Berghmania is very real folks. Pious worshippers of the coveted Berlin techno mecca have offered bribes to get inside, designed simulators that mimic its infamous door policy, and posted grainy videos of its inner happenings (also known as berghrotica). There have been illustrated guides on how to get inside, non-illustrated guides on how to get inside, and full-on profiles of the venue everywhere from Rolling Stone to The New York Times. It's the most famous club in the world and chances are even your mom has heard of it. Your mom hates clubbing.
What's led to this obsession? Why do we care so much about a club many of us will never step foot inside? Beyond the world-class music and vibes within its hallowed entrance, the concept of rejection has likely contributed to the club's mystical allure. Rejection isn't the most fun, but without it, there wouldn't be eventual victory.
This past weekend, July 29-August 1, Beyond music festival in the Netherlands poked some fun at Berghain's ethos of constant rejection in the form of a mock, mini Berghain located inside the festival, complete with a facade modeled on the club. Hosted in conjunction with an actual Amsterdam-based organization, Bauhaus (not to be confused with the delicious eatery owned by VICE-affiliate Eddie Huang), the "Berghenk Experience" was pretty simple: you stand in line to get past the gate, get refused, and try it all again. There was also apparently an actual DJ named the Self who was playing, something, somewhere, inside the entrance of the tent nobody got inside. He recently posted a grainy clip of his 12-hour set, for those who didn't get in.
"Time to train your in-the-line stance and "walk of shame" skills," the organizers wrote on Facebook about the intention of the installation. "We built and simulated a certain club in Berlin in the middle of the festival site ("Here we call in Berghenk," they added) including fences, a facade, and little too pretentious dark techno." They also included a road map that drills their ethos even more into your brain:
1. Stand in line
2. Get refused
3. Go back to stand in line
4. Get refused
5. Go back to stand in line
6. Get refused
7. Go back to stand in line
8. Get refused
9. Go back to stand in line
Like many legendary weekends that occur inside Berghain, it's likely we won't ever know much more about what happened inside Berghenk this past weekend in the Netherlands. For now, and maybe forever, all we have are these shitty photos and sporadic videos. For those who didn't make it inside, all they have is their rejection, and dreams. Maybe that's how it's meant to be.
UPDATE: We've been recently been in touch with the creative mind behind Berghenk, Mr. Rens Mors, who agreed to chat about the vision behind the "club" during a short interview conducted by Timo Pisart of THUMP Netherlands.
THUMP: Standing in line really sucks, why did you want to simulate that aspect of Berghain?
Rens Mors: The festival asked us to mind fuck people. Whenever a line arises, people will inevitably want to join in. Berghain is a pretty minimalistic club, so is it really to fun to be there, or is it the line that actually captivates people? We wanted to create that experience, and see if a club can become popular by merely rejecting everyone.
There were also other advantages: you didn't have to travel to Berlin to experience what it's like to stand in line at Berghain, and you could practice your standing-in-line skills. You could practice how to behave and how to avoid becoming nervous. The Beyond Festival itself didn't sell too many tickets and we were hidden way back between some small buildings, but people still came flocking in to overwhelmingly be rejected at Berghenk.
Did the audience get the joke? How did they react?
Most of them got it. Some people had a nice laugh, but two guys were really angry, and one girl even started crying: she just wanted to run inside. It was pretty hard, I'm not tough enough to reject someone like that. Two dudes were rejected five times, and the sixth time they came offering wedding rings.
Why are people so obsessed with getting rejected?
Well, you'll crave more the things which are unattainable. Rejection is never fun, so when you are being accepted by someone playing hard to get, that makes you feel even better. Whenever you're standing in line for so long, and you do get in, you'll try to justify it. Some people actually got inside the Berghain-experience, but there wasn't really anything to see. A couple of lightbulbs, some really pretentious techno, and it was bloody hot. It was a bit of total bullshit, but people still told each other to visit our Berghain. They were actually proud to have been in there. It's pretty similar to the circle of death, which ants participate in. As soon as one ant walks somewhere, the rest of them will follow. People are just like ants, when you think of it.
Any tips for the walk of shame?
Never end up in discussion with each other. Some people told our doorbitch: 'Oh yeah, do you really enjoy what you're doing? Does this get you off?' That's of no use at all. You won't be able to try a second time, since he'll remember what a douchebag you are. Take your loss and walk away. Oh yeah, and the Berghain-trick everybody knows: when they don't let you in, go to the right so you won't have to walk past the line again.
Did you ever succeed getting into the actual Berghain?
I tried six times, and got in four times. That's a pretty good score, right?
David Garber is not getting into Berghenk on Twitter.