Dancing the Night Away

Kino International leads a double life: a cinema moonlighting as a popular party location. Café Moskau across the road does too, hosting corporate events aboveground and a club in the basement.

caf moskau
Image courtesy of Fotalia.com

After dusk, Karl-Marx-Allee turns into party central, and Kino International and Café Moskau are in the thick of it. On weekends, the part-time clubs are easy to find – just look out for the queues outside their doors. Between them, the two party locations are a perfect reflection of Berlin’s nightlife. While students are celebrating the end of term at Kino International, yet another long queue is forming outside Café Moskau.

In the basement of Café Moskau, the Avenue Club opens its doors to the public every night from Thursdays to Saturdays. The weekend kicks off early with Pop Club Mitte in one of the few club locations worldwide housed in a listed building. Designed in the late 1950’s as a restaurant showcasing Russian cuisine, the building was restored to its former glory in 2007. Wooden features, trippy 1950’s lamps and lounge furniture take revellers on a journey into the recent past. The dance floor, two bars and separate smoking lounge combine authentic design features with state-of-the-art technology. Café Moskau’s interior was designed by studio karhard, the team of architects behind the Panorama Bar at the world-famous Berghain club, where the nightly queues make Karl Marx Allee look like a provincial backwater. Well, not quite – after all, the Avenue Club has played host to some very illustrious guests including players from FC Barcelona and FC Bayern and the basketball superstar Dirk Nowitzki. However, the eleven lounges that make up the club’s VIP area are available to anybody with a bit of extra cash. There’s room for up to 900 guests to enjoy a tradition peculiar to Berlin: open-end parties. While enforced closing times spoil the fun in other German cities, revellers in Berlin party well into the morning hours. The East-German leader Erich Honecker would not have been amused…  Café Moskau first opened on 15 January 1964 under the reign of his predecessor Walter Ulbricht. The rather battered metal ball floating above the party people’s heads in the café’s right-hand corner – a life-size imitation of a Sputnik satellite – remains as a symbol of German-Russian friendship.

Across the road, Kino International also has a side entrance that promises plenty of fun. However, here the stairs go up instead of down. Hidden from cinemagoers’ eyes, the back and upper floors of the Kino International house a number of bars, lounges and dancefloors – a veritable Disneyland for night-owls that, astonishingly, dates back almost half a century. As early as 1969, the legendary Oktober Club moved in here. The ambience still bears witness to socialist political folklore, while the sound of 21st century Berlin booms from the speakers. Since the end of the 1990’s, Kino International has been a meeting point for the LGBT community every first Saturday of the month. A huge window façade looking out over Karl-Marx-Allee makes this a “panorama bar” to rival the famous Berghain location, and this is where some of the craziest parties in Berlin take place. Heterosexuals are very welcome to join the fun. And they return the favour at the “United Berlin” party on the second Saturday of the month, where men and women mingle in equal proportions and nobody gives a flying monkey about anybody else’s sexual orientation. Those who don’t like the sound of either of these parties can always go across the road. That’s Berlin – there’s always something else going on. Even and especially on Karl-Marx-Allee at night.