Insomnia – one of Berlin’s best-known clubs – is in our opinion also one of the most interesting ones in town. Alongside the (in)famous “Church of Techno” Berghain with its ultra strict and random door policy, the techno-trance fetish KitKat (look up their CarneBall Bizarre), the friendly “Alice in Wonderland” Sisyphos , the cirquesque labyrinth of the Salon zur Wilden Renate, the open-air parties ://about blank (yes, this is its name and for long time it has been the reference for the gay scene, with the Homopatik parties, now discontinued), the minimal and trippy tech-house of the canal-side Club der Visionäre (or CDV, for locals & friends) or – going towards the swinger scene – Avarus club, Insomnia should definitely be featured in every list of Berlin’s best clubs.
Berlin is definitely a city that offers a lot when it comes to clubbing, especially if you are looking for something different from the mainstream dance venues, as is for instance Insomnia. The German capital is not a novice when it comes to the hedonistic nightlife: during the Weimar Republic the queer cabarets were attracting elites from all over Europe. Later on, at the dusk of the iron curtain, the fall of the Berlin Wall permitted the encounter between the forward-thinking West Berlin and rugged and alternative East Berlin. This unique mix was the foundation for what Berlin nightlife is known as today – a thriving underground world which is no longer kept as a secret.
Insomnia is a peculiar mix of several things: it’s a bar, a dance venue, a swinger club. In sync, these together create a thrilling atmosphere whether you are a “lifestyle newbie” or a seasoned advocate of alternative clubbing.
If you want to know more about it and want to follow our tips, keep reading. If this is not the case and you are instead more curious about out personal experience there, scroll all the way down until the end and check our review.
Insomnia is neither a swinger club in the traditional sense, nor a regular dance club. It is not a pure BDSM dungeon and not even a nude spa. It is not only a sex club, or a swinglifestyle club, although sex on premises is permitted – in any area you feel like doing it. Actually, its ambience encompasses all these types of environments. The club claims to be a category of its own: “Avantgarde Hedonistic Nightclub”.
One could even say that entire Berlin is fairly avantgarde and hedonistic. For us, Insomnia is perhaps the quintessence of this eclectic metropolis.
Insomnia is one of few German clubs we know that poses itself as a bridge between the swinger scene, the fetish event and the dance party. It offers such a variety of events (six days a week, sometimes even featuring afternoon “sessions”) and finding something that would tickle your imagination should not not difficult. Ah, by the way, unlike in most other clubs across Germany, here you won’t feel out of place even if you don’t speak German, as many foreigners and expats attend these parties as well.
Parties in Insomnia are divided in three main categories: hedonistic (usually Wednesday, Friday, Saturday), swinger (usually Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday), fetish/BDSM (mostly on Wednesdays). Queer guests are welcome to any of the parties, although the Fetish BDSM Wednesdays would probably interest r them the most. Some of the parties are more about dancing, while others are more, let’s say, sex focused. The club has a helpful graph for each event, so you can choose the one to your taste.
The cost to attend a party in Insomnia varies wildly. This depends on the type of the event and also on your status which could be a solo lady, a solo gentleman, a couple or a TV/TS. As a rule of thumb, if you are a girl going on your own, you will pay the smallest price (around 10-15 €) or nothing (free entrance for example on Thursdays’ sex parties). Couples pay a little bit more (around 30-50 €), while solo guys pay more than a couple for the sex parties (80-95 €), but much less during dance parties (15 €, as little as a solo lady). As a TS/TV, you would pay something in between the couple and the gentleman fee, with an exception for the Rocky Horror Insomnia Show, where you are expected to pay less than anyone else – provided you come with the right outfit.
Some parties (typically the swinger events) include free drinks and dinner buffet – justifying thus the higher entrance fee – while Saturday dance parties fee usually cover only the entrance (therefore only 15 € per person).
There are even some parties which are free of charge for 18-25 years old people (both males and females), as for instance the Young Love party, taking place every first Friday of the month.
