Coming abroad, I wanted to plunge myself into new experiences, which is why when my friend Madison told me we could go to Dresden to visit her childhood friend, I was down. I knew nothing about Dresden (besides what I learned thanks to Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five), but I was excited to go regardless.
As the trip approached, her friend, Dylan, started planning activities for us to do around Dresden. One of those included traveling to Leipzig (another German city I had never heard of) to go to a club. The special thing about this club was, like most clubs in Germany, the party did not stop until 10am the next day. I thought travelling an hour and a half for a club that I would be at all night was a little bit excessive, but I was promised it would be a life-changing experience. That’s how, at around 8pm on February 16th, I ended up boarding a bus with a bottle of wine and my 4 best friends.
We were meeting up with Dylan’s friend, Mark, at his apartment who was a regular at this club, and he was going to bring us in. Mark was a doctor who just graduated med school, and thus we called him “the Doctor” the rest of the trip. He had a brand new apartment with no furniture in it. When we showed up, he had a giant pile of cheesy fries and tzatziki sauce for us to eat before going to the club.
The first thing I heard about this club was that it was located under an abandoned train station- seemed sus, but okay. Germany is notorious for having cool clubs that only certain people can get into. There were more rules than I could have ever thought: you had to dress a certain way, you couldn’t be loud in line, and the most important one- you had to pretend like you belonged there. Now imagine 5 girls coming from New York, the loudest city of all, unable to contain our excitement and told we couldn’t talk in line… You can guess how well that went.
The commute to the club took about 30 minutes from his apartment, mind you, this was now a 2 hour commute to this club (who does that???). When we exited the underground, the Doctor led us through a series of fields and holes in fences. Everywhere had a ton of colorful graffiti, all around the walls, on the abandoned buildings near the station, and the station itself. At this rate my friends and I were looking around to each other with the same look of “this is how we are going to get kidnapped” on our faces. However, nothing could prepare us for what was about to happen.
We stood in line for about 10 minutes, and when we got to the front, the Doctor told the bouncers he was bringing some new girls into the club, as well as that he explained to us a few of the rules already. The bouncer- literally the nicest bouncer I dealt with since coming to Europe-gave us a giant list of rules; No photos, if you feel sick contact security, and that the club promoted love, therefore if anyone came up to us and bothered us, to find security immediately, and finally, to have the best time. Then down the rabbit hole we went.
We walked in and Dylan gave us a tour of the venue- it was a maze. There was a tiny DJ booth room where the supporting acts would play, then a massive warehouse room located underground where the main DJs were playing. There were smoking rooms everywhere, and even a “rest” room. This room was literally littered with comfortable couches to lay on, hang out, and talk to new people. There were bars that put out pretzels for anyone to take, water was free (a rarity in Europe), and we were told that around 6am, they would put out breakfast that consisted of cheese, crackers, apples, and grapes for everyone to take.
The people there were dressed in all-black with some some of mesh or fishnet to accentuate the “Eastern European Grunge” look I had heard so much around. Looking around, I couldn’t believe the diversity of characters around us.
We arrived at the club around 12am, and the night was still early. I looked at the clock, thinking, “Wow, I literally have 7 more hours in this club”, but honestly, it was the fastest 7 hours of my life.
The music put you in a trance- the beats matched perfectly with each other, and you could go HOURS thinking it was the same song. Between 12am until 2am, we hung out and talked to the people around us in the “rest” room, taking a break every once in a while to get a drink and dance. Starting 2am however, my group of friends and I did not stop moving until the sun rose. The DJs did an amazing job playing to the crowd, bringing everyone up during the peak hours (3am to 5am) and still keeping us dancing until 8am to slower and deeper beats.
The dancing was of course amazing, but what amazed me more was the culture in the room. Everyone had their own space, and could just feel the music within them and dance whatever way they wanted. No one was judging you, no one was grabbing you, it was solely about the music in the room. Saying it was “good vibes only” would be an understatement. There was so much love in the room, the air was practically vibrating. There was no concept of sexuality, no concept of gender, only the concept of dancing to good music and connecting with other people.
To say it was a life-changing experience is an understatement. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about the deep techno beats, the joy of my friends and I throughout the night, and the feeling of emerging at 8am into the bright sunlight the next morning.
The biggest thing this experience taught me was while abroad is it is so important to plunge yourself into new experiences, regardless of whether you think you would like them or not. Just immerse yourself in a new culture (my choice was the German techno culture). I am still in awe from what happened that night, and I hope that someday, I can go back.