ME: Was thinking of checking out KitKat tonight, but I heard Wednesday their dress code is kind of intense?
RAVER FRIEND: Yeah, Wednesday is the Symbiotika party, so you won’t get in without a lot of leather gear or a harness at least. Let’s try on a Sunday or a Monday. It’s much more chill.
On the list of any curious club-goers visiting Berlin is KitKat, one of the city’s most infamous sex-positive techno spaces with a “creative” dress code that on many nights restricts access to only those who are dressed (from the club’s info page on Resident Advisor) “particular, sexy, wicked, kinky, creative, eccentric or crazy . . . but never boring!”
But as my friend, colleague and Rave-guide (let’s call him Jean) told me “On Sunday or Monday It’s not a big deal, you just go topless and try to wear all black and boots.”
The choice of shoes, I have come to learn, is crucial to a successful admittance to an all night Berlin dance party: come with white sneakers or anything sporty, you will often be turned away before you even reach the front door.
And so one Sunday night in March I approached Kitkat’s brightly decorated door with Jean and waited for our turn to see the bouncer, a middle-aged lady who I’m pretty sure was one of the owners, an Austrian couple who worked as pornographic filmmakers before opening the club in 1994.
Two young men ahead of us were immediately turned away. “Why?” they asked. “No explanation, not tonight,” the gatekeeper scolded. I saw something in this rejection that I had seen before: yes, they weren’t dressed quite right, and yes they looked very young, but the main thing was that they looked like they weren’t mature enough to handle entry into an anything goes techno//fetish club where public sex is encouraged.
Now it was our turn.
“Nur ihr zwei?” (Only you two?) She asked. “Ja,” Jean replied. She looked me over and turned back to my friend who had his jacket open to reveal a bare chest covered in tattoos, some of which extended up to his chain-adorned neck. “Ok, aber er muss sein T-Shirt ausziehen” (Ok, but he has to take his T-shirt off.)
With that, we were in and I removed my top before heading to the garderobe where we turned in our phones (no pictures, standard policy) with our coats.
Like most Berlin clubs, there is an immediate shift in vibe as you transition from the front gate into the party. Once you get past the stern bouncer and you’re inside, everyone is usually incredibly friendly. “Viel Spaß!” (have fun!) the coat checker told us as we headed to the bar on the dance floor.
It was midnight, which meant we were early, so we grabbed a shot of tequila and my friend gave me a tour of the space. KitKat is made up of one big dance floor with a bar, a plush and very comfortable lounge area with another bar that looks out onto a small swimming pool (closed on this night) and other smaller rooms and spaces downstairs (also closed on the less busy nights.)
They even have a sauna.
The club’s prevalent blacklights made my friend’s teeth glow bright white as he led me around the club’s various corners, many surrounded by large couches and soft surfaces. “I had sex there, I had sex there . . . oh yeah, and I had sex there,” he narrated with a chuckle.
After enough initial exploring, we hit the dance floor and watched as the club began to quickly fill up with sexy partiers of all body types. Many wore harnesses, leather and other fetish gear but some were simply in their underwear. The sound system was powerful and clear and the DJs delivered dark, hard techno as we all pulsed together under the watchful, red-eyed gaze of the cat-head sculpture that hung above the bar.
During a pause from dancing in the adjacent lounge area, I began to wonder if I would see any actual sex acts happening or if maybe Sunday was indeed a “chill night.” I chatted with a young, harnessed Israeli man who ended up at KitKat after getting rejected from Berghain, Berlin’s most storied and hardest-door-policy club.
He was sad because they let his two friends in, but not him.
Then suddenly, over the pummeling kick drums from the dance floor, I heard a high-pitched shriek of pleasure in my left ear. I turned in the direction of the sound and saw a sight that matched up with the club’s reputation: a young couple in the throes of a very intimate act, involving a whip and what looked to be a very satisfying orgasm.
“Hmm,” I thought.
No leather, no entrance
My night stretched on until 6:30 a.m. during which I saw many acts of pleasure, some very mild and some extra spicy, but I also saw the exact opposite: cute, shy people who – despite the outward projection of super sex-positive bravado, despite the bondage gear – were still grappling with their own inherent social awkwardness.
As it turns out, introverts with whips and chains are still introverts.
As we exited the club in the freezing March air, watching snow fall softly through the grey sky, punctured by two cylindrical towers from the nearby power plant, I resolved to come back again, on a “crazier night” like a Wednesday.
About two months later, I was approaching KitKat’s door on a stricter dress code night. True I had no leather, but I was in black and gray, with nice boots, an open jacket with a bare, harness-clad chest and my own creative take: a long audio cable wrapped first around my neck and then around my torso giving me a very cyborg-y look. I was sure I’d get in and I approached the two giant, mean-looking bouncers with confidence.
My expectations were soon dashed when one of the men pointed to my pants, where I had threaded the plug from the audio cable and some exposed wires through my zipper. “Was ist das?” (What is that?) he asked. “Das ist für eine Steckdose” (That’s for an outlet) I replied, without really thinking. It seemed my inventive prop was seen as not safe and he said “Nee, du kannst mit dass nicht reinkommen” (You can’t come in here with that.) “Kein Leder, Kein Eintritt” (No leather, no entry) his colleague commanded.
“Ok,” I replied with a smile and turned back to the Ubahn. This wasn’t my night, but I learned an important lesson: I needed to invest in some form-fitting fetish gear before I’d be allowed in the KitKat during the busier nights.
Not a cheap purchase, but as I would later find out, totally worth the expense.
Read more about Berlin here in Dispatches’ archives.