It seems as though most of us, at one point or another, have had a close friend relocate to Berlin. “When I lived in Clapham,” their Instagram feed seems to say, “I was just a normal person doing normal things like shopping for pants and eating Weetabix out of a mug. Now I wear turtlenecks and do cocaine at dark-techno nights in Berghain.” I can’t blame people for flocking to Berlin; it’s a city with a vibrant musical culture, making it one of the best cities in the world for crate diggers. In this article, we’re going to look at ten of the best record stores to do just that.
In the post-war period, during which Berlin was carved into quarters and the city’s infamous wall was erected, it went through something of a cultural resurrection. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, the young population of West Germany – lured by the promise of exemption from military service – moved to the Kreuzberg district, then populated by immigrants and artists. Sat under the bleak shadow of the Berlin Wall, it proved surprisingly fertile ground for cultural regeneration.
Haunted by the ghost of Nazisim, the post-war generation came to be originators of a new national identity. They embraced the music of David Bowie and Lou Reed and, through such artists, were inspired to pursue their own creative outlets. The period saw an explosion of musical innovation. Kraftwerk, for example, essentially created the template for modern electronic dance music. Krautrock, too, took off in a big way, with bands like Tangerine Dream and Neu! crafting a unique blend of motoric, experimental rock.
The city soon became a hotbed of thriving subcultures. The explosion of punk and hardcore scenes pioneered by bands like Einstürzende Neubauten provided the soundtrack for the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.
With Berlin’s youth liberated, the dance music boom quickly swept across the city, allowing ravers to reappropriate former soviet districts. Today, Berlin is known for techno and electronic music, but the city contains a dizzying array of record stores to cater for all tastes. Below, we look at ten of our favourites.
The 10 best record stores in Berlin:
OYE has two stores, one is located on Oderberger Str. 4, 10435 Berlin, the other can be found on Friedelstraße 49, 12047 Berlin. Established by one of the city’s most beloved DJs, Tinko, OYE are purveyors of everything from jazz to disco to ambient house.
Catering to crate diggers and explorative listeners, you’ll also find imports from underground scenes worldwide, including the UK and US. OYE also has a brilliant reputation for lively in-store sessions, making it one of Berlin’s busiest and popular record stores.
Location: Oderberger Str. 4, 10435 / Friedelstraße 49, 12047.
Website: OYE Records.
Located on Zossener Str. 33, 10961, Space Hall is heaven on earth for fans of Vinyl enthusiasts. It caters to a stunning variety of tastes, with the first two rooms dedicated to new-wave, industrial and rock, and a third room, where you will find a stunning collection of electronic and dance records.
With its cavernous layout and obsidian walls, you’re bound to lose yourself in Space Hall, only to emerge, blinking in the sunlight, hours later. But you’re bound to leave with a collection of absolute gems, that’s for sure.
Location: Zossener Str. 33, 10961
Website: Space Hall
This one’s an absolute must for fans of krautrock. You’ll find 33RPM inside the cafe Mukkefukk in the Kreuzberg district, Wrangelstraße 95, 10997. It’s a disarmingly small store which makes up for its size with an astonishing variety of used and new records. Perusing 33RPM is perhaps one of the most relaxing and delightful experiences a music lover can hope to have in Berlin.
Run by dedicated and friendly staff, it has a distinctly cosy, bookshop atmosphere that has made it a popular destination for fans of guitar-based music, soul, and jazz.
Location: Wrangelstraße 95, 10997
Website: 33RPM Store
Whilst Melting Point isn’t as well known as some of Berlin’s more prestigious stores, it holds just as many treasures. Spacious and meticulously organised, the store can be found on Kastanienallee 55, 10119. The area is famous for being one of the trendiest areas of Berlin and, come nightfall, it is transformed into a raucous party district.
However, by day, Melting Point offers a welcome refuge from the hordes of tourists that descend on the promenade every summer. Inside, you will find a beautiful selection of – amongst other things – classic disco, Motown, and early house records.
Location: Kastanienallee 55, 10119.
Website: Melting Point.
Bikini Waxx Records
Bikini Waxx is an absolutely unique record store tucked away on Manteuffelstraße 48, 10999. To gain access, you will need to lock for the main door, where you will be required to press the buzzer. Once inside, however, you will find yourself in a room which seems more like somebody’s living room than a retail record store.
Bikini Wax is an oasis for serious crate-diggers on the hunt for rare LPs and forgotten classics. As one of the most affordable stores on this list, you’re bound to pick up a bargain or two as well.
Location: Manteuffelstraße 48, 10999.
Website: Bikini Waxx.
One of the city’s most famous stores, Hard Wax is located on Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44A, 10999. The store was founded the year the Berlin wall fell, in 1989, and, as a result, has established itself as one of the most important spots for music lovers in the city.
Although it might look a little bleak and austere, this store is a mecca for dance music fans, with DJ Hell, Modeselektor and Marcel Dettmann listed as past employees. Despite its owner, Keith Fullerton Whitman, calling it “the warmest, most inclusive record shop on earth”, it has something of an intimidating reputation. But for those who know what they want, it’s the place to be.
Location: Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44A, 10999.
Website: Hard Wax.
The Record Loft
Located on Adalbertstraße 9, 10999, The Record Loft is one of the freshest faces on the vinyl store scene. You can count the years it’s been open on the one hand, but it already cemented itself as one of the most rewarding places to root around. It’s an emporium of used records, covering pretty much any style of music you can think of.
Kitted-out with a brilliant sound system, The Record Loft attracts artists and musicians from all over the city, making it a brilliant spot for people-watching. But the best thing about The Record Loft is that it feels like an integral part of the community, hosting regular parties out front.
Location: Adalbertstraße 9, 10999.
Website: The Record Loft.
Located on Grünberger Str. 54, 10245, HHV was founded 15 years ago. In that time it has grown from a small store with a dedicated team, to one of the most important record mail orders in Europe, shipping worldwide.
When it was founded in 2002, it had a small but expertly curated selection of independent hip hop, jazz, funk and soul. Today, however, it offers a huge variety of records, spanning electronic, reggae, rock, and soundtracks. It also has an online record store, which carries over 80, 000 titles in a range of formats. If that’s not enough for you, HHV also has a great line in streetwear.
Location: Grünberger Str. 54, 10245 Berlin.
Website: HHV Store.
Fan’s of late-night parties eclectic dance records rejoice, Libertine Records has everything you need. The store, located on Forster Strasse 51, 10999, is a relatively new addition to the Berlin record store scene, having opened only a few years ago. Libertine Records relocated from Barcelona to Berlin and continues the founder’s ambition of offering a great selection of electronic music for an affordable price.
Libertine Records is rapidly becoming one of the most notorious hang-out spots in Berlin, owing to regular parties featuring performances from the likes of Spacetravel, Onur Ozer, and Baby Vulture.
Location: Forster Strasse 51, 10999.
Website: Libertine Records.
If it’s punk and underground music you’re looking for, look no further than Bisauf Messer. Set up by a pair of friends who bonded over a shared love of Berlin’s ’90s emo scene, the store’s selection is comprised of over 10,000 titles spanning punk, DIY, no-wave, goth, and noise.
It also features a great selection of world, electronica and folk records, as well as books, fanzines, and an own-brand coffee roast.
Location: Marchlewskistraße 107, 10243.
Website: Bisauf Messer.