Whether it’s an all-weekender spent in Berghain or a spontaneous Sunday session at one of the city's many open-air clubs—for most of us, a trip to Berlin isn’t complete without at least a dabble in the city’s renowned dance scene. But, while experiencing electronic music blasted through a state-of-the-art sound system is arguably the best way to do it, if you want to go beyond the dance floor and delve deeper into the city’s legendary music scene, then a trip to the city’s best record stores is a must.
“Sure, Berlin’s nightlife is legendary enough to warrant all the attention, but it’s easy to forget it exists as a means of seeing some of the most cutting-edge dance music on the planet,” explains Highsnobiety’s Music Editor Jake Boyer. “This is reflected in the city’s very best record stores, which collectively offer the most extensive offerings in the genre.”
The city’s rich music scene—past and present—is well charted in its wealth of record stores. Although electronic and house music tend to take precedence, other genres from hip-hop to punk to ‘80s pop are also well accounted for. Scattered across the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and Neukolln, many of these stores are owned by individuals who have experienced the city’s scene evolve firsthand and are personally committed to preserving its music. As Boyer explains, “some are hallowed grounds that have been open for business for decades, while others are a testament to Berlin’s burgeoning new generation of musicians and dancers.”
Like the abundance of vintage shops in this city, the number of record stores can be quite overwhelming and the dig for rare vinyl can be stressful if you’re only in town for a fleeting visit. To save you some time, Boyer has compiled a list of Berlin's best record stores as part of our City Experiences series with American Express. However, make sure to check the opening times before stopping by (they tend to be sporadic) and, as is the way in laidback Berlin, don’t be surprised if you turn up on a Saturday afternoon to find the shutters rolled down.
Believe it or not, Berlin isn’t all about techno, and Soultrade is a major testament to that. Specializing in soul, funk, jazz, hip-hop and more from around the world, you’ll find everything from must-haves to new releases to incredibly rare records nestled in their cozy Neukolln storefront.
In a small standalone space in the yard or “hof” of a nondescript apartment building in Kreuzberg, Bikini Waxx holds a treasure trove of wax, organized in highly specific categories like “Rominimal Trippy Dubby,” “Immortal Techno Tools,” and “Ambient Spiritual.” Starting out as a Discogs-based web operation, in just a couple years Bikini Waxx’s physical location has quickly become a must-dig spot for Berlin’s finest DJs.
Whether it’s at their OG location in Prenzlauerberg or their Kreuzkolln outpost south of the river, OYE stocks a broad range of dance music and regularly hosts in-store events. A vibrant and veritable hub for music lovers, OYE receives some of the best U.K. and U.S. imports in all of Berlin, as well as exclusives from local labels.
Just steps from Friedrichshain’s Frankfurter Tor, Galactic Supermarket offers an out of this world selection of records. Specializing in second-hand vinyl from the ’50s to the ’80s, this is the spot where you’re sure to find that weird krautrock record of your wildest dreams.
The Record Loft
After its mainstay location in Kreuzberg’s Kottbusser Tor was forced to close suddenly in 2016, The Record Loft has since found a new home, just meters away from Neukolln’s underground nightclub Griessmuehle. If you’re looking for a hyper-organized record store, you best try elsewhere. Instead, you’ll find lovingly-selected records piled high in stacks that owner Christian Pannenborg traveled far and wide to find.
Conveniently located inside a coffee shop in vibrant Wrangelkiez, 33 rpm is a boutique-style record destination. While it’s certainly not the biggest in the city, it’s one of the nicest places to dig, lovingly packed with an eclectic assortment of vinyl hand-selected by owner Adem aka Jeff Özdemir.
At this point, Hard Wax is basically synonymous with Berlin techno. Take a step into the stark, concrete shop located canalside on Maybachufer in Kreuzberg and it will be hard to convince you otherwise. Although its shelves are chock-full of the best underground dance music from around the world, they also specialize in reggae and dub music if you fancy a dig for 7" records.
For more from our City Experiences series, head here.