. Berghain | djmag.com
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#2009

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DJ Mag Staff

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Berghain

Address: Berlin, Germany
Capacity: 1500
Web: www.berghain.de

As far as techno goes, there is little debate about where the centre of the universe lies at the moment - deep inside the vast vortex of 70 Am Wriezener Bahnhof, Berlin. Or Berghain and its upstairs Panorama Bar to be specific.

Like its '90s Berlin forefathers E-Werk and Tresor before it, the unhinged happenings of Berghain are resonating out of the German capital and shaping the future of this sound like no other space on Earth.

Joris Voorn describes it as "the true definition of a techno club that is all about the music", Joel Mull believes it is "the temple of techno and house on planet Earth", whilst Paul Woolford lauds it as "a massive inspiration for anybody serious about house and techno culture".

But for the thousands that are magnetised here from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and beyond, those words will amount to nothing more than preaching to the converted. In 2009, Berghain is the essential techno pilgrimage.

A colossus in every sense, the towering former power station has hosted just about every key name in techno. But whereas most clubs merely showcase them, Berghain hands its DJs the time, space and freedom to explore the full frontiers of their craft.

Where else will you see Carl Craig play for the best part of a waking day or Laurent Garnier (it was where he first roadtested his Innervisions release 'Back To My Roots') embark on a marathon voyage just as the rest of Europe is tucking into Sunday lunch? Even the very shortest sets at this place tend towards the three-hour mark.

"You can go into deep, slow 110bpm burners from someone like Moodyman, take it up to 130bpm techno classics - and everything in between," explains Jesse Rose. "As long as you get your groove on the crowd will follow."

Bringing house names like Switch, Sneak and Derrick Carter to Berlin, Jesse's monthly Made To Play residency in the Panorama Bar is a perfect example of Berghain's musical democracy. For whilst rising tall as an undisputed techno stronghold, Berghain is far from a closed musical fortress with Jerome Sydenham's soulful deepness, Distance's edgy industrial dubstep and the dystopian voodoo rhythms of Shackleton all finding a home here.

Of course, any weekly club will always be mastered by its residents and in Marcel Dettman Berghain have a DJ that has commanded the main room since 2004. His 'Berghain 02' mix frames the sound of the club at its best - deep, intense, hypnotic and informed by past, present and future in equal measure.

But what really places Berghain in another dimension altogether is that perpetual air of unchecked debauchery. One that consumes the concepts of time and space entirely. As Jesse Rose explains: "Entering Panorama Bar is like going back in time to an age when people went out to really party."

A true hedonists' playground, no club on earth goes deeper, or longer, than the full Berghain/Panorama Bar experience at the moment. Beginning at midnight and just about hitting stride at 10am every Sunday morning in the Panorama Bar, it runs to the late hours of Sunday evening each week.

It is always the forbidden pleasures that satisfy the very deepest urges and the journey into Berghain's abyss is laced with deviant exploration from the start.

Lying like a dark secret at the end of dusty, fence-enclosed road, its huge looming face is as foreboding as the militant rhythms that have become associated with peak-time Berghain.

But whilst the bouncers are notoriously selective, once you finally infiltrate the mainframe it is anything goes.

A reincarnation of Berlin's legendary Ostgut club, which regularly hosted men-only fetish night 'Snax' between '98 and '03, Berghain is still witness to open sex acts - there's even a basement space called The Laboratory designed specifically for them - but it remains a mixed and musically focused environment.

Forget about VIP areas, mirrors in the toilets and your camera (photography is one of the only practices that is actually outlawed here), Berghain's inner structures are two of the most pure, epic and stripped-back rave environments you ever will encounter. All exposed concrete and steelwork, the Berghain main room is the very definition of industrial and cavernous with ceilings so high they might as well not exist at all.

Sundays, of course, are all about Panorama Bar with the slightly more intimate dancefloor and the club's famous shutters that allow the breaking day's light to momentarily infiltrate the venue, only to shut moments later, leaving you lost in the timeless vortex of hedonism.

"Words really cannot describe how good this place is but I will try," says Matt Edwards, aka Radio Slave. "It is the real deal, run by incredibly dedicated people who love music and understand what makes a club work. It really is a place where you get lost in time and space."