|Former names||Ostgut (1998–2003)|
|Address||Am Wriezener Bahnhof|
|Location||Friedrichshain, Berlin, Germany|
Berghain (pronounced [bɛɐ̯k.haɪn], berk-hine) is a nightclub in Berlin, Germany. It is named after its location near the border between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain in Berlin, and is a short walk from Berlin Ostbahnhof main line railway station. Founded in 2004 by friends Norbert Thormann and Michael Teufele, it has since become one of the world's most famous clubs, and is sometimes called the "world capital of Techno."
Thormann and Teufele became party promoters in the 1990s, hosting a male-only fetish club night called Snax at various clubs around Berlin. In 1999 they founded their first club, Ostgut, in a former railway repair depot in Friedrichshain. Other than for Snax, the club was open to the general public. It closed in January 2003, with the building slated for demolition and later replaced by a sports arena.
Berghain opened in 2004 as a reincarnation of Ostgut. The name is a portmanteau of the two city quarters that flank the south and north sides of the building: Kreuzberg (formerly in West Berlin) and Friedrichshain (formerly in East Berlin). The literal meaning of the German word Berghain is "mountain grove."
The club is in a former power plant built in 1953 and abandoned in the 1980s. The space was originally rented from the energy company Vattenfall but has been owned outright by the club since 2011. The building is remarkable for its enormous dimensions, with 18-meter ceilings on the main dancefloor. The interior's minimalist design is dominated by steel and concrete. Only half the building is in use.
In 2016, a German court officially designated Berghain a cultural institution, which allows the club to pay a reduced tax rate.
Berghain has a Funktion-One sound system on its main dance floor which, when it was installed in 2004, was one of the company's largest club installs. At its launch, the sound system comprised four Funktion-One Dance Stacks (consisting of a DS210, a DS215 and three F218), a Double Infrahorn (consisting of two Infrabass, one Doublehorn Extension) and two Resolution 2 for monitoring. The Panorama Bar was upgraded in 2007 with a four-point line-array system with an additional six subwoofers from Studt Akustik.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, in March 2020, Berghain closed along with all other nightclubs in Berlin. Over the summer, it hosted several sound art installations inside the building and the adjacent beer garden. In September, the indoors club reopened as an art space, hosting an exhibition titled "Studio Berlin" featuring 115 Berlin-based artists including Tacita Dean, Olafur Eliasson and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Berghain has become associated with decadence and hedonism. It is open continuously most weekends from Saturday night through late Monday morning. Patrons openly engage in sexual acts on the dance floor, as well as in dark rooms specifically set aside for such activity. Like Ostgut, the club focuses on the gay community but is open to all, save for the twice-yearly Snax.
No photos are allowed inside the club, with patrons required to cover their smartphone cameras with a sticker. The policy was maintained when the club converted into an art space for the "Studio Berlin" exhibition. Because drugs are commonly used in the club, there are no mirrors or other reflective surfaces, so that guests are spared the "buzzkilling indignity of seeing their own faces after an epic partying session."
The club's door policy is notorious for being both strict and opaque, generating occasional accusations of racism and frequent debate and speculation about how to get in. Head bouncer Sven Marquadt, who is also a photographer, is a minor celebrity in the techno scene.
In 2005, Berghain's owners started a record label, Ostgut Ton. Its first releases were by Berghain/Panorama Bar DJ residents such as Marcel Dettmann, Cassy and Ben Klock. The label's music is mostly techno, tech house, Detroit techno and minimal techno.
In 2007 Berghain collaborated with the Berlin State Ballet to create Shut Up and Dance! Updated, a ballet for five dancers that was performed at the club in late June and early July that year. The ballet's soundtrack, released on Ostgut Ton on May 29, 2007, is made up of five specially composed tracks by prominent minimal techno artists, such as Luciano, Âme, Sleeparchive and Luke Slater (The 7th Plain). The soundtrack received some positive reviews, while the ballet was less well received.
In October 2010 the label released a five-year anniversary compilation, Fünf, for which field recordings from within the club were used. Höppner further explained the concept behind the compilation in an August 2010 interview:
Well, it wasn't really my idea ... I didn't like the thought of doing it like everyone else–maybe a mix through the back catalog and a few exclusive new tracks by some key artists... I wanted something more special. Then a while ago I met Emika, she's making music herself on Ninja Tune. We sat together one day last summer and she told me about her last visit to Berghain. It was a regular Sunday morning and she noticed how everything in the building was resonating and vibrating and swinging and humming–she realized that there were a lot of sounds coming from the building itself. That led to the idea of doing field recordings within the building while it's not open to the public ... It took about two or three weeks ... It was a four gigabyte library.
Höppner also spoke about the label's artist roster and sales performance, saying that many people who submit recordings are turned down because there are "so many in-house artists", while the label at that time was selling more product than other labels, but not generating much profit. Of the period from 2010 to 2015, Höppner said, "Everyone has his tastes and a very high standard of quality. Just maintaining this level of quality is our ambition, I guess. Keep it interesting, and whatever that might actually mean remains to be seen."
DJ Magazine's top 100 Clubs
Position by year
|2010||Best Global Club||Berghain - Berlin, Germany||Nominated|||
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Berlin's Berghain club is known for many things: its hardcore opening hours (starting from Saturday it stays open until Monday noon), its DJs (who play some of the best techno in Europe), and its relaxed attitude towards sex in public (walk past the booths on the ground floor and you're sure to see a bare bottom or 10).
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