Berlin’s door policy is the most unforgiving I’ve ever come across.
I hate going out in my home city, Leeds, because of the scowling baldies with testosterone coursing through the veins on their foreheads. I’ve been denied entry to night clubs and bars for being too drunk, looking drunk despite being sober, wearing the wrong shoes, not having an ID, having an ID and them not believing it’s me, being in a group of too many males, and more. A Newcastle bouncer once slapped my ID out of my hand when I showed it to him because he had seen me spit in the street half an hour earlier. “It’s a dirty habit and you’re not coming in”, he scoffed at me, as multiple vomit-stained freshers in barely-there skirts wobbled straight past him into a bar called Sinners, where the carpet feels like walking on treacle and there’s so much piss on the toilet floor that it has its own tidal system.
It’s no secret I have no love for UK bouncers, but at the very least, they always give you a reason they reject you, no matter how flimsy or irritating. You can always see their point in the end, once you’re sobered up and lying wrapped in a kebab stained duvet the next morning. But Berlin bouncers, man. Berlin bouncers are something else. After a weekend there, here are rules to follow if you want to see the inside of a Berlin night club (…a good one).
- Speak German. And if you can’t speak German…
- Don’t speak English
- Dress for the club. Some demand all black. Some want colour. Check it out before you set off.
- Don’t play around in the queue.
- Look them in the eye when they talk to you.
- Don’t lie to them when they ask you questions.
Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. My friends and I spent all day preparing to visit the Berlin club Sisyphos. It had been hyped up all weekend. Berlin friends had described it to me as ‘heaven’, ‘paradise’, and ‘my happy place on earth’. Even after I told them my expectations were impossibly high, they told me it would live up to it. It was 30 degree heat, sweltering and stifling, and we spent almost two hours slowly making our way to the club. We arrived at 4pm, and there was no queue. It was more or less empty, it seemed. We wound around the long path, to where a female bouncer was reclined by the ticket stall.
A couple of kids in front of us talked to her briefly in German, and she nodded them in. The three of us took our turn to step forward, and she regarded us coolly with ice blue German eyes. “Hallo”, I smiled. She didn’t say it back. My friend speaks fluent German, and did the talking for us. The bouncer stared at me, and I looked back at her. Christ, her eyes were like lasers. I blinked and looked away, and forced myself to look back at her again, trying not to wither under her gaze. After an eternity she looked back to my friend.
My friend knows Berlin’s ways. She didn’t bother to argue. The bouncer had already turned her demon glare to the next hopefuls in the queue. We said thank you anyway, and left. Two hours walking there, and three more hours preparation, all for nothing. That bastard.
Bouncers in Berlin usually ask you the same questions. Have you been here before? How old are you? Who are you with? How do you know them? Why do you want to come in here? It seems ridiculously ceremonial, intrusive, and often rude. So what’s the point of it? Well, the bouncers are trying to keep out the party tourists, the fakers, the dick heads, the people who don’t care about the music or culture and just want to say they’ve been to a Berlin club and take five hundred selfies with the club name in the background. Just be cool, be yourself, don’t overthink it, and if you’re gunna go, go because you want to party.
The door policy is annoying, definitely. Once you’re inside the clubs though, you realise why they do it. Because Berlin clubs really are a paradise. And I’ll write about that another time.