In the four years since its first bash at Berlin’s iconic minimal party deck on the Spree, Club Der Visionaere, the Slow Life party and label has a built a reputation for exceptional after-hours vibes. That in turn has propelled the profiles of its individual resident DJs, a mix of Italians and Spaniards that includes DJ Tree, Laurine, Cecilio, S.Moreira and P. Villalba. Their particular style of heady house attracts diverse taste groups for different reasons: deep house heads gravitate toward their penchant for groove and subtle funk; minimal disciples covet their propulsive drums and psychedelic textures; fans of jazz or other groovy non-electronic genres can also find a way into the Slow Life mindset. It’s the perfect combination for lasting on the dance floor on Sunday mornings after a long night of techno and fits snugly into Berlin’s tech-house tradition, which perhaps explains its popularity. They’ve met growing demand in other venues both locally and abroad with editions in Canada, England, Italy and beyond.
It makes perfect sense that the number-one party upholding Berlin’s tradition of glitter-coated, hippie-flavored club culture was founded by a former resident at some of the city’s most iconic ’90s nightclubs: Planet and E-Werk. The man in question, Woody, told us in a feature that he launched Heideglühen with modest ambitions in 2012, when he invited friendly DJs like Radio Slave to play at his 40th birthday party. As the legend goes, it was so good that Woody decided to do it again…and again…and again, until it was a bi-weekly (and now weekly) event hosted at a regular—and secret—location in Moabit. The high walls that surround its perimeter help to keep the goings-on there pretty private, and the door staff’s dedication to admitting “friends only” has played a crucial role in protecting Heideglühen’s magic in a city where such gigs can quickly become too big and burn out. And that’s especially true when they regularly host up-and-coming stars and seriously big names (Villalobos, Âme, Shonky, Chez Damier) in a tiny, treehouse-like fortress.
Though Trade is relatively new to Berlin, it’s quickly carved out a distinct musical niche for itself, which partygoers may have difficulty seeking out in a city so dominated by techno. Trade’s organizers have curated so-called “deconstructed” club sounds with regular appearances from artists like Mobilegirl and Linnéa. The DJs help to pair slower styles, like hip-hop and reggaeton, with dance floor pop sensibilities. The party’s unique appeal is also due to its primary residency at the intimate venue OHM, the former battery room in the Tresor complex’s disused power plant. Trade occasionally hosts weekend events, but the monthly party primarily takes place on Wednesdays. In any other city, this would likely affect attendance, but in the international clubbing capital, there is always demand for a weekday club night.
Staub is special because it only occurs during daytime and because its organizers make a conscientious decision not to reveal its lineups before the event begins. The collective, which just celebrated its fourth anniversary, hosts the monthly gathering at ://about blank, a formerly illegal venue in the industrial part of Friedrichshain. One of Staub’s goals is to curate stages where carefully selected headliners play alongside local newcomers. Though the music policy is open-ended, the DJs have honed an aesthetic that’s rooted in darker hues of techno. You’d be hard-pressed to find these lineups on the internet, but you can listen to the Staub podcast series to get some idea of the sonic orientation. It’s one of the few parties in town that boasts a separate ambient music floor, which makes a Saturday afternoon there the perfect end—or the perfect beginning—to an insane night out.
What began as a modest collaboration between a group of friends in October 2015 is now a major destination for techno in Berlin’s underground nightlife scene (and, like many successful parties in the German capital, an eponymous record label). The party takes place one Saturday a month in a dark basement on Maybachufer and lasts from midnight until 2 p.m. the following day. As its name suggests, Herrensauna pays homage to the hedonism of gay male saunas and attracts a queer crowd unafraid to celebrate sexuality, experimentation and positive self-expression. It’s also a bastion for quality techno DJs who are lesser-known on the international touring circuit.
One could think of the Libertine crew as something like the techno-oriented counterpart to Slow Life, as they share a vision for forward-thinking minimal and sometimes collaborate on parties or record fairs. April will mark the three-year anniversary of Libertine’s operations as a party and record label, but a more recent development involves the cozy, eponymous venue they opened in Berlin. Irregular nights there feature Libertine regulars, who play in front of a window with an expansive view of the Spree and the power plants by Tresor across the river. A rundown of the main suspects will give you some indication of their inclinations to dry, jacking techno and electro-tinged minimalism: Libertine’s residents include Yoshi, Saverio Celestri, Sbri and DJ Masda, and they’re regularly joined by Onur Özer, Evan Baggs, Spacetravel and Vera.
Room 4 Resistance
In Berlin, parties and clubs that celebrate and cater to the gay male community tend to dominate the tides of trendiness—this list alone includes three prominent gay nights. In this context, Room 4 Resistance stands out as perhaps the most popular event series devoted to female queerness. Although the crew doesn’t specifically identify as a “lesbian party,” we think it’d be fair to say that their clientele consists of a higher concentration of queer women than we see at a “typical” Berlin club night. Political activism is an integral part of R4R: they usually collect proceeds at the door for local nonprofit initiatives, always post signs around ://about blank delineating its ideology and rules of conduct and list the promotion of female-identified artists as one of their core missions. Their one-year anniversary takes place on March 12 and features R4R residents Luz, Doc Sleep and LMGM, and donations will benefit a community program called RespACT.
Homopatik’s wild success has carried it out of the realm of “ultra-cool underground nights” and into the arms of bigger audiences. So while it used to take over almost entire weekends at ://about blank with top-secret lineups, it now occurs at bigger Berlin venues like Watergate. Its legend has spread so far that it’s even featured on Berlin’s official tourist site Visit Berlin! And nothing about Homopatik is more mythologized than Mr. Ties, the main resident DJ who’s infamous for effusive demeanor behind the decks and a stunning mastery of obscure house and disco records. You can behold one yourself at an upcoming Telekom Electronic Beats Clubnight with Baka Gaijin at Essen’s Goethebunker next month.
The popularity of a given Berlin party often waxes and wanes, which makes it especially impressive that Gegen has retained its intensity and specialness over the years. It’s the most talked-about techno party at KitKatClub, a renowned Mitte venue that opened in the ’90s. The strength of its reputation is a result of its sex-positive identity, which invites queerness and unconventional sexuality in all its forms. The music favors banging techno on the main floors and house or disco raging in the subterranean rooms—but don’t be surprised to find a doom metal band sludging through the peak hours. And if none of that is quite your taste, there’s plenty of nooks and crannies to slink off to or spots to sit back and take it all in.
“I’m not going to Cocktail at 2 a.m. tonight because I know that 2 a.m. will turn into 2 p.m. and then it will turn into 2 a.m. again.” These are real words from a real conversation, and they describe the current club kid attitude towards Cocktail D’Amore perfectly. The long-running gay party and label started by Italian disco duo Discodromo and Berghain resident Boris has a reputation for raw unbridled hedonism that’s beyond the norm, even by Berlin’s already extraordinary standards. Held on the first weekend of the month at Griessmühle, a rough-around-the-edges former grain mill on the outskirts of Neukölln, Cocktail starts on Saturday night and rolls into Monday morning like a slow motion car crash. The scene is perhaps the most fashionable of Berlin’s gay parties—fierce, colorful looks provide a welcome contrast to the city’s default techno monochrome. Likewise the party’s visuals match its atmosphere: A recent event featured a guy giving a blowjob superimposed over footage of 9/11. Go early to hear some of the best selectors on the leftfield house and cosmic disco circuit, go late for…the full experience. Though homofriendly women can sometimes make it in, this one becomes more of a boy’s club as the hours march on. Read Daniel Wang’s account of the party’s early days here.