24 Hours in Berlin: Berghain/Panorama Bar, Club der Visionaere, Lollapalooza and more

Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
September 20, 2016

24 Hours in Berlin: Berghain/Panorama Bar, Club der Visionaere, Lollapalooza and more


How much can someone party in 24 hours? I put that question to the test last weekend whenI decided to do as much as I could in a 24-hour period beginning the moment I was meeting a friend at the Milan Malpensa airport to catch a flight to Berlin. Although we were meant to leave the evening of September 10th, our flight was delayed to the next morning, meaning that we were both only going to get a couple of hours of sleep before beginning our adventure.

4:30am Met up at Malpensa Airport for check-in. Sleepy but armed with a cappuccino and croissant, I was ready to conquer the day ahead.

5:30am-6:45am Tried to sleep a little on the flight before landing at Berlin Schoenefeld Airport.

6:45am-7:30am Transit to our hotel in the city situated roughly 15 minutes away from Berghain/Panorama Bar near Ostbahnhof. We chose this location as we figured it would be far worse to return to a hotel located further away after a long stint inside the club rather than to take cabs/public transportation to sightsee in the days to follow. The area is next to the East Side Gallery, as well as walking distance to both up-and-coming hip neighborhood Friedrichshain and the iconic TV Tower.

7:30am-7:50am We couldn’t check in as our room wasn’t ready. We decided to change in the lobby bathroom to try our best to get into Berghain. Nervously I decided to wear skinny black jeans rolled up at the ankles, black vans and a plain black t-shirt. Admittedly, I changed my hair style so it was bit more unkept and stranger than normal. My friend went the simple route, dressing in black with absolutely no make-up and no hair done.

7:50am-8:00am Looking casual yet full of nerves we made the walk to Berghain. Full disclosure: we were both on the guest list thanks to a friend who was performing that morning. Prior to being offered the guest list spots I had no idea they even existed, or how it worked. Apparently those with guest lists are meant to use the re-entry line to get in, but can be denied regardless by Sven or one of his men.

What truly made us uncomfortable was that there was no line when we found ourselves in front of the overwhelming building, meaning that it would have been somewhat awkward to line-up in the re-entry/guest list line. Regardless we decided to go on and say nothing about being on the list unless otherwise necessary.

We pretended not to be together spacing our arrival about 30 seconds apart, her first and then me. We had agreed to look calm – almost bored – and appear comfortable that we had been inside before and had not a thought in the world about being denied. She made it in after a ten second conversation in broken English with the bouncer (Sven wasn’t there), who at the same time was eyeing me to see if I would be allowed in. When it was my turn he just gestured me to come inside while uttering something in German I did not understand.

After leaving Berghain, armed with DownBeats ear plugs

After leaving Berghain, armed with DownBeats ear plugs

8:00am-5:00pm We partied. And partied. We caught Chicago’s Jeff Derringer in Berghain to begin the day. It was a welcome throwback to his phenomenal Oktave techno nights at Smart Bar in the Windy City and the perfect way to feel at home inside the cavernous and imposing main room.

We immediately realized the sound system there was nothing to joke with, and wore DownBeats ear plugs throughout our stay. The same was true in Panorama Bar when we moved upstairs to catch New York City’s Mike Servito who served up a brunch full of acid house and breaks that had the entire room in a frenzy. Back downstairs it was the turn of Umfang to get the room thumping  my first time catching her in action. When I went back up to Panorama Bar for Volvox I was mesmerized by the sheer combination of the sight before me, the energy of the crowd, the beams of light reaching into the room and the friends I had suddenly found in the room. By a twist of fate, 6-8 friends from Chicago, Barcelona, Los Angeles and Detroit all happened to be inside Berghain at the same time making it an experience like no other – a block of 4-5 hours that I will never forget.

As the hours wore on, we explore the insides of the venue, visiting dark rooms and every nook and cranny we could find without bumping into anything we shouldn’t have been intruding on. We saw plenty that lived up to Berghain’s reputation – indelible memories that will surely remain in our memory forever. We enjoyed gelato inside Berghain and made plenty of trips to the bar for €2.50 shots and €3 beers. We would have stayed longer, but we were on a mission and planned to come back regardless.

4:oopm-5:00pm We headed back to our hotel to freshen up a little and meet up with a third friend who would continue the party with us for the rest of the evening.

5:00pm-7:30pm It was time for dinner and naturally chose some traditional German grub and beers. Despite what they say, if you find the right local restaurant that truly specializes in German food there’s plenty of good food to be had – if you like meat and potatoes!

7:30pm-8:15pm We headed to Treptower Park, the venue housing Lollapalooza Berlin. The festival was about to end but we were determined to buy last-second wristbands from people leaving to catch Radiohead’s closing performance. And we did for roughly €20 each!

8:15pm-10:00pm Getting to see my favorite band for the second time in just a few months was nothing short of spectacular and something I was not expecting to be able to do when we first booked the trip to Berlin. The dancing continued, the singing began and the beers kept on flowing.

Club der Visionaere

Club der Visionaere

10:00pm-11:30pm It was now the turn of Club der Visionaere, one of the most unique outdoor party destinations in the world. Situated on a river bank under the hanging branches of beautiful willow trees, the venue is famous for its Sunday day parties and relaxed atmosphere. On the night, it was the turn of veterans like Clovis, Shaun Reeves and Ryan Cross to provide the tunes, all while Seth Troxler hung out in the crowd.

11:30pm-12:00 Quick pit stop back at the hotel for a new Berghain look and a quick bite. It was time to head back to finish off the evening strong!

12:00-4:30am… and beyond By the time we got back to Berghain, a line had formed for both re-entry and first comers. As we stood ready to re-enter with our stamp in sight, I noticed the door staff denying roughly 8/10 of those trying to get in for the first time. In all honesty most did not fit into what people would consider to be the criteria to get inside. There were people with button-ups, nice shoes, being loud in line, acting like tourists and simply not looking like they belonged in the party.

Once back inside we divided our time between Apollonia upstairs in Panorama Bar and the impressive Len Faki in Berghain. The latter put together 4-5 hours of pure, unadulterated high-octane techno that would have wowed even the most discerning of techno hipsters. Following their own performance, the entire Apollonia trio made their way downstairs to close out Len Faki’s set. The decks went to Fiedel next, another Berghain resident that I had never seen live and another act who did not disappoint. It was at that point – as we all danced as one – that I lost track of time, lovers of techno united under the ceiling of what many consider to be the world’s techno mecca.

Berghain night

And just like that, the 24 hours were gone. Yet we continued to party until the early hours of the morning and later on Monday visited Club der Visionaere again before heading to Tresor until Tuesday morning. But that is another story entirely.

Many asked me if we “took something” and the truth is that we didn’t. We went for the love of techno and we partied for the love of techno.

Forget Ibiza, go to Berlin. I am already planning the next visit.