Insomnia’s website has a very detailed programme and for each event you can see the entrance cost and some suggestions about the dress code.
We think that everyone should at least once have a peek (and maybe stay till late) into this temple of hedonism. Several years ago, Dominique, the owner of Insomnia, repurposed a dance building from the pre-war era into what is now known as Insomnia club. Its ten metres high ceilings, the red-themed decorations, the state-of-the-art sound system and the overall insolent atmosphere make it a very peculiar venue.
Sure, this is totally fine, and by some (couples/groups) even encouraged. No one pushes you to engage in sexual activities in Insomnia (or in any other club, for that matter) and you are welcome to take a step back and admire the swirl of the happening.
Just keep in mind that crossing the subtle line between admiring à la voyeur and starring obnoxiously is a no-go.
Always keep some distance, especially if you are not directly involved or invited to participate. A polite watcher is rarely frown upon, but an annoying wanker is rarely welcome.
Insomnia is one of those few erotic clubs where even going alone can be fun (and they don’t charge single men much more,in comparison to couples or single girls). This will, of course, ultimately depend on the type of event you are attending – some are couple oriented, while some others facilitate a solo approach. However, if you are in a relationship, you should probably pay a visit to Insomnia together with your partner. Even if it is the first experience of this kind for both of you, the dancing aspect of (most of the) parties will make you more at ease. Nudity should not be a problem for you, as you will see some of it, either just dancing or in action on one of the large sofa-beds around the dance floor.
You are in one of the most experimental city of the world, why not indulging in some extravagance?
Insomnia has a very different door policy than your average dance club: here your age (provided you are not a minor) and your sexuality are not questioned, and your vogue-style fashionista outfit (perfect perhaps for an IG influencer pic) is not your laissez-passer for a wild night of debauchery. Quite the contrary.
Here it is more about lack & leather, lace, latex, chains, drag queen rubber, boots, viking male skirts meeting kilts, minimal g-strings, black tape nipple-covering micro bras, net bodysuits, military & uniform, steampunk and what have you. You get the picture.
And no, you don’t need to come already dressed like this. There are two small changing cabins in the entrance hall and a cloakroom, which means you can get to Insomnia safely, without being arrested for public indecency. If you are wondering whether your smart casual outfit with jeans and shirt will get you in… well, it won’t. Insomnia is an extraordinary venue, where the ordinary rarely gets through the door. If you don’t find anything suitable in your closet, you are in luck: Berlin has plenty of stores providing you with the right outfit.
Berlin public transport is fairly developed and you can reach pretty much any corner of the city either by metro (U-Bahn), tram (S-Bahn), or bus. The address of Insomnia is Alt Tempelhof 17-19, 12099 Berlin.
The easiest way is to get the U-Bahn U6 (the line that crosses Berlin north-south) and get off at Alt Tempelhof, right in front of Insomnia’s door. If you are downtown you can get another metro line (as the U2) to Stadtmitte and then change on the U6. Coming from outside Berlin, you can get to Hauptbahnhof (central station) and to the big station of Friedrichstrasse, the main junction for regional trains. Here you can jump on the U6.
In case the S-Bahn is closer to you, then take the circular line (S41 and S42) and get off at Tempelhof. From here it’s about five minutes walk until you see the door of Insomnia.
If the bus is more convenient for you, the lines 140, 184, 246, M46, N6, N84 are all bringing you to Insomnia.
As an alternative, you can of course get a cab or an Uber. Our Uber from Insomnia at night back to our hotel in the centre cost us about 12 eur for a 15 minutes ride.
We can’t blame you if you skipped the text up to this point, but do check it later in case you plan to visit the club, as we give a few useful tips.
During one of our mid-week visits to Berlin we decided to check out Insomnia and its famous “Thursday Sex-Labor” – an event starting in the afternoon and continuing well into the night. As you may have noticed while reading this blog, we have been to quite a few “alternative” places, from erotic spas in Italy to naturist resorts in France, passing through swinger clubs in Denmark and crazy places like the Fickstutenmarkt or Pornokinos in Germany. We have seen a thing or two, but we are always open for more, quenching our thirst for erotic exploration – ok this is the point where Arianna strikes my sentence and bring to humble level my registry.
