Berlin's Berghain is famed for its groundbreaking sounds and X-rated sights, but the club is also a test case for how tourism and gentrification are threatening Europe's party capital At 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday in January, the massive main dance floor at Berlin's Berghain is full. Dino Sabatini, an Italian DJ with short dark hair, is playing hard, hypnotic techno to a crowd of shirtless gay men, disheveled dudes in sneakers and tiny women with tiny backpacks. Many of these revelers have been in the club for more than 24 hours, a feat of stamina likely attributable to some combination of MDMA, speed and ketamine.
The club has been open since Friday night and will remain open until some time Monday morning. On the dark, cavernous dance floor - which is located in the imposing turbine hall of a defunct East German heating and power station - the strain of endless partying is starting to become evident. Near the club's main staircase, an overly energetic young man in knee socks and short shorts is dangerously close to falling from a platform on to a trio of skinny brunettes below. The air smells of weed, sweat and urine, and next to the bar, a couple of glassy-eyed men in leather harnesses are leaning against each other, absentmindedly putting their hands down each others' pants as strobe lights flash.