Sunrise on a Sunday morning is barely noticeable in Berghain, the club that has been the citadel of techno music in Berlin for a decade. Its main dance floor is a perpetually dark place illuminated, infrequently, by flashing lights overhead and packed, hour after hour, with increasingly sweaty dancers. Its D.J.s play marathon sets that run nonstop, night and day, through weekends and into Monday afternoons, sustaining the metronomic mayhem of untrammeled Berlin techno: giant, booming drumbeats and bass lines bearing down and building up again and again, with relentless impact.
Berghain’s main room was once the turbine hall of an East Berlin power plant; it has starkly functional steel stairs, concrete walls and a towering 60-foot ceiling. The crowd is dressed for dancing, not display: women in little black dresses or tank tops and shorts with backpacks, men in hoodies and jeans, or shirtless, or wearing leather harnesses and little else. People sway, jitter, hop around, bob their heads, jerk their shoulders, shake their hips, grind in couples; some hug together and twirl around in bare-chested groups.