King Of The Clubs: Berlin Versus London

Deep dark techno basements or drag acts in working men's club?

Let’s snap back to last Tuesday, when I was moodily slumped on the floor of Berlin’s airport

I got up to plead with the barmaid at the Irish pub for a free bottle of water. I desperately explained to her that I’d spent all of my Euro’s on being ghetto-fabulous for the last 4 days. I was denied.

The glamour was lost.

I looked around and no longer felt alone in my dehydrated shame, my ears pricking up as I listened to a gaggle of broken Brits chatting about their similarly hedonistic weekend.

It became clear that 90% of people were not looking forward to flying back to Gatwick. 

Saturday came back around as soon as I'd landed in London, and I inevitably found myself back in Hackney, wandering around at 6am looking for a bus to Elephant and Castle for a quick session at Jaded.

As I willed myself an extra ten percent battery for an Uber I wondered to myself who does it better? Is Berlin the city of dreams when it comes to night time activities, or does my hometown hit the spot every weekend?

Team Berlin

One of the greatest things about Berlin is its constitutional appetite for depravity. It’s a haven for voyeurs, indulgent gays, BDSM-fanatics… you name it, Berlin has it. On my second day in the city I saw:

A woman dancing to Dennis Ferrer - totally naked - flailing her limbs about like Kate Bush on a half tub of Adderall.

An 8-man toilet cubicle gangbang.

Someone snorting lines of an inconspicuous nature at a bar whilst simultaneously getting their arm tattooed.

Sure, London has these kinds of party. But they usually come with a very British warning before entering. In Berlin, it's intrinsic. Debauchery is ingrained into their culture, from the 24 hour tube service, to indoor smoking.

This is all largely down to Klaus Wowereit, who until last year was Berlin’s fabulously gay mayor. His slogan of ‘poor but sexy’ is something that resonates in the clubs of Berlin. He persuaded the world that you can be cool AND skint. Here’s a picture of him drinking champagne from a shoe…

Boris couldn’t be further from Klaus, instead turning fun clubs in to luxury apartments. 

So far so good,nein? It is… if you actually get into the venue.

As non-German speaking guys, getting asked a question by a bouncer in German is enough to make your balls go back inside your body. Saying “I speak English” is usually greeted with “nein”, followed by a finger pointing to the walk of shame. Not fun. 

Team London

The variety in London is next to none. You can get glammed up and rub shoulders with celebrities at invite-only parties in hotel basements. You can enjoy early afternoon hip-hop brunches with Brixton louts and Fulham lovelies. Or, you can listen to Todd Terje with transvestites in a working men’s club.

It’s the people of London who make it special. It’s a smörgåsbord of international dance music fanatics, AKA a mixed bag of wreckheads from around the world. Berlin definitely feels international, but many come to the city with the sole intention of being cool and getting fucked up in Berghain after queuing silently for 3 hours. 

The British love a good queue. It’s part of the fun. It’s a place where we share our cigarettes with ratchet girls, or talk about the universe with 18 year-old’s who’ve just double dropped. In Berlin, the queue is isolating, arduous, and boring. At least in London you’re pretty much guaranteed to be rewarded with entrance after an hour stood in the rain.

Let's not talk about London's prices, however. Paying £9 for an amaretto and coke IN A PLASTIC CUP is genuinely upsetting. However, so dedicated are we to the weekend that we're happy to grapple in the reduced isle if it means we can crack out the bankcard like Burlusconi at a Bunga-Bunga party come Friday night. 

Oh, and getting the night bus home is horrifying, particularly if you’re in Hackney Wick and you need to get south of the river.

Where Berlin fails, London prevails (and vice versa). London is the city of friendly faces and party variety. Berlin is the city of freedom and debauchery. Thank God for Air BnB and cheap Ryanair flights, because right now, it’s easy and cheap enough to enjoy them both in magnificent tandem.

Get a taste of Berlin-style after hours clubbing in London at Beyond.

More Opinions From The Dancefloor:

The Secret Diary Of A Nightclub Bar Tender

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Better At Clubbing: Amsterdam or London?

Written by Danny Ingham

03 Dec 2015