When I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago for Miami Music Week (amongst other things – more on that later!), it felt like the entire world of electronic dance music was there, with pool parties during day and club gigs during night (and sometimes well into early afternoon), not to mention Miami Winter Music Conference and Ultra festival… I could only wish one more addition to the whole shenanigans – nudity (or removal, of clothes, that is!) Despite the perfect weather and context (e.g. pool parties), nudity will doubtfully be allowed at Miami Music Week events, and pretty much anywhere at dance parties, unless these are specialized events. Luckily, there is one club that has managed to combine worldwide fame and a truly underground atmosphere where “anything goes”, including nudity! It’s Berghain in Berlin. It is often dubbed as the techno capital of the world and is famous for parties that start on Friday night and finish on Monday morning.
It was voted the best night club in the world in 2009 by DJ Magazine. Not surprisingly, on a Saturday night you may end up queuing for 2 hours… and in the worst case in vain, as many people aren’t admitted for no obvious reason (rather random, I suspect), which sounds nasty, but the demand is just clearly too high. And you should appreciate the club management, who have preserved the entry fee pretty much the same throughout the years and haven’t turned the club into a posh place for more cash: there’s still “No VIP, no mirrors in the bathroom, no expensive cocktails, just a good sound system and great crowd!”
You can sort of get the vibe from Berghain’s racy flyers. The one above is probably my favorite from all I’ve seen, and by coincidence it features all naked people. It is from May 2014, the first time when I got naked there and almost 4 years after I moved from Berlin. When I used to frequent Berghain while living in Berlin, I always suspected it’d be fine to dance naked there, but I’d never seen anyone do that. I talked about it with a couple friends, but we just never tried. Last year, I was determined to test it. And when I got to Berghain on a late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, the atmosphere was just right. Perfect ratio of crowd/personal space, great music and people who were into music… Off went my clothes, and it felt great. Finally I was 100% at home in Berghain! Most people around didn’t seem to notice, but I got my share of smiles and thumbs up. One guy told me it was more common to see naked people on a Sunday night, when more locals come out as opposed to more touristy Saturday night. He himself was from New York originally but resided in Berlin; we got in touch and agreed to return in the evening of the same day (which was Sunday)… After getting some sleep and doing acro-yoga in Tiergarten, I went to Berghain again, with Tam this time. Despite there was no queue, the bouncer didn’t let him in – as always, absolutely no reason was given (and most likely there was no reason?)… I had a stamp from my previous visit though (once you’re in, you can leave and enter the club throughout the weekend), and as it was my last night in Berlin and wanted to see Berghain on a Sunday night, I still decided to get in. My new ex-New-Yorker friend was already there, and he introduced me to his friend who apparently always danced naked in Berghain. So, this time, I got naked as soon as I found my spot on the dance floor. I kept my clothes nearby, but the nudist Berghainer said I should have left it at the coat check – the staff is absolutely cool with nudity; the bouncer even told him that in case someone made a fuss about nudity, THAT person would be kicked out! That night, I saw 3 more naked guys dancing, so while nudists are a tiny minority in Berghain, we are certainly welcome and safe there. If you like techno and dancing naked, you can’t think of a better place!
PS You might have noticed the absence of photos in this blogpost – that’s because one of the very few rules in Berghain includes prohibition of photography, similar to some naturist venues. Photos or videos wouldn’t make much justice anyways (not to mention that it’s quite dark there), it’s more of a personal experience that makes Berghain special.