Q&A with the Designers of Viral Sensation 'Berghain Trainer'

The story behind the website that simulates getting into Berlin's most exclusive club.

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The door policy of Berghain has sparked hundreds of step-by-step guides, personal narratives and video tutorials. Located in a former power plant in Berlin, the club specializes in electronic music and notorious debauchery.

Sven Marquardt is the head of security and turns away hopeful clubgoers for mysterious reasons. Are they speaking English too much? Are they too drunk? Not drunk enough? Dress too fancy? You can stand in line for hours only to be turned away in a matter of seconds.

To mimic the experience, designers Vinzenz Aubry and Fabian Burghardt created the website Berghain Trainer. You give the site access to your camera and microphone, then answer the doorman’s questions. Will you be denied or selected as cool enough to pass through their door policy?

We asked Aubry and Burghardt about their Berghain Trainer to get an insider’s perspective on creating a viral sensation that got thousands of shares in just a few days. They responded via email and answered the questions together.

Format: The idea for Berghain Trainer is simple, yet clever. Those are the hardest ideas to come up with. How did you get this idea?

Vinzenz Aubry & Fabian Burghardt: We are designers with a focus on interaction design, UX design and web technologies. We wanted to build a website with new opportunities for navigating. As we are interested in the Berlin techno scene, we came up with the idea of building an interactive club bouncer trainer and wanted to create an experience as realistic as possible.

Where you surprised by how viral this website became?

We never thought this project will be that viral, it was just a little fun idea. In the first hours, we forgot to append the Google Analytics code on the right area of the code and lost some details of the user analysis.

What tools did you use to create this project?

We used some awesome JavaScript libraries for face tracking and sound visualization. The rest was built from scratch. It’s too bad that audio input via microphone isn’t supported by many browsers so our users have to use Chrome.

Finding good speech recognition was also very terrifying. We started by using the Google Speech API but found a much nicer library for our project: annyang.js.

The most challenging part was the user experience design and interface: how to create an experience that feels as realistic as possible. We did endless iterations on the user flow and interface but we think it figured out very well and self-explanatory.

How did the collaboration work? Were there any challenges of working together on this project?

The good thing is that we are flatmates and classmates. We are working on countless little and big projects together. We are exchanging ideas and inspiration like 24/7. That’s why we have a very agile workflow and never face communication or management problems.

And lastly, have you gotten into the real Berghain?

We have been to Berghain and we love the quality of the club. The Trainer isn’t built on the real bouncer questions; it’s just a fun website demonstrating the technique.

Try out Berghain Trainer for yourself and let us know if you got in. Tag @useformat on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

More About Getting Into Berghain

Now that you’ve had a chance to try out the Berghain Trainer on the website created by Aubry and Burghardt, we’re taking a deeper look into how you can (maybe) enter the infamous Berlin nightclub in person.

How Does the Berghain Trainer Work? Can It Prepare Me for the Real Berghain?

The simulator created by Audrey and Burghardt is a simple, fun website that allows mimics the interaction between Sven and his team of bouncers. By providing access to your camera and microphone, the website then analyzes your body language based on these categories: sadness, anger, euphoria, and amazement. It also analyzes your voice and the way the answers were replied.

After granting the website access, you’re guided through a simulation of the Berghain line. Exactly like how it would be at the Berlin nightclub, you’re asked three questions. Depending on the way you answered the questions, virtual Sven will decide whether or not you get to enter.

While the simulation is a fun way to experience the notorious door policy at Berghain, it doesn’t guarantee that you will get past the bouncer and get into the nightclub.

Is It Difficult to Get Into Berghain?

Whether you’re entering the German nightclub to perform as a DJ or simply as a clubgoer, entering the venue is a monumental mark for career goals and a huge achievement for electronic, techno music fans.

Berghain’s notorious three questions policy can turn away guests without an answer. The strict policies are due to the need to maintain the fantastic atmosphere, vibe, and safe space of the nightclub. That’s why it’s so important for the bouncers and security to deny entry for anyone who might compromise that.

Why Is It the “Best Club in the World”?

Not only is Berghain located in one of the best clubbing districts, but the nightclub itself is considered as one of the most respected and techno nightclubs in the world. For techno music lovers and DJs, the ability to play at the venue or rave all night to techno mecca and house beats.

How Can I Get Into Berghain?

While there isn’t an absolute trick into getting inside of the venue, here are a few extra tips to give you a better chance:

  • Try different times: A lot of people who managed to get into Berghain have suggested trying different times of the day. Avoid times when the lines are super long.
  • Ease on the pre-drinking: Like any other clubbing venues, bouncers tend to deny entry for anyone who looks visibly drunk. Take it easy on the pre-drinking and avoid getting too intoxicated before being greeted at the door.
  • Be comfortable: If you’re heading to Berghain, expect spending the entire night dancing the hours away. Dress comfortably and be yourself.
  • Get on the guest list: This might be a bit difficult if you’re a foreigner traveling to Berlin. Unless you have an extensive network, friends with someone who works there, or a DJ who’s playing at the venue, it is said to be quite difficult to get onto the guest list.
  • Relax and go elsewhere: Finally, don’t fret! If you get denied entry at the door, don’t let it ruin your night. There are lots of great nightclubs in the district, so you can easily head over to another place to have an amazing night out with your friends.