top of page
Screenshot 2023-12-16 at 7_edited.png

The secret to getting in was to care, but not to care too much. You needed to dress edgy, preferably in an ensemble of varying shades of black, but you couldn’t look like you had just stepped out of Paris fashion week. Don’t smile. Don’t frown. Just kind of be and when you get to the front of the line, always know the names of at least one of the DJs playing that night and never look the bouncer in the eye. Speak as little as possible, especially if you don’t know German.


These were the rules that Sebastian’s BND-counterpart had shared with him the day before he made his first attempt to get into the Berghain, the most legendary and exclusive nightclub in the world. Years before Sebastian's venture, Elon Musk, the richest man on the planet at the time, once had tried to get in and was denied entry. If Elon couldn’t hack it, who was Sebastian to think that he had a chance?


Sebastian wasn’t drawn by the Berghain’s selectiveness; in fact, he generally disliked attending any kind of event where everyone shows up to just say they were there. It was the storied sound system that convinced him to risk the hours-long wait, where the odds of admission were massively stacked against him. He had read about the stereo set up in music blogs when he was just a teenager. The quality, the precision, the intensity of the sound was supposedly unrivaled anywhere else. Sebastian was an audiophile, he had to at least try.


Sebastian would try anything at least once.


It was a stifling humid Saturday evening in June, and Sebastian had arrived early– but not too early. He entered the queue alone at exactly 22:30L (20:30Z). By then there were maybe 40 or 50 people in line. Within a few minutes it soon ballooned to at least ten times that size. The doors were scheduled to open at 23:59 L (21:59Z), and so, anticipating at least another two hour wait, Sebastian put on his headphones and pressed play on Charlotte de Witte’s Power of Thought. 


The brilliance of a song about the power of thought was its own power in suppressing thinking. As the bass boomed and the rhythm ramblingly repeated Sebastian could momentarily suspend the chronic feeling of emptiness that had haunted him everyday since he had woken up four months ago in a military hospital bed in Stuttgart alone by himself after being tranquilized, forcibly evacuated from Busan, and recompensed with an extended boondoggle at the United States’ last remaining command in the European theater, which was scheduled to close by the end of the year.


Sebastian was exhausted from his feelings and the trauma that had kept replaying in his mind of the moment he had lost Avery, for what he assumed would be forever. He never wanted to feel again. He wanted to disappear for good, to join Avery and be home.  


And so on this night Sebastian had made the intentional decision to not feel, but to just breathe, to dance and be free.


By 00:47L (22:47Z) Sebastian reached the front of the queue. Usually in high-stakes moments like this his anxiety would kick into overdrive and lead to self-sabotage. His voice would quiver, his hands would sweat and shake, his eyes would shift lacking any confidence. He would come off as a complete loser, a loner desperately trying to fit in where he didn’t belong. The two dozen people in front of him had all been cut. He definitely wasn’t anywhere near as cool as they had seemed, so he thought.


The fear of rejection should have produced these familiar mannerisms. But on this night, in this moment, a different response emerged. 


Sebastian just didn’t give a shit anymore. He had nothing left to lose. Everything that really mattered to him in life had been taken. When the bouncer, a tall, stocky, intimidating middle-aged native Berliner with blond bobbed hair dressed in a furry black dress and leather boots began to vet Sebastian, her eyes making at least three passes scanning Sebastian’s entire body from his feet to his head, Sebastian stood before her like he would have before a priest in confession. He was who he was and he left nothing before her to hide.


Sebastian wasn’t nervous. He wasn’t scared. He was completely numb. He felt absolutely nothing.


His eyes fixed at 30 degrees below horizon, a sign of deference, Sebastian just kept repeating the same mantra internally.


-By the mind, it’s power of thought.


-Are you alone?




-What brings you here?




