One of my most memorable Sunday daytime raves in Berlin was the Sunday when Germany won the World Cup.
I watched it in the garden of Berghain, the world’s most famous techno club. Between plays, I slipped into the darkness of the ex-power plant to a sweaty, stomping sea of leather, latex, and jockstraps, and slid out to sunshiny, beer-garden vibes.
In Germany’s capital, night and day are always blending together, just like the uncommon denominators of football fandom and an über-queer, über-sex-positive party did on that day. Outside Berghain, German flags waved on the streets, symbolic for a country weary of wearing pride due to past wrongs. In Berghain, we melted into sticky bearhugs and danced upstairs in Panorama Bar under the shutters opened at dawn.
Sunday afternoon raves are a Berliner’s clubbing bread and butter. It’s when the regulars come alive – or get their second wind. Berlin’s famous clubs offer a place to swan-dive into hedonism across indoor and open-air spaces. Still today, the eclectic scene stays devoted to freedom and tolerance, like the ’90s underground techno raves where it all began.
I’ve always been attracted to Berlin open-airs for the menschenauflauf (“human casserole”) aspect – outlandish characters expressing themselves through fashion, performance and movement, fully exposed by the brightness of day. Like other Berliners, I live by a philosophy that dancing is good for the soul, but since starting to DJ myself, there’s new anticipation watching serious DJs, both well-known and elusive, demonstrate their technique and approach to beats behind the decks.
Club etiquette: things to know before you party
Berlin’s daytime raves are snack-sized festivals powered by happy vibes and Club-Mate (a caffeine drink synonymous with the local club culture). They are a mishmash of fresh faces, an espresso and a Jägermeister deep, and those who’ve been partying since Saturday night into Sunday afternoon, but no matter what, etiquette is everything. Bouncers take their “crowd curation” seriously and turn many away for being too rowdy. At Berlin’s best clubs, entry is never guaranteed, despite lining up for hours.
At the end of the day (or in this case, the beginning of it), the best personal advice I can give to get in is: bring something to the party. Uniqueness and authenticity are everything. Knowing the DJ line-up is important (you may get a pop quiz), but so is a friendly, positive attitude. Never show a bouncer that you’re not ready for what’s in store.
Once inside, live by the “what happens in the club, stays in the club” principle. That means respecting the anonymity of guests by not taking pictures. Being on your phone on the dancefloor is also a major faux-pas – and a Berliner may call you out.
What to wear to a daytime rave
Dress to express, but also functionally for dancing (no tight button-ups and dear God, no stilettos). Think ahead for a good spot to store cash (cards aren’t taken) and that coat-check ticket because retrieving checked items the next day can be a mission. Accept that any outfit might be a sacrifice to the party gods, likely doused in mystery liquid and cigarette smoke when you leave (the one time I wore white jeans was an eye-opening experience).
Where to buy the perfect outfit
Rhythm-friendly yet eye-catching outfits are aplenty in the Neukölln neighborhood, especially around the Maybachufer canal, where you can hit vintage shops like Diamond Freddie and the newest location of Soul And Style, plus the genderless, clubwear-inspired Berlin brand UY Studio in one go.
Where to find Berlin's best daytime raves
While Berlin’s daytime raves happen year-round, the summer open-airs are incomparable. The open-air season typically kicks off on May Day with many clubs closing their outdoor gardens and dancefloors by the end of September.
The summer calendar also includes thousands-strong rave parades with DJ line-ups on floats, such as Christopher Street Day (Berlin Pride) and Rave the Planet (the reincarnation of the famous former Love Parade). Crowds deck out in everything from leather fetishwear to disco shimmer behind the moving stages. Meanwhile, on May Day, open-air stages and mini-raves – think parks, kiosks and lots of portable speakers – happen around the Kreuzberg neighborhood. My personal favorites are the ground-floor apartment parties, where the entrance is window-only. (Yes, you read that right, don't worry, you'll fit through.)
Many Berlin clubs open from Friday night until Monday morning, but the party programs can shift considerably. Resident Advisor’s Berlin events page is good for planning and buying advance tickets. There’s also the local magazine Exberliner’s Music & Clubs sections and Facebook groups dedicated to clubbing.
Sisyphos hosts a diverse crowd
“Sisy” is a circus of wacky surprises – at daytime parties, I’ve been glitterbombed, hung out with a cat in an old Soviet vehicle, and met a dad in a lime-green bikini top and cutoffs taking his daughter on her first Berlin club experience.
At this former dog-food factory, the dancefloors host underground talent, so the vibe may range from Goa trance to Chicago house stumbling from the beach to the wooden Wintergarten shack. Expect the unexpected, but always a diverse crowd across ages and backgrounds.
Club der Visionäre is the original daytime party spot
Club der Visionäre is often a Berliner’s first love in the clubbing scene. Its reputation as an OG daytime party spot and scenic canalside location ensures a good vibe builds from midday to sunset and onwards, pretty much any day of the week.
As such, this is where I usually take my mid-week visitors for a taste of daytime raves and the local club culture – and unintentionally stay up way past my bedtime bopping around a cozy dancefloor in the wooden shack and talking nonsense under the willow tree.
Heideglühen is an intimate party hot spot
Heideglühen is a rare hot spot for Saturday daytime parties. The dancefloor vibe is happy-go-lucky and intimate, spanning group-hugs, confetti showers and caring folks clacking open fans to relieve the sweaty souls surrounding them.
It’s a spot not typically discovered by passers-through as the door favors regulars. It’s in Moabit, a trek from the club-heavy areas. Heideglühen doesn’t publicize much about its line-ups, so try your luck at the door.
Don't forget the after-party
When midnight strikes on Sunday, many clubs are still packed – yet, many Berliners do head home for Monday work with the afterglow of R&R (rave and relaxation).
A typical after-party might just be collecting another arm-stamp at the next club. Or it could be grabbing beers from the local Späti (24/7 kiosks unique to Berlin) and unwinding in one of many parks like the former airfield Tempelhof for sunrise.
Hit the record stores for electronic music on vinyl
There’s no better city to shop for electronic music on vinyl. The local scene ensures you’ll find rare promo discs, solid compilations to round out collections, and more. Especially in the open-air moratorium that is winter, grabbing a cappuccino and holing up in a record shop is among my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.
Go hunting for vinyl at Sound Metaphors
Sound Metaphors is where many of the big-name DJs go record hunting. Walk in, and there’s usually some oddball beat playing to perk up the ears for heavy listening.
There’s a deep curation of different genres. What I love about “crate digging” here are the stickers on most of the shops’ records, usually bearing a short, punchy description that gets you excited to give it a spin.
Settle in to the listening stations at Bikini Waxx Records
A short walk away, this vinyl shop is hidden inside a little courtyard house. What’s great is the living-room vibe – grab as many records as you can muster up a set of creaky winding stairs to the listening stations. The craft beer fridge and comfy sofas makes it easy to get in the zone.