Bring up the word Berghain to anyone who likes clubbing, Berlin, electronic music, or a combination of those things, and there will be an insane story to tell. The institution operates with its own culture, rules, and ideology: The party doesn’t really start until 8 a.m., you can’t take photos or bring in your phone, and nearly everything else is allowed inside (the more prurient, in some cases, the better).
However, like most other clubs, entry is based mostly on appearances (Berghain also doesn’t offer VIP access or bottle service so you can automatically skip the line). But unlike other situations where you wait in line to see if you — and your outfit — pass muster for entrance, it’s not about looking hot or desirable. In fact, black jeans and T-shirts are probably safe bets, and a pair of high heels will get you booted without a second thought. The rooms at Berghain are reserved for those who love electronic music (that’s minimal techno and 90-minute-long house tracks — not radio-friendly EDM cuts), and will fit into the scene. What that means: Don’t look like a tourist, don’t look like you tried too hard, don’t look like you didn’t try at all. Confused? If you are, you’re not alone.
Photographic duo ich + du (Bene Brandhofer and Leif Marcus) camped outside Berghain one chilly evening (or, rather, morning?) in March for Thump Germany to photograph those that got turned away to see if anyone could spot a rhyme or reason to the rejection. Click through to see the things they wore, and what, according to Thump Germany, got them booted.