“I have to leave here in two hours,” I told him, he nodded. We continued to dance. The beat got faster, the lights flashed brighter. I was completely aware of everything and nothing at the same time. I checked the time – 9:35 a.m., I considered buying another train ticket but I knew I had to leave, to continue. “It’s time for me to go,” I said.
Date: May 16th, 2016
Time: 12:44 p.m. – 12:44 EST
Location: Starbuck – Prague, Czech Republic
Let me begin by apologizing for taking so long to post, but my last few days in Berlin were consumed by walking, sleeping, eating, talking to strangers, and dancing. Berlin seduced me, and I was so completely in awe of its magic. Thursday night I hung out with a big group of hostel friends and ended up going to this techno club called Chalet. I thought I knew what Berlin nightlife was, but Thursday night made me realize I had merely dipped my toes into the water. From 2:00 a.m. to almost 10:00 a.m. I danced non-stop. When the music is blasting, you just let go. I met so many interesting people from all over the world, but by far the most interesting person I met was this guy with bright eyes whose expression said, “The world is my playground.” I sat down next to him and sparked up a conversation.
From approximately 4:00 a.m. onward we were glued to each other, dancing and talking and laughing. My mystery guy was the man of the night. He owns the record label that put on the event at Chalet, so I got to meet a bunch of great DJs and delve into the backstage music scene of Europe. “The beautiful thing about techno is that it has no lyrics, but you can understand what the music is trying to say,” he said, “you don’t need drugs to appreciate it because it gets you high.” Everything that came out of his mouth was both absolutely poetic and completely insane. He was playful and confident and bold and assertive. He enjoyed every second of the music and being around him was intoxicating. I said goodbye, but not before exchanging FaceBook information.
Friday during the day I continued my exploration of the city. I had originally planned on taking a train to Potsdam, but it was pricey, and I was exhausted. Instead, I wandered into a beautiful park full of people on blankets and music playing from little speakers all over. I spoke to people from all over the world and realized that Berlin was one of the most international cities I had ever been too. “I came here for vacation, and decided not to leave,” said a 24-year-old Argentian. She picked up a job as a waitress and bartender and settled down in the city. “I fell in love with how free everyone is here. It’s been eight years now, and although I still travel, this is home.” Many of the other people I spoke to had similar stories. I could feel myself wanting to stay here forever.
That night I had kebap for dinner and settled into bed at 9:30 p.m. for some Netflix. I ended up falling asleep around 1:30 a.m. and slept until 9:00 a.m. When I woke up I felt refreshed. I had a quick breakfast at the hostel then made my way around the city to continue exploring. Everywhere you go there is art and magic.
Around 2:30 p.m. I went to the famous Burgermeister and had one of the best burgers of my life. Then I went over to the Karneval der Kulturen, an annual event that brings together people from all over the world in sharing their beautiful culture. I spent about five hours transfixed by all the booths and music and food. Everyone seemed happy to be enjoying all these other amazing countries, and I felt comfortable as a foreigner knowing that Berlin is full of foreigners. I danced in a drum circle and found myself a salsa partner. I tried on different types of clothes and devoured some delicious Eastern European treat that someone suggested. I ended up leaving around 8 p.m. and even though it was dark outside, I felt completely safe walking the 1.5 miles back to my hostel alone.
When I made it back to my temporary home I took a short nap, and then headed over to a friend’s hostel to grab dinner. We ended up at yet another surprisingly delicious Mexican restaurant. We discussed how in love we were with the city, and I found myself wondering if I could potentially find myself living here as well. After dinner we hung out at his hostel, laughing at the crazy nights we had before and killing time until it was appropriate to head out.
We ended up going to this club called Tresor around midnight and although the line was long, we got in within 20 minutes. The club was massive, full of strobes and banging techno. There were two huge dance floors and everyone seemed to be a tourist trying to enjoy what Berlin had to offer. I made it back to my hostel around 3:00 a.m. exhausted. I had to catch a train at 11:00 a.m., so I figured tonight would be an early night for me. However, the guy from Chalet told me I had to go to Berghain, and after hearing so much about the club I decided I’d take my chances at getting in.
Berghain has a reputation for being one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. It opens Friday at 11:59 p.m. and doesn’t close until Monday afternoon. It’s rumored that a few years ago Britney Spears got rejected from entering. The dresscode is all black, and the bouncer in charge, Sven, is known as the Lord of the Night. He gives you one look, maybe asks you a question, and then says a quick “ja” or “nein.” More people are denied than accepted, and although I was nervous about getting shut out, I figured it was my last night. What did I have to loose?
I got in line by myself and waited 45 minutes. A couple in front of me from Australia said this was their second time trying to get in. “We came about five hours ago and Sven just said no, but here we are again, waiting to see if this time we’ll get a yes.” It was about 50 degrees outside now and there was a gentle drizzle of rain. I slowly cut through a few people, and as I got neared to the front I made eye contact with the infamous Sven. Half of his face is covered in a giant wire tattoo and his grey hair was tied in a low ponytail. I gave him a coy smile and he chuckled, at that moment, I knew without a doubt that I would get in.
When I made it to the front of the line, a bouncer asked, “Is it just you?” I nodded my head and smiled, he turned to Sven, and he whispered something to someone next to hime, then nodded his head. Just like that I had gotten into the most exclusive club in the world.
I took off my jacket when I walked in. The women at the front looked through my bag and pulled out my phone, placing a sticker on the back and front cameras – Berghain had a strict no pictures policy and if you were caught trying to sneak one, you were immediately thrown out. At the front desk someone asked me something in German and I said “Sorry, no German,” and he laughed, grabbing my 16 euros and asking for my arm. “Here,” he said stamping my arm, “this is international. Enjoy.”
After walking around dancing, jumping, and talking to strangers, I understood why Sven was so particular about who he let in. A lot of people inside weren’t really enjoying the environment, they were bystanders who came to see what the madness was about, but to enjoy Berghain you had to truly immerse yourself. A lot of articles I’ve read describe going to it as a religious experience. Although I was walking around in tight and revealing clothing, as is usual attire for a club, no one disrespected me or grabbed me inappropriately like in American clubs I’d been too. The regulars were here to dance and maybe enjoy the mysterious dark rooms.
At around 6:30 a.m. I saw a guy sitting at the bar. He had dark brown curly hair, a perfectly symmetrical angular face, and piercing blue eyes. I started dancing in front of him, and we didn’t break eye contact for what felt like hours. I felt his eyes digging into mine – I was entranced. In that moment I forgot about everyone else I had ever met, no one else mattered, nothing else mattered. We hadn’t said any words to each other since we had locked eyes, but I knew that he knew exactly what I was thinking.
I broke eye contact temporarily to check the time, and then I leaned into his ears and said, “I have to leave in two hours.” That’s when he grabbed me and pulled me out to dance. When I checked my phone again, it was already 9:35 a.m. Where had the time gone? Again I leaned into him, this time saying “I have to go,” and he kissed me with such an ferocious passion that I considered cancelling the rest of my ticket just to stay with this beautiful stranger, but I knew I had to continue my path. When I made it outside, I realized that I hadn’t even gotten his name. I knew I would never again meet him, and I felt a hint of sadness at the realization.
To say Berlin was good to me is a major understatement. The people, the music, the city, the art – I felt at home. I have never felt such complete bliss as I did in that chaotic Neverland. I left a part of me there, and I know that that city will never let that part of me go. I won’t say goodbye because in my heart I know that I’ll be seeing it again sometime soon, so for now, until next time Berlin.