Gender confusion at a Berlin techno club

The Brandenburg Gate - a symbol of Berlin.

The Brandenburg Gate - a symbol of Berlin.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she interrogated our eyes with her own. A clipboard in one hand, a headset perched on top and a stern facial expression suggested that this woman didn’t mean anything other than business.

The question indicated one thing, yet body language suggested another. Here we were, four wayfarers looking for a good night out, faced with what appeared to be a form of opposition.

We neither questioned nor probed this lady. After all, she was flanked by two rather large security guards and a girl at the cash desk. Her look alone was enough to pierce the night’s sky – even through the light pollution of the big city.

But perhaps it was our fault. After all we were all English and in Berlin on a Monday night – a questionable move in most places. As tourists, however, this was our only option, plus we’d partied in Prague in the early hours of the preceding Friday and Saturday, so it’s not as though we’d naively waited for the weekend to pass before getting our party pants on.

To be fair, we didn’t expect many, if any, places to be busy, but we just wanted to experience the feel and effervescence of a place renowned for its nightlife.

Yet the choice of night had already slipped into the category of ‘questionable’ when we went to one of the most popular bierkellers in the German capital to find ourselves amongst the 10 or so patrons in there.

Enjoying steins in Berlin.

Enjoying steins in Berlin.

Still, a stein of beer went down a treat and a shot of fireball less so, and we were determined to find a club and have a good time – despite a shaky start.

That brought us to a place called Tresor, a nightclub on Berlin’s east side which is housed inside, of all places, an old heating plant.

The underground venue, operated by a record label of the same name, was pretty intimidating from the outside, and its image wasn’t helped by Ms Cross-Examine.

Eventually, we were allowed in and paid the required amount of money for entry which also got us a durable stamp, still traceable after two showers and several post-toilet hand washes.

As we waded into the club the group realised the reason behind our unusual welcome. It wasn’t because we were English, nor was it because she thought we looked strange. Rather it was some brief check for drugs, presumably some sort of problem for the Berlin scene.

We didn’t, nor had we taken any, though I’m not sure whether the same could be said for our fellow partiers.

Our foray into the world of techno was different than what I expected. The grungy ambiance the club gave off was characterised by pipe-lined brick walls and lowly-lit rooms. There were three floors in total, but only two appeared to be open on this particular Monday.

We happened to bypass the first floor pretty quickly as the main dance was upstairs. Step by step the loud din of the music grew closer, louder and more pulsating and, finally, we were in the room.

What we saw was over 100 people dancing away to the heaviest music I have ever heard. Techno is a staple of Berlin’s musical history, and we were a part of just another night.

It was something unlike I had ever seen back at home, with the constant flicker of a strong red light affording us intermittent views of the people surrounding us.

Although intrigued by the amazingly loud music, I needed more alcohol in my system to begin properly enjoying it and a trip to the bar resulted in a beer and a shot – with an additional €0.50 charge which was refundable upon return of the bottle.

The next hour or so saw some enthusiastic two stepping and shuffling to the sounds that the resident disc jockeys were making happen, yet the novelty soon began to wear off and we wanted to check out the rest of the place.

There was another bard downstairs, and that’s where we preceded, past the bright red neon ‘TRESOR’ sign and on the way to beer number two.

🔊🔊🔊💣💣💣👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽 #tresor

A photo posted by GuiRaffi 🐜 (@guiraffi) on

This time we sat down to quench are thirsts (or dehydrate us further, whatever floats your boat) and happened to sit next to a group of girls, also from the UK.

The inevitable questioning began after we entered into the conversation, and after exchanging pleasantries like where we’re from and what we’re doing in Berlin, one of the girls appeared to fall asleep, or fall into a position that looked like they were heading in that direction.

Showing concern for the almost-bald woman, whose conspicuous behaviour was open to question, one of my friends asked her friend “if he was okay.” Not realising this person was a woman, he addressed her as though she was male.

In his credit, she did resemble Lenny Henry, and the lack of hair combined with low visibility didn’t allow for the best of judgement calls.

Her friend, who was looking after her, didn’t see it like this, though, and swiftly punished the slip of the tongue with a foul-mouthed outburst.

My mate was a little red-faced, and the girl still seemed to be riled-up by the comment. Both partied needed a cool off period, and that’s what happened. But then, the miracle of alcohol began to take shape.

I can only assume the girl was one of two things – drunk or psychotic – because in less than a minute she had gone from furore to asking us if we’d like to dance.

Naturally, we were stunned by the request, especially considering the course of events over the past few minutes, but wanting to avoid a second snapping, we reluctantly agreed.

The lack of lighting at Tresor was both a blessing and a curse in the end, with a setup that makes the inside of a Hollister shop look like the Las Vegas strip.

After following the girls upstairs, we were able to give them the slip in the dark and headed back to the bar for round three. Dancing with a psycho, Lenny Henry and The Proclaimers (I forgot to mention that their other two friends were Scottish) wasn’t on our agenda for that evening, and my friend didn’t want another gender-based gaffe on his résumé.

At this point, the end of the night was nigh, and so we got a few more minutes of shape-throwing in before embarking on the walk along the River Spree back to our hotel.

We went in search for was a good night and despite it being memorable for the wrong reasons at the end of it all we were, definitely, okay.