring view of the building’s ruins and twisting tunnels. This bone-shattering electro monster is a must-visit for those wanting to experience a taste of Berlin’s early rave scene with a 21st century twist, all within uniquely cavernous settings.
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