Day Tripper: Best of Berlin's Afterhours Scene

It's March and I'm too tired to stay up all night, aren't you? That's what makes winter & spring such a great time to explore Berlin's afterhour scenes...

Same Bitches @ OHM

DJ Handmade plays regularly at Same Bitches @ OHM

Each time the door cracks open it admits some light, along with a few bodies from the huddle by the cash desk outside. Their shadows quickly dissolve into the dark sound chamber, wading into the music like ducks into water.

Tiled walls and low ceilings gleam with damp in the retired bathhouse, making each watery analogy I dream up seem even more appropriate: people don't come here just to listen to the music, they come here to swim in it.

The rhythm of the waves is being controlled by DJ Handmade who's playing sublime banging mix of techno, tribal house, hard house, acid techno, acid house... Far from sounding like a mishmash, though, these tunes are lined up with an intuition that makes them all seem part of a single genre, a pulse arising from the eternal & pressing need to dance. Here, we're never alone in that mission: the flickering of light in one person ignites something in the others and brings about a revival of the previous night's buzz. The DJ's upbeat, optimistic energy lifts our tired bodies like a pair of helping hands.

Same Bitches is one of a slew of occasional daytime after parties that is fast outstripping the weekly nighttime moves with its dynamic style and sound.  Siegesaeule Magazine has called it, "The sleazy and filthy unofficial Gegen after-hour." If that's true, then it must be true that enlightenment is easier to see in the dark, and purity in the muck; at Same Bitches, the sleaze and filth seamlessly translates into clear-headed euphoria. Sometimes, it's well worth getting a bit of muck on your boots, to grow some wings.

No date has been set for the next Same Bitches party yet, but with two months between each party, it should be around the first week of May.

2. Staub @ About Blank

Another energetic afterhour marathon is Staub, which runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month. Its music tends to be much harder than Same Bitches but the atmosphere is just as much unadulterated fun.

You go there to have an encounter with proper techno, rather than big DJ names because, at Staub, the lineups are never announced. The DJ's sound like they've been selected by someone who likes dancing with their eyes closed, too. Every time I'm there, I hear some new and amazing act that has been rescued from the anonymous DJ slushpile and elevated to new heights of passion, by a restless & adoring crowd.  For that reason, you can't expect to see the same acts twice and the acts that you do see? There's a good chance they'll never sound the same again. The anonymity of Staub works both ways, freeing everyone up whether they're on the dancefloor or behind the decks.

On the lobby dancefloor we saw Esther Dujin playing everything from early 1990s hard techno to more modern Tresor style sounds, with bits of gabber and trance thrown in. Guess she was feeling lucky to try and pull off a mix like that, but it really worked!  On the MDF dancefloor, the music by I/Y was more like hardtek, but still 'soft' enough for regular techno fans to immerse themselves in. Meanwhile, the garden floor was transformed into a beautiful chillout, with warm ambient grooves, plenty of seats, coloured lights, gleaming baubles and vines draped around the ceiling beams. 
In the interests of preserving that image-free vibe, Staub make no promises about its lineups, but the curious can find some sample tunes on their Soundcloud channel.

3. Something Slow @ Beate Uwe 


Next, moving even deeper into a retro 1990s chill-out vibe, we headed to this sumptuous Sunday afterhour. It started at around 4 p.m. and drew us with the promise of free brunch eats (they're really good, we tried 'em). The crew at Something Slow greeted everyone with a smile and encouraged us to take off our shoes & dance on the carpet like we would in our own living room (as people are wont to do when they're still rolling, as they roll through the door).

Something Slow was one of the friendliest after parties we've ever been to in Berlin. In all honesty, kindness is the one ingredient that anyone attempting a "retro" rave these days tends to neglect. The nineties were a heyday for chemical happiness, so arriving at any venue that's surrounded by tense bouncers, or full of punters sneering at each others' fashion faux pas, tends to make me feel as marooned in the narcissistic 'now' as watching a Trump speech on TV.  So, it's a huge relief to see that at least three great afterhours parties being run by people who put their full trust in the dancers, letting them go with their inner flow... wherever that may lead.

The next Something Slow is happening Sunday March 12th, from 4 p.m. till dawn.

All photo credits belong to their respective DJs and club promoters

*Please note that OHM is not actually a bath-house - it just closely resembles when it's so crowded that there's sweat literally dripping from the tiled walls!


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