The most sought–after but se­cre­tive night­club on the planet, is the world’s tem­ple BERGHAIN to techno and Berlin–style he­do­nism. It is bathed in an aura of mys­tery — pho­tog­ra­phy is banned — and over­whelm­ing deci­bels. A club­ber who has ac­tu­ally touched

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - TRENDS -

We are in front of Sven now, ner­vous, im­pa­tient, in­trepid, overex­cited, ready to burst. He looks at us. How many? Two, “zwei”. He’s im­per­turbable. Time stands still. Why did I put th­ese train­ers on? Don’t they look too new? I’ve been wait­ing for three hours. He’s been re­fus­ing ev­ery­one. We just have to get in. Sven? Still im­pas­sive. Then a nod. We go in. We be­have as if this were to­tally nor­mal. We en­ter on the left. Four heav­ies check our pock­ets, frisk us and re­mind us that we can’t take pho­tos. This is one of the rules, a rule that has served to forge the myth: no one takes pho­tos. No flashes, no silly self­ies, no videos, noth­ing. You pay at a counter, an av­er­age of €14, and get a stamp on your wrist. That’s what you see on In­sta­gram: the ge­o­met­ri­cal shapes of the Berghain stamp, pho­tographed ad in­fini­tum as proof of hav­ing been there. The Berghain’s graphic de­signer is sur­prised that so many fans tat­too them­selves with it.

We go through one door to the cloak­room, a vast sort­ing of­fice, where we give up our jack­ets and sweaters. We’re un­likely to be cold. You can buy sweets, but not chew­ing gum — that’s another Berghain rule. Another door and we en­ter a dark space and an at­mos­phere that oozes ex­cite­ment. The noise is deaf­en­ing, ab­so­lutely deaf­en­ing. On the left, a shad­owy maze, and op­po­site, the stairs. To climb th­ese stairs for the first time is to feel the sound ris­ing like dread. We are en­ter­ing the most highly re­spected techno cathe­dral in the world, the tem­ple of tem­ples, the par­al­lel world, a mod­ern–day Fritz Lang Me­trop­o­lis, a car assem­bly plant in Detroit in 1988, a sex­ual El­do­rado with its hid­den back­rooms, an artis­tic utopia with the world’s finest DJs. The Berghain ex­hibits a num­ber of con­tem­po­rary art­works, in­clud­ing gi­ant Wolf­gang Till­mans pho­tos. One of them shows a man hold­ing his but­tocks apart. When you find your­self in the Berghain for the first time, you stop danc­ing to take a good look at this photo, to talk about the photo, to ad­mire the ges­ture, to try to un­der­stand, and then re­turn to the dance floor.

The vi­o­lence of the mu­sic makes no con­ces­sions. For the first 20 min­utes, it’s like be­ing bom­barded. You lose your bear­ings. You hang on. Then, you let your­self go, to put it po­litely. Peo­ple dance for about 13 hours on av­er­age. There’s a mo­ment when the DJ opens the blinds of the Panorama Bar, flood­ing the crowd with day­light , as a nod to the first Bri­tish rave par­ties in the late 80s, when the idea was to greet the sun­rise with di­lated pupils and hope in your heart. Folk­lore has it that peo­ple be­come pos­sessed by danc­ing for 26 hours, un­til they lose the mod­ern–day ver­sion of Ari­adne’s thread, or their mo­bile bat­tery’s run down, and they have no more con­tact with the out­side world. For the other supreme test is leav­ing. You size up the sit­u­a­tion, par­lay with your friends. No, not yet, another hour, three more French kisses, or un­til the DJ’s set is over, or you’ve met one more per­son. Wait, are you re­ally tired? OK, let’s go. We go back down to the cloak­room and find our real–life rags, nod to Sven who’s still there say­ing “nein”, and we walk to­wards the light. We look at each other. There’s no point even try­ing to de­scribe how we look.

VH

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