28.12.15

NYE in Berlin: Sweet Twenty-Sixteen

So: you're new in Berlin, or just visiting for New Year's Eve?  Welcome... and good luck!


Foto by: fuckyeahanarchopunk.tumblr.com

New Year's Eve in Berlin can be an overrated and overpriced experience, but only if you read too much into it. As in most cities, there are lesser-known parties which turn out to be amazing while many of the massively overhyped parties fall short of the value suggested by their price tag.  In this post, I aim to help you decide which is which.

But, before I get around to talking about the actual parties, here are a few general tips on doing New Year's Eve in Berlin.  

Don't Get Bombed

In this city, the end of the year party always goes off with a bang... just maybe not in the way you were hoping for.  If having fireworks aimed at your face by a laughing Chav who's swinging a bottle of peppermint schnapps in his free hand sounds like fun, you'll venture out into the streets between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. on December 31st.  Otherwise, you'll stay inside.  Trust me on this... 

Few outsiders can grasp how extreme the Berlin yearning to re-enact the firestorm of World Wars gone by using 1.00 Euro fireworks can be, until they see it for themselves. Fewer still can understand it.  Budding psychoanalysts: feel free to speculate on their subconscious motivations in the box below.

So the first rule of New Year's in Berlin is to get yourself to a bar, house party or a club well before midnight... and then stay there.

Speak With a Silver Tongue

Once you're safely stowed far from Berlin's restless natives in one of the city's many bars (which are almost all brilliant, as well as fireproof) you'll need to know a bit of New Year's Eve terminology.  In Germany, New Year's Eve is called Silvester, and people here say 'Guten Rutsch'  instead of 'Happy New Year' at midnight.  Suffice to say that it's more common to hear 'Guten Rutsch' from well-coiffed people in smart black coats, exchanging sophisticated kisses indoors, than out in the streets, where primal, Platoon-style shrieking and sneak-preview scenes from the Apocalypse prevail.

Happy New... Fear?

Once the coast is clear and you've kissed your loved ones goodbye (for the last time?) it's time to move on to the main event: the night club.  As you venture out onto the shrapnel-covered streets of Berlin, the first question on your lips will probably be: 'where should I go now?' (followed closely by, 'is anything still intact?').  Sadly, there are far too many New Year's parties on offer for me to give a definite answer to the first question.  Parties will run the gamut from being overpriced and over-hyped, to being underrated and loadsa fun.  Which party falls into what category depends entirely on where the masses choose to go to after midnight, and that's as unpredictable as a roman candle thrown from a passing car.  So, instead, I've listed the main events here, listing each party's highlights and lowlights so that you can decide for yourself. 
 
Arena
Arena Club: Its main space is tasteful, brick, warehouse-chic that wouldn't be out of place in London's Brick Lane.  It also has a huge & sparse second dancefloor with a more ravey feeling.

Vibe: International and serious. Tasteful techno nerds abound.  And I use the word 'techno' in it's proper sense of upbeat, four to the floor, and pumping. 

DJ highlight: Chris Liebing

Cost: 37.50 +

Official Party Listing

Ritter Butzke: Sprawling, multi-room tourist playground that has more or less taken over from Bar 25 as the Berlin-style night spot.

Vibe: The Like-A-Local website comes to mind.  This club attracts many visitors who want to do 'authentic' Berlin nightlife.  Not always the friendliest spot if you're not in a large group, though.

DJ Highlight: Digitalism.  

Cost: 35.00 +

Official Party Listing


Ritter Butzke
Kater Blau: A darker and more streetwise reincarnation of Kater Holzig, Kater Blau comprises a series of carnival-themed rooms imbued with a sense of vague menace; in the daylight, this usually turns out to be nothing more than smeared eyeliner.

Vibe: In here, the people are either straight but stoned, or crooked and K'd up... but friendly and up for anything. 

DJ Highlights: They all seem to have about 150 followers on Resident Advisor, so probably no really big names.

Cost: Not listed.  May be an (unwelcome) surprise!
Griessemuehle

Official Party Listing


Griessmuehle: Wrecked old mill on a Neukoelln canal with plenty of rooms.

Vibe: Gritty, fun and a touch psychedelic.  It's generally friendly but there have been some issues with the doormen imposing dress codes, so be warned: you may need to wear black (!)

DJ Highlight: Alienata, Legoworld

Cost: 22.00+

Official Party Listing
Urban Spree

About Blank: Dark, packed multi-room space with an ever-evolving backyard.

Vibe: Left-wing and queer scenes alternately dominate this space.  Its left-wing parties tend towards prohibitive politics, and the queer parties towards uninhibited antics.  (Guess which ones are more fun?)

DJ Highlights: There are plenty of DJs listed, yet none are headliners... but then, what did you expect from such a democratic scene?

Cost: 20.00-25.00 +

Official Party Listing


Urban Spree: Large, yet intimately-run gallery-cum-party space swathed in edgy streetart.

Vibe: This venue seems to attract the type of people who like to have at least 10 non-rave related activities orbiting around the dancefloor before they're satisfied.  Expect pop-up hairshops, bandstands and all that jazz.  The crowd usually manages to fall just outside the hipster end of the spectrum, despite liking many of the same sorts of things.  Excellent for artsy networking.

DJ Highlights: Who's even going there for the DJ's??

Cost: 15.00 +

Official Party Listing

Mensch Meier: Well, Spiral Tribe played there when the place first opened, so comparisons to the Tribe's previous base, Tacheles, are slightly warranted. This is one of the few big Berlin clubs that feels like a squat that you could really imagine living in.  

Vibe: A cross between a theater, chillout room (with all the cushions and swirly lights that entails), bonfire party and community center.  But it's not fully any of those things.

Highlights: Moog Conspiracy, Dada Disco and live performances within that festy sort of vein.

Cost: 23.00 +

Official Party Listing
Mensch Meier's Raueberhoele.  Foto by BLN.FM.

Here are the venues that are doing big parties that I've left out because I've covered them plenty of times already:

Sisyphos

R19

Tresor

Berghain

Salon Zur Wilden Renate

Watergate

Guten Rutsch!!

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Berlin, Germany
...is NOT a fashion blogger! I write about underground music, activism, social media rights. Other publications that I have written for: OpenDemocracy, Urban Challenger, Siegesaeule, Alternative Berlin and Sensanostra.