Music, nightlife and entertainment

Since the time of the Weimar Republic, and even through the lean postwar years, Berlin has had a reputation for having some of the best - and steamiest - nightlife in Europe, an image fuelled by the cartoon-like drawings of George Grosz and films like Cabaret . Among the big draws today are the clubs that have grown up out of the city's techno scene. In a remarkably short space of time these places, many housed in abandoned buildings on or around the former no-go area of the East-West border strip, have spawned a scene that ranks among the most exciting in Europe. If manic dance music is not your thing, then check out the city's wide range of more traditional clubs and discos, ranging from slick hangouts for the trendy to raucous punky dives.

Berlin's reputation as a leader of the avant-garde is also reflected in the number of small, often experimental theatre groups working here. The scene is an active one, though bear in mind that many theatre companies take a break in July and August. Classical music has long been dominated by the world-class Berlin Philharmonic, though several other orchestras and three opera companies are based in the city. Vanishing subsidies have cast a shadow over theatres, orchestras and opera houses in the city, which, as a legacy of the decades of division, currently has a surplus of such instutitions. Though some rationalization is inevitable in the coming years, it's likely that all the big names will weather current storms.

Theaterkassen (ticket offices) are usually the easiest - and occasionally the only - way of buying tickets for all major music, theatre and dance events. Open during normal working hours, they take credit-card bookings and charge a hefty commission (up to 17 percent of the ticket price). The best place to try, especially for fringe theatre, more obscure classical concerts and dance, is Hekticket , Rathausstr. 1, Mitte (tel 0 30/24 31 24 31). Other good bets are Box Office , Nollendorfplatz 7, SchAśneberg (tel 2 15 54 63), Wertheim , KurfA?rstendamm 231, Charlottenburg (tel 0 30/8 82 25 00), and Ko Ka 36 , Oranienstr. 29, Kreuzberg (tel 0 30/6 15 88 18, ).

The way to find out exactly what's on and where is to look in the listings magazines Tip and Zitty , in Berlin Programm or on the innumerable flyposters about town.

Other useful information for tourists (each section contains more specific sub-sections):