Sebastian made the mistake of looking at the bouncer’s steel blue eyes. They were piercing. It was as if she could see into his soul, every sin he had ever made, every impure thought he had ever had, what Sebastian had eaten for breakfast. She knew everything there was to know about him with just a simple stare. She could see what no one else could and Sebastian was in an instant naked before her discernment of his worth.


He was done for.


-Enjoy your night. This way. Follow the sound.


Sebastian wandered into the Berghain’s main entrance. He had made it in. He was chosen. 


Security was first. A quick pat down, a sticker emplaced on both the front and rear camera lenses of his phone. Then Sebastian paid the 25 euro cover in cash, pushing a wad of crumpled up tens and fives into the clerk’s hand. At coat check he surrendered his headphones and black tank top in return for a numbered iron token affixed to a red-braided cord, which he then wore around his neck above his now exposed torso. Across from the coat check, a staircase ascended into the inkinesss of the jet black beyond. It was a real life Jacob’s Ladder, a vertical bridge to climb from Earth to Heaven, a passage from the silence to the sound.


Sebastian’s entire body began to pulse. An ethereal hum slipped through the space, the amorphous beats warming the darkness, gently pushing, slowly growing, softly beckoning Sebastian to journey onward ever farther, ever deeper, ever hither upward into the unknown.


As Sebastian arose to the main dance floor, he realized this truly was no ordinary club. 


He had entered a temple dedicated not to any god or divine being. It was a cathedral entirely for music. Sebastian after his life ended would later become aware that there was no other place, on Earth or below Heaven, uniquely as special.  


Literally there was no other club in the world like it.


Sebastian wondered what the Soviet factory workers who once had roamed the same hallways when the building was originally used as a power station before the wall fell would think of how the cavernous sanctuary had been repurposed,‘tarnished’ by libertine western values of free expression.

Sebastian had an odd feeling that he had been here before.


A flash.


A bang. 


Again and again and again, just like cycles.


This is the part, unfortunately, where I can’t be much more specific about what happened over the rest of the seven hours that Sebastian was inside. There’s a strict no camera policy that I should respect; otherwise, they probably wouldn’t ever let me back in if I were to give away all of the club’s secrets. 


I can tell you how the night ended though.


Around 07:07L (05:07Z), exhausted from endlessly contorting his body in every position and direction imaginable, Sebastian needed a break from dancing. His energy level was on the decline. It was time for a refreshment.


As he approached the main bar, Sebastian became distracted by yet another stairwell ascending ever farther upward into the unknown. Somehow he hadn’t noticed it until that moment, as if the stairs had magically just appeared out of nowhere when he needed them most, like the Room of Requirements. The spiraled flight was much smaller than the grand escalier he had mounted earlier, hidden in the club’s northeastern corner near the hanging bench.  


What was up there?  


Curiosity usurped thirst. Sebastian would explore first, then pass back down for a beer after.


Climbing ever higher and higher, an incandescent glow from the doorframe above transmuted into the unmistakable smell of freshly brewed coffee. 


The mystery of yonder was revealed: a gelateria stowed away in the club’s zenith. 


Once inside Sebastian’s lips briefly broke into a smile. The contrast of the shop’s colorful display case of frozen pastels from the rest of the club’s netherworldly shadowiness evoked childlike delight and amusement. What a fun surprise.


For the first time that evening, Sebastian began to feel again, an emotional response he quickly extinguished.


There was one patron ahead of Sebastian being served. Another joined soon from behind who patted the center of Sebastian’s back.


-Ouch. Hey, please don’t touch me there, it’s fresh.


-I’m so sorry, I had no idea. I was just admiring the design. I’ve never seen anything like that before. What’s it mean?


Sebastian studied the woman who was dressed in a black tunic and uncannily looked like Lady Gaga, hesitant to respond. He was trying not to remember. He didn’t want to think anymore. He had already caved to his feelings in the fleeting seconds of the moment before.