We took the metro to get there, and as we emerged from the depths of Alt Tempelhof station, we saw the club’s door right in front of us: a combination of grey and golden, with the club’s name rendered in a slightly neo-gothic style.
There was a certain Dantesque feel to it: if it had “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” written just below it, it would not be entirely out of place.
Even if I am not new to this, everytime I enter a new place I feel a shiver going down the spine the moment I ring the bell. Yes, most of these places have actually a bell you have to ring, then a camera looks at you, and in most cases you hear the buzz of the door as a relief. It’s time to enter, let’s check it out.
We have to admit that the first impression was fairly cold. We are used to the welcoming cosy-chic ambience of the other swinger clubs we visited in Europe, while here there was a more of an industrial feeling, dark and gloomy. The apparently cold reception at the entrance desk made us feel almost out of place. But hey, this is Berlin, everything is a bit rough around here. After paying our fee (I believe it was 50 eur as a couple, with dinner buffet and all drinks included, quite a good deal) we got more comfortable (read: red leather tie on bare chest and black vinyl pants for him, black lace & velour minidress with high heels for her).
We climbed the stairs and reached the main hall. This club is pretty much all revolving around a big, high-ceiling dance floor with beds, surrounded by a high-quality sound system.
A fancy bar with a well stocked amount of liquor welcomes you right after you step in. We took the opportunity to check the venue out – still somewhat empty when we arrived around 4pm. Having explored the club, we noticed how different was Insomnia from our “regular” swinger clubs: no labyrinths, no separate rooms, no sauna-spa area. Here the dance floor plays the leading role. In the middle of it, and around it, there are multiple beds. There are some smaller areas behind it, dedicated to massage, BDSM or group touching. Opposite, the shower area (with a very, very strong pressure on the hose if you like water games as much as Arianna) and a spacious hot tub.
On the other side of the dance floor, a small ladder elevates you above the crowd, offering a vantage point from a loggia where later on the dinner buffet was served – and god forbid to have sex on the beds around the area during dinner time: caught guilty, twice! It turned out that on that day anyone could access the area freely, but we have heard that on some evenings this area is reserved for couples.
Back at the bar, we got to know some people, a good looking trio MMF in which we were not sure who was in a relationship with whom. They all spoke English, so we chit-chatted about Berlin clubbing and specifically Insomnia, as they all were “returning guests” here.
Soon we got more intimate, with soft touching but not much more. Later on, I noticed Arianna was making eye contact with another guy, sitting with a big smile near us.
“You are a lucky man” was its ouverture, praising Arianna in an act of genuine courtesy. Gentlemen, take a note: if you would like to interact with the female part of a couple, it’s often a very good idea to start the conversation with the male part – check out tips for single men if you wanna know more.
He was apparently from Brazil, visiting Berlin as an extension of a job trip. His bulge on the boxer shorts was immediately noticed by Arianna, who didn’t wait too long to play with a fairly generous sword. The rest of the act was consumed right at the bar, where an eager crowd gathered around us.
We topped our evening relaxing in the bubbles of the hot tub, with a four hand massage for her.
For a Thursday afternoon, the club was reasonably well frequented and everyone seemed like they were having a good time. The age range was a between late 20ies and late 40ies, maybe someone in their early 50ies but the majority probably around 35-40 years old. There were plenty of towels (they are handed out at the bar). All the areas seemed very clean, with antibacterial spray bottles available to wipe your space on the mattresses. The atmosphere was very different than any other place we had visited and we truly enjoyed the feeling.
We haven’t been in Berlin since then, but in our next trip we are looking forward to check out Insomnia during the weekend. Stay tuned for the next part of the review!
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30-something couple from Europe happy to share their travel & play experiences