During a recent trip to Europe, we had the chance to check out Tresor – one of the biggest techno/house music nightclubs in the German capital. The plan: party at Tresor for a few hours before making our way to the Mecca of all things techno, the legendary Berghain, where we would come face-to-face with the world’s strictest doorman: Sven Marquadt. Tresor, however, had other ideas in mind for us.
If you’ve never been to Berlin, or Germany, one of the first things you should know is that the partying doesn’t start until around midnight, and it doesn’t end until well past 4 AM- a stark contrast compared to our club scene here in the Pacific Northwest. Some clubs around Berlin, including Tresor, don’t open their doors until midnight, or after!
Being tourists, and first-time Tresors that we were, we showed up to the club at 11:30 PM. A short metro train ride away from the Berlin Haptbanof (the city’s main train station), Tresor occupies an old power plant in a rather dark area. Walking toward the building, we were greeted by multiple drug dealers on the sidewalks, offering us weed, ecstasy, and cocaine. We kindly declined, to which they went on with their business. It was a shock to have random, sketch-looking dudes just come up to us, and whisper their menu. You definitely don’t see that in our region!
By the time we arrived, there were maybe fifteen people just hanging out. When midnight hit, that number expanded to roughly 50. Despite being advertised as a midnight opening, doors didn’t open until 30 minutes after. During our wait time, we made some new friends and quickly learned most of the early crowd were first-timers like us.
While waiting, we noticed plenty of signs taped along the building saying photos, and videos were strictly forbidden. Another thing you don’t see here in the Northwest!
Once midnight 30 hit, doors opened- entry was swift. We were relieved that we didn’t encounter a strict-entry process, a la Berghain. We paid 14 euros, got our wrist stamped, and in we went! In our research, we read some reviews saying foreigners are discriminated against at Tresor. We didn’t receive such treatment.
When you step into most nightclubs here in our region, it’s easy to find the dance floor. Often times, it’s right in front of your face. Tresor? A different story.
Once you get inside, there are so many stairs, doors, and tunnels to choose from! We decided to follow the music, which lead us up a dimly lit stairwell and onto the venue’s third floor.
The third floor looked like any other modern lounge: big bar, plenty of couches…the DJ was playing house music. Drinks were fairly priced. Shots were roughly $4 USD, and were the size of your pinky. Shake. My. Head.
The dance floor wasn’t big, but its dark setting and lack of LED screens, co2 blasts, and lasers made for an intimate space. It felt the focus was meant to be on the music. We spent an ample amount of time socializing with people from other countries here. We wanted to take photos with our new friends, but didn’t want to learn what happens if you break the club’s “no photos” rule.
We did learn what was allowed inside, the first discovery being smoking- and how it’s ok to light up. The second thing we learned: people come to Tresor to escape reality. We saw many people dancing by themselves, just locked into their own world. Most of the socializing occurred around the bars. We tried to talk to people on the dancefloors throughout the night, but conversations didn’t last real long because it became clear that these people wanted to just dance.
To Dance in the Dungeon
Our random adventure through Tresor ultimately led us to the basement. Here, we entered a completely different world. A darker, scarier one.
To get to it, you have to walk through a dark, concrete corridor with rapidly-blinking white strobe lights. Toward the end of the corridor, smoke starts to fill and an ocean blue light emerges. We can hear the techno, and can feel the bass with each approaching step. Then there we were, in what looked more like an ancient dungeon than power plant basement.
The smoke here was so thick, it was hard to see what was in front, or around you. We discovered a bar, restrooms, and “the red room” where we saw people smoking cigs, buying drugs, and participating in sexual activities.
Down in the basement, the DJs, whom were separated from the crowd by a concrete wall, with a small, prison-like window, were playing dark, hard-hitting techno. It was heavy. It was brutal. The music here was definitely not Carl Cox type techno. Combined with the heavy smoke, bone-rattling Bass, the ocean blue light, and plenty of strobes, we were engulfed into an enviroment where anything goes. It was hot. It was sweaty. But something about the basement gripped us, as we spent most of the night dancing there.
We took breaks, but escaping the basement was difficult because of all the doors, lighting, and smoke. A few times we wound ourselves going in literal circles. Doors that were once wide open had shut, which disoriented us. As the night progressed, Goths began to enter the basement- dancing in ways we’ve never seen!
Around 2AM, the club was the most crowded. Two hours later, we saw people’s other sides; their inner inhibitions come out. We saw many making out, heavily, across the three floors- a few of whom were literally dry humping. We could only imagine what was going on inside the red room around this time.
Substances had to be passed around because many looked out of it, and it wasn’t because of alcohol. One of the locals said there were no mirrors inside the club because Tresor “isn’t about vanity”. We stepped outside at 4AM, and saw a long line. Those waiting looked and pointed at us. It was awkward. Our plan had us heading to Berghain at this time, as we read online that would be our best time at getting inside- Beyond 4AM on a Sunday morning. We were having so much fun at Tresor, we didn’t want to leave!
By the time we left Tresor, it was 8 AM! Time had quickly come, and gone. Even around this time, people were still coming into the club! At one point, while dancing in the basement, we saw a woman who had looked like she had come from a morning jog- decked out in sneakers, yoga pants, and a sports bra. With no windows inside the club, it was hard to tell when sunrise was occurring. Besides, we were having so much fun- who cared about the time?
If Tresor was this wild (there are MANY more stories from this night that were excluded from this piece), Berghain must be even madder. We’ve been to many clubs, festivals, etc. NOTHING compares to a night out at Tresor. A night where anything goes.
Except for cellphone use.