I approach the big booming box. It’s a Sunday afternoon and the massive abandoned power plant hidden in a shrubby corner of Berlin has been housing debauchery since Friday midnight. The Sunday sun flickers under the heft of the muffled techno coming from inside.
The queue oozes for meters before the infamously guarded doors of Berghain. It’s black and silent. Nobody. Speaks. A. Word. The atmosphere is dead still and strangely displaced against the backdrop of the afternoon. The self-sacrificial victims are tense: heads down or turned away in performative disinterest, while internally crawling with nerves as Berlin’s doors of rejection creep closer.
I join and I wait.
A man, must be in his sixties, who stands in front of me takes off his cargo shorts to reveal little leather underpants with laces up the sides. He folds up his shorts and tucks them under his arm while I pretend to be completely indifferent to this.
Two American guys dressed pretty normally join the queue behind me.
“oh shhhhit. Shhhhit”, I hear one of them whisper to his companion, trying not to move his mouth too much and maintain the deadpan look that is the elixir of life in this queue.
“We’re not wearing enough black dude”
“Shut up, just shut up, be chill”
We carry on silently waiting in line. Watch a few shameful rejections.
Two people dressed like rainbows walk out. One of the Americans behind me says “well hey, they’re pretty colourful-“
“Don’t look dude!” He hisses in a whisper.
I agree with the embarrassed, paranoid American, even though I so desperately want to look out of pure curiosity. So as they walk past I turn my head away and casually whip out my sleek black and gold cigarette case, light a cigarette and apathetically blow the smoke in the other direction. I can feel the bouncer look at me while smoke trickles from my red lips and I put the case effortlessly back into the pocket of my leather jacket. Yes. The performance has reached its audience.
Finally I’m in front; cold eyes penetrate me as the immense bouncer stares into the depths of my soul, trying to determine whether or not I’m here with the “correct” intentions.
“Eins?” He finally says
“Eins” I confirm.
He nods his head and gestures me inside.
After the airport security-style bag check and oh-so-Berlin phone camera lens covering, I finally get to step into Satan’s sex pit. My eyes have to adjust to the pitch dark. It’s an abyss of bare concrete and criss-crossing staircases. The air is saturated with sweat and accompanied by stagnant smells of beer, smoke, semen, escapism…
Wandering creatures of the night pass in and out of the industrial power plant space below the dancefloor. They lounge, sleep and smoke on and amongst the square booths which are dotted around the devil’s living room. They creep in and out of the shadows of a dingy corridor that stretches into black oblivion.
I leave my things with the coat check, where rails and rails of old leather and dirty backpacks are guarded by gangly men in rags and women in corsets.
I climb the stairs, ignoring the couple fucking in a booth just behind me. When I feast my eyes on the main dancefloor, blasphemy and laughter pour from my mouth in exclamation and appreciation of the scene. Staircases and lightless windows tower twenty metres above me and the Funktion 1 speakers start to possess me, like a snake, quickly growing and mutating in my core, bigger, stronger, meaner with each beat. It’s like Blade Runner threw a party in the tenth circle of hell. Manipulative architecture convinces Berghain patrons that it’s always dark outside- or, more believably so, the darkness isn’t an illusion and I’ve entered a soiree in The Upside-down.
Men kiss and dance atop square podiums, skin glistening through their netting attire and women in nothing but G-strings and high heels press purple pills into their tongues. The dancefloor is a sea of fetish fashion, naked breasts, latex and buckles rising and crashing to the rhythm of the music.
The sound is so powerful I can literally feel it resonating in my vagina. I am wet; the bass is playing with my clit and making my body writhe with pleasure. I dance a while next to a woman in a spiked leather dog collar on a chain leash who dances with her hands and feet on the floor, resembling a spider. The ketamine is apparently rife here. A stranger in a leopard print leotard next to me sporting ecstasy demon eyes kisses my forehead, tells me he loves me and skips away.
I wander over to the bar, letting my hands caress sweaty, moving bodies as I pass through the dancefloor. When I put down my second consecutive shot of tequila I notice the bar beneath my breasts: glass casing housing silicone humanoids: twisted, and naked, and sexy, and eerie.
Seduced by the hedonism that hangs in the air and overwhelmed with curiosity, I continue to explore.
Meandering up yet another staircase I reach Berghain’s sister, Panorama Bar, where the dark decadence of the club takes on a pink and bubbly version of itself. I get lost in the 80’s disco remixes they’re playing and all of a sudden the black blinds covering the windows along the wall surge open and sun pores inside. Screams, hisses and cheers fill the room as the nocturnal patrons are blinded by the light while simultaneously delighting in the deviance the sun makes apparent. Glass separates the jumping dancefloor from the reality of the city now visible beyond these windows. It feels like a TV screen reflecting something you know is real but is at that moment completely removed from your particular reality. Just before the existential dread sets in the blinds close and seductive darkness embraces us once again.
Hours pass as I drift between dance floors, meander through corridors and staircases, brushing everything in sight with my fingertips, soaking up every last drop of it, having meaningful wordless encounters with strangers…
“Eis! Eis!” Someone behind me shouts above the throbbing music. I turn around to encounter a massive, shirtless, dreadlocked man handing out cups of ice cream to everyone in the vicinity. He’s handing one to me and after deciphering which one of the four I’m seeing is the real one, I thankfully take the cup and share it with the sweating friend I picked up somewhere along the way. The flavours explode onto our tongues. We think it’s lemon-chocolate, but that could be Molly’s take on a basic vanilla. Either way, we relish in the cool dessert melting against our hot and thirsty tongues, sharing and mixing exotic flavours with the others around us. We laugh and lick and exchange ice-creams, devouring the frivolous sentiment of magic ice-cream hailing from the unknown of a techno club in Berlin.
My succeeding and final hours there are a haze of delectation and dance-offs, tingling body parts and warped time in a place where at the heart of dark hedonism, is in fact whimsy and unorthodox utopia.
When I eventually stagger out there is still a queue outside and I can feel envious eyes upon me. I light a cigarette and walk towards the train station, dizzied by the sudden stillness of the outside world. The sound of bicycles clicking in the distance and birds chirping is pulling me back into the stringent realm of reality against my will. The music is stifled again, smothered by the heavy concrete that is Berghain’s exoskeleton, the force of it dwindling as I walk away.
I buy döner kebab from a stern Turkish man at the bahnhof and get on the next train going my direction. As it approaches in the distance its rumbling resonates louder and louder throughout the dark tunnel and my techno-addled mind tries to find a song somewhere in its rhythm. But the song isn’t there and this noise and darkness and concrete is nothing more than those things back here in the land of the living.
 Eins- German for one
 Eis- German for ice-cream