Several days earlier at a hole-in-the-wall parlor off Wühlischstraße on the other side of Friedrichshain Sebastian had gotten his first and final tattoo, a black circle broken by a white horizontal arch depicting a sunrise that easily could be mistaken for an eyeless frowny face. 


The flesh was still sore, as was Sebastian’s psyche.


-In the darkness, there’s light. Sunrise always follows the night.


The woman’s eyes squinted, the sides of her cheeks rescinded. She recoiled and sighed politely, barely masking her confusion and then returned to scrolling on her phone, retreating her interest despite the image’s intrigue.


When it finally was Sebastian’s turn, he evaluated his options closely and chose the lavender chocolate swirl, along with a double shot of espresso.


The server behind the counter was an elderly gentleman, with pasty white skin and sunken eyes wearing a name tag that said ‘Vlad’ beneath a red and cream soda jerk hat. He had been carefully surveying Sebastian since the moment he had stepped foot in the shop, unwittingly to Sebastian.


-You remind me so much of myself when I was your age. I used to work the streets here like you are now. We’re the same.


-Pardon? I’m sorry I don’t understand what you mean.


-I know how to keep a secret just like you. Here’s the check, mate.


The old man winked then eerily smized at Sebastian after brazenly poking Sebastian’s nose.


-Wait… I know you. 


Sebastian’s eyes widened. It was him. It was definitely him. There was zero doubt. He had seen his face in images countless times. It was him.


-YOU SON OF A BITCH! We are not the same in any way. What you’ve done is genocide. The world may not know the full extent to which you have murdered countless innocent people for simply being different, but I do. You will pay for the crimes against humanity you’ve committed.


In an instant Sebastian’s emotional floodgates had opened, the dam of rationality he had worked so hard to harden had burst. He wasn’t just angry. He was apoplectic. He could feel everything there was to feel again.


Have you ever seen a koala fight? Youtube it. That's sort of like how the next few moments went down. 

They say never poke the bear.


Sebastian blitzkrieged toward the counter. It was his first and only attempt he would ever make to try to kill someone in hand-to-hand combat. Right as he was about to knock a blow directly at the old man’s temple, where he had learned in self-defense training was a weak point for incapacitating an adversary, a phalanx of security guards appeared seemingly from nowhere and whisked the old man down the staircase after pre-emptively punching Sebastian’s own face.


-Open your eyes.


-Where am I? Who am I?


Sebastian’s field of view was blurry, his speech slurred. He couldn’t really tell which way was up or down. Gradually from the darkness emerged shapes and eventually a clearer image of the voice’s source. A burly bearded man who resembled Santa Clause wearing camo overalls was sitting on a folding chair across from Sebastian, who was immobilized lying horizontally on a cot. They were in some kind of small, windowless chamber that reminded Sebastian of a prison cell.


-Someone found you collapsed on the dance floor. Don’t feel bad, this happens at least a few times every weekend. What’s important is that you’re safe. When you feel ready, you’re welcome to leave. You’re not in any trouble.


It took Sebastian several minutes to compose himself before he could sit upright. He had never felt dizziness so acute. Eventually he rallied and mustered the strength to stand, thanking Santa for his patience watching over him as he haphazardly waddled out the door, which led directly back to the coat check where his belongings were already pre-positioned for him to retrieve.


What the hell had just happened? Did he imagine everything?


Before exiting the club, Sebastian made a quick pit stop in the restroom. There in the mirror he saw a bruise the size of grapefruit on his forehead.  


Sebastian no longer felt sadness. Instead, a primal instinct to bring justice against one of greatest murders of all time, the 21st century's Hitler, replaced any lingering sentiment of grief.  


Sebastian knew what needed to be done. He began walking to return to the office at once.


It was personal.




-Перепись 2021 года зафиксировала, что русские в Республике Тыва составляют 9% от общей численности населения. Сегодня это близко к 98%.


-Отличная работа.

TUVA 2047
bottom of page