If you’ve partied in Berghain at some point, chances are you can attest to the club’s absolute brilliance. Practically everyone who’s raved in Berghain has a story to tell. Many of these stories are hilarious, some are charming and others are downright odd, while there’s also a multitude of Berghain tales that we couldn’t possibly dare repeat on these pages.
But what about the people behind the decks? Although theirs is a fundamentally different experience to those on the dancefloor, it’s clear that when it comes to places a DJ can ply their trade, Berghain is hard to beat. With all this in mind, we rounded up ten of the club’s regular DJs to find out their ultimate Berghain memory. Or at least, the printable ones.
"I’ve been playing the club on a regular basis for over 10 years now and it’s always an experience. Last February I was asked to close the Panorama Bar. I got home from Athens having had very little sleep. I was starting at 11PM and I don’t think the club or myself was expecting it to go late. Around 7AM the night manager came and told me they’d shut the Berghain floor and suddenly Panorama Bar went from busy to packed. It was crazy and I finished just after midday to a full room and for the last hour Boris (who’d just finished in Berghain) and I played back-to-back. I got home around 2PM on Monday, missed the bed and passed out on the floor. I was totally destroyed… but it was also totally worth it."
"One of my favourite moments at the venue was finally getting to drop a house and disco-flavoured set at Panorama Bar under my Ron Bacardi alias. After decades of primarily spinning techno, it's so refreshing to get the chance to do occasional sessions like this. Panorama Bar has got such a wicked open-minded vibe so it was great to be able to drop everything from Lil Louis to Sylvester, Mr G to Divine, Tyree Cooper to Jamie 3:26. Whether you're spinning the freshest new house cut or a 40-year-old disco track the crowd just go along with you so it's just the perfect room for genre-crashing sets like that. Can't wait to do it again!"
"I’ll never forget the 24-hour Fachwerk label night we hosted, so playing alongside all of the label's artists on the Berghain floor is my favourite experience. It should be said now that a 24-hour label night is difficult, especially when you can only be drunk at one stage during a night!
"So the question was, how do I manage my energy for such a long party, listen to my artists’ sets and meet everyone? Especially when I was playing twice, first as Mike Dehnert and secondly under my MD2 alias. Anyway, thanks to a few disco naps I managed to power through until Monday morning. At one stage when I was coming back into the club, I had no ID and the doormen didn’t recognize me! After convincing them that I was playing they eventually let me back in and by the end of it all I felt like an alien from out of space. But the strangest thing was seeing people that had stayed there from the very beginning of the night until Monday for more than 24 hours on non-stop dancing and partying!"
"I’ve had so many magical moments in Berghain and Panorama Bar that it’s hard to pick just one. I would say outside of DJing there, my favourite moment was hearing Job Jobse for the first time last summer. I was having a rough month and forced myself to go out, but was really struggling to be social. I was literally about to leave and then he started playing so I walked over to the dancefloor and ended up dancing for four hours straight. I cried a few times that day, looking around the room and running into friends on the dancefloor while listening to what felt like such an epic soundtrack to it all. I fell in love with music all over again. Panorama Bar has that kind of energy. It’s very powerful and can transform you. I’ve definitely cried more on that dancefloor than anywhere in the world. It’s a truly magical place."
"I remember talking with Truncate a couple years before I got my first booking at Berghain and trying to envision and imagine what it must be like. Finally I got my shot to play there the summer of 2012. I’ll never forget right after I finished my set, and Slam just started playing. I was unplugging a piece of gear and my USB cable fell and hit a button on one of their controllers. It started stutter looping one of their tracks and I pointed to the button and Orde quickly hit it and the looping stopped. We both looked at each other and started busted out laughing while he shook me. A brilliant memory of one of the top three shows I’ve ever done."
"There are few things I enjoy more than playing Berghain. I must admit that I am addicted to playing in there. I remember I nearly shat my pants when I was first asked if I’d like to open Panorama Bar in 2006; I couldn’t sleep for days! But that whole night is probably still my favourite moment. As I am writing this I am preparing a Berghain closing set starting Sunday night, which can go on for 10 hours or more. There is no place comparable and I’m so grateful to have been a part of the story for all these years."
"If I had to pick one special moment, it would be definitely be when I played Berghain two years ago on a late Sunday afternoon. The vibe was one of the most euphoric I've ever seen and the dancers were completely in sync, losing their minds and body to the music. But not just because of the music, there was a key element that day that clubs sometimes tend to forget: the lights. There was a mix of blue and yellow lights, and also some more natural tones. I had the feeling of playing in heaven, completely under the influence of pure magic. Just speaking about it still gives me goosebumps. As soon as my set ended I rushed to congratulate the person in charge of the lights, but I was told that she had already left. So if she is reading these words, I would like to say to her that she has all my love for that moment. In a sense, it was a beautiful short romance between my music and her lights!"
"In March 2016 we played a DJ set as part of a Blueprint night. We played 9:30AM until 2:00PM, after Truss and before Oliver Ho and it was the first time we played a set that long. It was a cold wet March morning, the place was not that full, and it took a while to get going. But when it did, it went off. We played as we usually do, lots of different styles and tempos, vibes and energies. But the highlight was dropping FKA Twigs and ramping the tempo up past 160bpm by the end. Oh... and finishing with Aphex Twin's 'Cock/Ver 10'. It was incredibly satisfying to hear the classic line 'come on you cunts let's have some Aphex acid!' tearing out of the speakers on a Sunday afternoon to some happy (and some very confused) faces!"
"I’ve played Berghain a couple times and for me, there's just no better room in the world to play techno in. The easiest thing to do there would be to roll out huge kick drums, massive breakdowns and easy cheers for a whole set, so I chose to do the exact opposite, and that’s where my fondest memory comes from. After doing my best to follow the always-excellent DJ Pete, I played four hours and for my final record I mixed in the original version of Sylvester’s 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)'. That record, at that particular moment, in that particular room just did something special and it’s something that people still come up to me and talk about to this day."
"My favourite moment is my closing set at Berghain two years ago. When the booking was confirmed, I was going to have another slot and a 4-hour set under my Sterac alias. And then, a short time before the gig, I heard I would do the closing. I was nervous as hell! But once I processed it all I was hugely honoured. Plus, I like a challenge! And then the night came and went so fast. I felt like I floated through those hours, losing the idea of space and time, and it really felt like I bonded with the people on the dancefloor, like I could take them on a journey. The reaction to my ‘Relax’ edit was special, but when I played my edit of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Beautiful People’ you could really feel the tension in the air. The last few hours I played 80s disco too - imagine that! I for sure confused many people, but they went for it anyway, and even weeks later I would still get Facebook messages about that night. A month later, someone approached me in a shop in Berlin to thank me for that special night."
Photo: Noam Ofir