It finally happened: someone decided they need to get into Berghain so badly, they're posting Craigslist ads offering strangers 100 euros (roughly $110) to make sure they get past Sven. Berghain's picky door policy has become the stuff of myth. Superstar DJs like Felix Da Housecat and Hawtin have been denied entry, and there's even an app to help people figure out when's the best time to go. (The answer is always Sunday morning, by the way.)
The man offering a bribe to he and a friend can "reliably and repeatedly get… into the coolest clubs in Berlin" describes himself as a thirty-year old "successful entrepreneur" without the time to read countless articles about how to be deigned worthy of entry.
Cragslist flagged the original post for removal, but you can view a screenshot of the ad below:
Curious about what kind of desperate punter comes up with this sort of scheme, we reached out to the guy in question, who did not want to disclose his name. We can call him Bernie. Apparently, Bernie's plan is to demystify Berghain's appeal by proving that it can be infiltrated with a combination of money and internet, which always equals #success, right? (Ugh.)
THUMP: What do you do for a living, and where do you live?
Bernie: I'm an entrepreneur and investor that at the moment splits my time on multiple projects between New York, London and Berlin.
Have you ever been to Berghain?
I have. I'll admit it's a pretty cool club, but it always felt like the reality didn't quite justify the hype and this was more of a desperate attempt of Berliners at trying to play cool, [and maintain] the whole "poor but sexy" reputation that the city so strongly wishes to reflect at all times.
The crowd did not stand out to me in any particular way compared to the people I had seen in the queue outside. Apart from the obvious tourists, it wasn't clear where the differentiation would come from. The selection criteria to me seemed more or less random. I was immediately intrigued as to whether there was a logic behind it, or whether the door was essentially just a meaningless and random try to increase the hype.
Hence, the best way to figure this out is to try to find people that either have cracked the code and could show to me that there was indeed a system and a logic behind it. Or even better, even though Berghain maintains that there is no guest list, had access to the list and would be willing to sell out this access for cash—proving that in the end, the game will always be the same, and no matter how hard Berghain tries to promote its concept of inexplicable cool, at the end of the day it's nothing but a marketing gimmick that could easily be bought, and for a much lower price than in a place like London.
What made you decide to post the ad on Craigslist?
I'm definitely both lazy and busy, but in this case I'd say the major factor is just plain curiosity regarding the number and types of responses I'd receive.
Are you worried that the door people at Berghain might catch wind of this and foil your plans?
Not really. If I go through with some of the offers for guest list spots, I'd be sending someone else to get in the first time to see if they did indeed know and would attempt to foil these plans. Only after having been convinced that it works would I actually take up the offer myself. Same goes for the people offering "coaching" on how to get in. It's more about demystifying the concept of the Berghain than it is about just getting in.
Will you conduct any sort of interview for the people offering you entry?
I'd be asking how anyone offering to get me in would have access to a guest list, and what he or she could offer in terms of proof. The ones that did offer satisfactory proof I [plan on] interviewing on the phone prior to having them sign an NDA. [I'm] very curious to see what kind of people actually come through, and what my experiences with them will be.
What kinds of responses have you gotten so far?
The responses were pretty evenly split between pretty fanatical hate mail—the kind you'd think in a civilized society would be reserved for convicted war criminals and child molesters—and people who swore they'd figured out the secret code and would coach me on how to get in. A surprisingly large number of people offered up guest list spots for sale. For those offering guest list spots, I'd explain that they'd have to go through the door with me and I'd be paying them once we were both in, which everyone seemed fine with.
Have you encountered issues getting into clubs in the past?
I used to [go out] quite a lot actually, but more to upscale clubs in places like London or New York. So the whole concept of the "coolest club in town" being this gritty and dark place, and the door policy being entirely ambiguous and random seemed intriguing. I've never really encountered any problems getting into even the top locations.
[I learned] you'll be fine as long as you know what the game is. In London it's all about getting a table and signaling you're willing to spend—or even committing to spending—serious money. [Editors note: if this is your idea of London clubs you're doin' it wrong.] In New York I feel like it's a bit more focused on showing up with the hottest possible girls. [Again] At a club in, say, Monaco, it's a bit of the mixture of the two, but at least the game is always somewhat clear and there isn't as much of a hype around the mystery of who gets in, as Berghain is trying to create.
Maybe this guy is the definition of why Berghain has a door policy.