You’ve heard of Berghain, Watergate, Tresor and Week End. But do you know Bernhard Enste? Probably not. Dubbed Berlin’s Techno Grandpa this 68 year old is still partying through the night at the city’s most infamous hotspots.
A legend and symbol of hope
A little dramatic – but true none the less. Mr. Enste is well known among the club scene. I mean, he’s had enough time to make a name for himself, don’t you think? But what people love about him isn’t just the fact that he’s probably 40 years older than most of the people in the club. His energetic, super-friendly vibe is magnetic. Always in search of a great party, he is nothing like the stereotypical “grumpy old man”.
When asked about most people his age, Enste says, “My generation is the lost one, not the young one of today. Many people only have money and their retirement in front of their eyes and they can’t see the beauty of life. I for one am dancing my way through life, that is part of my survival strategy.”
The Berliner Zeitung once wrote about Enste: “if techno is a religion, Bernhard is probably a guru”.
They worship him because he represents a break from the norm – and gives young ragers hope that it’s possible to be that cool –and happy – at his age.
But Techno Grandpa wasn’t always dancing the night away
Bernhard grew up in a catholic family in the German city of Mainz, just southwest of Frankfurt. He planned to become a priest and going on missions to convert the Eskimos to Christianity (yes, really). That didn’t work out, and he became a carpenter. At age 40, he switched gears to become an artist. At 50 his only son tragically died of cancer and his marriage fell apart.
With a need to get out of the small city, he headed for the bright lights of Berlin. For someone who grew up with iconic bands like The Beatles, Bernhard wasn’t initially convinced that techno wasn’t simply just noise. But when a friend invited him to a rave one night, he was hooked. The crowd’s endless energy drew him in.
At first, it was understandably hard for Enste to fit in among the 20-somethings that frequent Berlin’s nightclubs and he felt like a bit of an outcast. But as time when on and people noticed he was still there in the wee morning hours – dancing his heart out – they started to warm up to him a bit.
Today, he has more than 1,000 contacts in his mobile, the maximum 5,000 friends on Facebook and is invited to more parties than he could possibly go to. He’s often paid by festival organizers – including travel expenses and hotels – and musicians have asked him to dance in their videos. He has no trouble getting on the guest list at even the most exclusive clubs – a nearly impossible feat – and most nights you can find him at one of the city’s many clubs dancing till dawn.
And the future?
While Enste does worry that in time his body won’t keep up with his party drive, he’s not worried. In addition to proudly holding his title as Techno Grandpa Enste spends time with social initiatives to educate young people about drug abuse – something he has frequently seen in the clubs. He also is hoping to become a DJ in the near future. Though he knows nothing about technology, he has more than enough friends who are happy to help him out.