Berlin nightlife is the stuff of legend. Sexy new bars and clubs have enriched the old mix of beer halls and burlesque, and you’ll find the drinks keep flowing way past the small hours. From techno in dingy basements to outdoor performances under summer skies, Berlin caters for every taste and, this being a place where poor equals sexy, your musical odyssey shouldn’t break the bank either. People have always flocked to Berlin for its spectacular nightlife. Still today it’s lax licensing laws, disused industrial spaces and residents with ‘flexible’ working hours mean the party scene is extremely vibrant at clubs. Here you are some alternative for Berlin´s nightlife
Opera and the classics musical scene
Philharmonie: Berlin’s most famous concert hall, home to the world-renowned orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, is also its most architecturally daring; a marvellous, puckish piece of organic modernism with superb acoustics. The Berlin Phil gives about 100 performances in the city during its August to June season, and puts on another 20 to 30 concerts around the world. Some tickets are available at a discount immediately before performances.
One of the only original Weimar revue theatres left in Berlin, Admiralspalast was home to the GDR Berlin State Opera during the post-war years. You’ll find it right next to Friedrichstrasse station, the classy-but-cool venue of choice for big names who want to keep an atmospheric vibe and good acoustic.
For a taste of Berlin nightlife of a different era, head to this wonderfully original dance hall located in the middle of Mitte’s smart gallery district. There’s a full roster of events throughout the week with lessons available, tango on Tuesdays or waltz on a Wednesday, while weekend evenings descend into more of a free-for-all with a live dance band performing to the mixed crowd.
Posters on the U-bahn proclaim Berlin Opernhauptstadt (opera capital) – and with reason. The repertory combines visually striking adaptations of classics like Don Giovanni and Rigoletto with modern works by Benjamin Britten. Cheaper tickets usually sell out in advance but it’s worth arriving an hour early to try for returns.
An excellent example of the way Germany deals with bridging the gap between state-subsidized high culture and its underground performance scene. Hebbel am Ufer is actually a fusion of three different theatres in Kreuzberg, providing a space for younger, more experimental work ranging from drama, music, dance, talks and a strong cultural outreach programme.
Gigs and alternative jams
SO36: this legendary punk club dates back to Kreuzberg’s now-distant past as centre to West Berlin’s anarchist squat scene.
This new arts centre is doing much to revive the somewhat moribund area by Revaler Strasse in Friederichschain known as the ‘clubbing mile’.
A true Kreuzberg institution, this indie concert venue was a cinema in the 1950s and retains its curved bar and neon signage. There is a regular programme of live music with all types of acts, from the avant-garde like Laibach and Lydia Lunch to more contemporary bands like Kurt Vile and These New Puritans.
Easily the city’s most famous club and arguably the best club in the world, Berghain is not just a techno club: it’s a way of life for many of the tireless regulars who call it ‘church’.
Club der Visionäre
One of the first and best, this canal-side club is a great way to find out what makes Berlin so special. Nestled under an enormous weeping willow, it’s just out of sight of the road running between Kreuzberg and Treptower Park.
Housed in a ramshackle former bike shop beneath the S-Bahn railway arches, Golden Gate’s popularity is enjoying something of an upswing these days. Once home to a rather hit-and-miss music policy, with the occasional live show, this grimy little club has now settled firmly into a series of all-weekend techno parties.
Salon Zur Wilden Renate
As the controversial Media Spree development rapidly spreads down the riversides, gobbling up many of the city’s club spaces, the nightlife action is being pushed ever eastwards. Referred to more commonly as Renate, the club has now carved out a mini-empire down the bottom of Stralauer Allee: there’s an outdoor garden area (with paddling pool), a labyrinth installation, café and most recently, a large open-air venue just across the other side of the Spree.
A popular hangout for ex-pats – due in part to the motley crew of rockabilly American staff. It’s open nightly for gorging on hefty burgers and slugging pitchers of beer into the wee hours, but things really kick off at the weekend when there’s live music in the restaurant, strippers dancing in the windows and parties in the basement.
This slick club was one of the driving forces behind the rise of minimal techno in mid-2000s Berlin, as well as the first to feature a ceiling-mounted responsive LED lighting system, now copied all around the world.
Sources: The guardian, Visit Berlin, Elitetraveler, Berghain and Panorama Bar